A pregnant woman who went to Beijing to complain about a grievance in her hometown in the northeastern Chinese province of Heilongjiang says she is in danger of losing her baby after being injured by officials sent to bring her home.
Li Naiqiu, who was four months pregnant at the time of her detention, said she was picked up by interceptors from Heilongjiang's Taihe city and escorted back to her hometown from the unofficial detention center at Majialou on Jan. 22.
On the trip home, she was handcuffed and beaten up by the officials, who also kicked her in the abdomen.
"When we got on the bus, it was very cold, and I went to sit in front because I saw there was a space," Li told RFA. "Then, four men started beating me up."
"Now I have to have total bed-rest, otherwise I will miscarry," she said.
Photos of Li taken by a fellow petitioner on the bus showed her bound with and gagged with sticky tape on the trip home.
Violence 'frequently used'
Beijing-based rights activist Zhou Li said interceptors frequently use violence against petitioners on the journey home, but that there is little public interest in the issue.
"A lot of people have reported this, but it seems nobody cares about it," Zhou said. "They just hear stories about it, but because they have never experienced it themselves, they have no reference point in their imagination for it."
"But this photo shows wholly inappropriate force being used; it's shocking. I am appalled," she said.
"What's even more shocking is that she is four months pregnant."
Dalian petitioner Jiang Jianjun said he was once gagged with sticky tape in a similar situation.
"They brought me home in pretty much the same way," Jiang said. "They also took away my gold chain and my cell phone."
"These interceptors just deprive people of their liberty under the guise of working for the government," he said. "It's a huge problem, and China still hasn't sorted it out."
A typical case
Meanwhile, Sichuan-based rights activist Deng Fuquan said he knows a number of people who have been subjected to brutal beatings while being "intercepted."
"I know a few people who have been brought back from Beijing, then taken to a detention center where some random thugs beat them up," Deng said. "These weren't isolated incidents; I can think of dozens of people who this happened to."
"This photo is emblematic of how ordinary citizens are treated nowadays."
And Heilongjiang petitioner Song Yingjun called for better enforcement of China's constitution, which should protect individuals from arbitrary detention by agents of the state.
"These interceptors hired by local governments are illegal," Song said. "Why do they have to operate on the quiet? If they were legitimate, they could work openly."
"I hope she starts legal proceedings."
Reported by Ding Wenqi for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.