Chinese Police Raid Petitioners' National Day Gathering in Beijing

china-petitioner-ge-zhihui-oct2-2015.jpg Ge Zhihui stands outside a police station demanding the release of petitioners in Beijing, Oct. 2, 2015.
(Photo courtesy of petitioners)

UPDATED at 12:31 P.M. EST on 02-10-2015

Police in Beijing are holding a man after a raid on a National Day party for petitioners, as the number of people pursuing complaints against the ruling Chinese Communist Party in the capital dropped sharply, activists said on Friday.

Long-time political activist and petitioner Ge Zhihui, who once penned an open letter to former Chinese premier Wen Jiabao over allegations that his family held billions of dollars in hidden assets, said police raided her home as she held a gathering to mark the 66th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic on Thursday.

"The police came ... [yesterday] evening, and said they wanted to come into my home to carry out investigations, without any formalities whatsoever," Ge told RFA. "They didn't go to any of the other apartments, though, just to mine."

"Several dozen police officers then burst through my door."

Ge said one of her guests, Li Xinhua, had told the police off for frightening a single woman with a child, and tried to stop them.

"Then, more than a dozen of them pinned him to the floor and beat him into submission," she said.

"They took him down to the police station, and they haven't released him yet," Ge said. "They said he is being held for political reasons, because he shouted 'down with the Communist Party' and 'down with the police.'"

Ge, who was detained in a cage for more than a month and ordered to apologize for signing the letter, which police said "had made a bad impression on the premier."

Ge has been petitioning the authorities for compensation, to no avail, for a number of years after she was crippled by a beating and lost all her property. She previously also wrote to Wen to ask for a loan.

She said the authorities had continued to harass and detain her for years, and that she had been beaten up by Wen's own plainclothes security police when she tried to approach him at the railway station.

Repeatedly stonewalled

China’s army of petitioners say they are repeatedly stonewalled, detained in “black jails,” beaten, and harassed by authorities if they try to take complaints against local government actions to higher levels of government.

Many have been trying to win redress for alleged cases of official wrongdoing, including forced evictions, beatings in custody, and corruption linked to lucrative land sales, for decades.

Many converge on Beijing on politically important dates such as National Day in hopes of boosting publicity for their causes.

Shanghai petitioner Hu Jianguo was also detained on Thursday as he staged a protest with his mother outside the Zhongnanhai government headquarters in Beijing, a short distance from Tiananmen Square.

"I had already gotten as far as the gate of Zhongnanhai, [and] I was about 30 meters away when I was roped in by a security checkpoint," Hu told RFA on Friday.

"My mother had a placard on her head with our grievances on it, and was shouting slogans for [President] Xi Jinping to come out and fulfill his promises," he said. "The police snatched [the placard] away."

Hu's mother had been referring to a promise made by Xi on his trip to the United States last week that he would genuinely crack down on corruption.

"I want him to make good on that promise," Hu said.

But Hu said fewer petitioners appear to have reached Beijing this year compared with the number of petitioners who did so in previous years.

"There are far fewer here this year than on previous National Days," he said. "That's because a lot of people are already being targeted [by police back home]."

"There was a collective petition group from Shanghai for more than 1,000 people who went home a couple of days ago because they were afraid of being targeted," Hu said.

"The persecution of petitioners has gotten much worse, in the name of the rule of law," he added.

Liuzhou bombings

Also on Friday, Chinese state media reported that the suspect in a series of bombings in Guangxi province’s Liuzhou city that left 10 people dead and 51 injured, died at the scene of one of the explosions.

Wei Yinyong, 33, was involved in a dispute with his neighbors and regional quarry companies, and set off 18 timed parcel bombs on Wednesday which had been delivered to shopping malls, hospitals and government buildings in the city, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing local police officials.

State media had previously reported that 17 explosions had been detonated, but another explosion hit a house on Thursday. Xinhua had also previously reported that seven people had been killed in the bombings.

China has seen several cases of bombings by people with grievances or who are involved in disputes though the extent of the Liuzhou explosions appears unprecedented.

Reported by Yang Fan for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.


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