An activist who filmed herself splashing ink on a poster of Chinese leader Xi Jinping has been released from a psychiatric facility more than a year after she was admitted, according to NGO Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD).

On July 4, 2018, Dong Yaoqiong live-streamed a video of herself defacing the billboard while accusing the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) authorities of “thought control.” It was feared the then 28-year-old had been detained after posting a tweet saying there were a group of uniformed people outside her door in Shanghai. Her Twitter account “@feefeefly” has not shown any activity since.

YouTube video

CHRD cited her father Dong Jianbiao as saying that she had been released from the Third Hospital of Zhuzhou’s women’s ward last November 19 and that she had returned to live with her mother in the Hunan town of Taoshui. He said he did not see his daughter until last Tuesday, adding that she lacked vitality and had gained weight after being given medicine in detention.

A video has been shared online appearing to show Dong Yaoqiong scrolling on a phone after her release.

CHRD on Monday shared an image from Dong Jianbiao of a pamphlet for his daughter’s medicine – Olanzapine – an atypical antipsychotic drug used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. He had expressed concern over its side effects and potential to cause swelling.

He previously said in a live stream that the family had no history of mental illness.

In a conversation screenshotted by Hunan rights activist Ou Biaofeng, Dong Jiaobao said his daughter displayed dementia-like symptoms. “My [country] grinds people down like this,” he said.

In her live stream, Dong Yaoqiong said “I oppose Xi Jinping’s tyranny” and urged international organisations to intervene and investigate the CCP’s suppression of her.

News of the activist’s disappearance sparked a wave of copycat stunts in China and abroad.

Correction: 26/9/2022: An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of Dong Yaoqiong’s father. We regret the error.

Jennifer Creery is a Hong Kong-born British journalist, interested in minority rights and urban planning. She holds a BA in English at King's College London and has studied Mandarin at National Taiwan University.