Authorities in Shanghai detained and questioned a prominent rights activist after he helped hand in a petition to the city's parliament, which meets this week.
"The Shanghai People's Congress has been meeting over the past two days, and we collected ... around 1,370 names for our petition," said economist and rights activist Feng Zhenghu.
The petition called on the city's 800-strong legislature to prevent courts from turning down lawsuits filed by those seeking to defend their rights under Chinese law.
It called for a stronger and more independent judiciary, and for punishments and sanctions against judicial officials who refused to take on legitimate cases.
The lack of an independent judicial system is blamed by Chinese activists as the biggest obstacle to making existing legislation—which includes protection for property rights, employment rights ,and civil rights—work properly for ordinary people.
"Pretty much every deputy to the People's Congress received a copy of our petition," said Feng, who first caught the attention of the international community while spending three months camping in Japan's Narita Airport after being refused permission to return home in 2009.
"We sent it to all of them."
Feng said he and his wife were stopped on the same day by plainclothes police, who searched them and confiscated a copy of the petition.
"The plainclothes police stopped us," he said. "They didn't say anything; they just blocked my path."
"I didn't take any notice and pushed past them, and the plainclothes men couldn't catch me, but they caught my wife and took her bag and a copy of the petition," he said.
'Hauled in for questioning'
After he got to the People's Congress, Feng said he had brought up the petition with a couple of delegates he met near the main building.
"I got back home at about 8:00 p.m. and the police called a couple of security guards to haul me in for questioning," Feng said, adding that he was taken away in a police car after a long "scuffle."
"They threw me in [the cell] and then some state security police came and questioned me about the content of the petition," he said. "I told them all about it."
Feng said he was held until the small hours of the following morning.
"I was banging on the door and yelling at them for several hours," he said. "Finally, they let me out at about 3:00 a.m."
Fellow petitioner Wang Kouma said dozens of petitioners protested on Tuesday against the widespread robbery of petitioners by the police.
"What has Feng Zhenghu done wrong?" he asked. "He hasn't committed any crime. The criminals are the ones who understand the law but who do nothing to implement it."
Reported by Fang Yuan for RFA's Mandarin service, and by Wei Ling and Bi Zimo for the Cantonese service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.