Topless Protester 'Disappears' in Beijing After Solo Protest Over Official Corruption

2017-08-23
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Luo Mingfeng protests in an undated photo.
Luo Mingfeng protests in an undated photo.
Photo courtesy of a RFA listener

Authorities in the Chinese capital have detained a woman who staged a topless public protest over official corruption.

Luo Mingfeng, a petitioner from Jiangsu's Dongtai city, was detained after she stripped to the waist in Beijing alongside a placard protesting alleged financial corruption by delegates to the Liaoning provincial congress.

She had been staging the same protest outside the gates of state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV), Qinghua and Renmin Universities, and the complaints offices of the Beijing police department and China's cabinet, the State Council, since early August.

Luo is accusing an official from Liaoning's port city of Dalian, Wang Qingzhou, of defrauding her of some 16 million yuan (U.S. $2.4 million), her husband Mou Lin told RFA.

"My wife was detained after she took off her clothes next to a placard about Wang Qingzhou, and now she's been locked up, I don't know for how many days," Mou said. "I don't know if she's in the Dongcheng Detention Center or what. I don't know anything."

"The police have given me nothing."

An officer who answered the phone at the Jianguo police station in Beijing's Dongcheng district declined to comment on Luo's whereabouts.

A fellow petitioner in Beijing said protests like Luo's are becoming more and more common in the capital, with more and more petitioners arrested for trying to make their grievances public.

"It could be that the Beijing police are refusing to issue any official notification [of detention], but it is also possible that they have taken her back to a police station in her hometown, and that it's them who aren't informing the family," the petitioner said.

Mou said Wang cheated them out of the money when they were running a construction materials company in Jiangsu, and that the couple had already successfully sued for three million yuan (U.S. $450,450) in compensation.

But he said Luo couldn't leave it there, because Wang had retained his position as a delegate at the provincial People's Congress.

He said the couple have already been detained five times in the Beijing Xicheng Detention Center for a month each time, where they were held without any official documentation.

Women vulnerable

Many petitioners complain of beatings, illegal detention in "black jails" or "legal study centers" and other forms of official harassment after they return home, while reports have emerged of petitioners who die en route, while in the custody of police or interceptors.

Women are particularly vulnerable once they become embroiled in China's "stability maintenance" regime.

In April, authorities in the central Chinese province of Hubei beat up one woman who petitioned against their local government for petitioning over a forced eviction from her home for years.

Petitioners Wang Shetao and Li Xiaocui, of Luoyang's Liangzhai village, reportedly burned to death in murky circumstances in January after a fire at a police station, official media reported.

Later the same month, Heilongjiang petitioner Li Naiqiu said she was picked up by interceptors from Taihe city and beaten severely while under escort back to her hometown from the unofficial detention center at Majialou on Jan. 22.

Deaths and "disappearances" in unofficial detention centers, or "black jails," are also not uncommon, but evidence of police wrong-doing is hard to come by when the authorities typically refuse to allow independent autopsies.

Reported by Hai Nan for RFA's Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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