Women who pursue complaints against the ruling Chinese Communist Party say they have suffered routine abuses at the hands of the authorities, amid concerns that women petitioners are particularly vulnerable to mistreatment if they cross local officials.
Speaking ahead of International Women's Day, Hubei petitioner Wu Lijuan told RFA's Mandarin Service that while women in some organizations are being celebrated, those left at the bottom of the social ladder still see routine violation of their rights.
"As a petitioner, I can say that this festival isn't for me," Wu said. "I have been under tight surveillance at my home recently, with several people watching the gates of where I live, and two police cars."
"Whenever I go anywhere, I am followed by seven or eight people. These police on surveillance duty received extra money for working on International Women's Day, while petitioners are detained and locked up in huge numbers."
"Every time I look at my phone in the past couple of days, I see reports of this or that person being detained," Wu said. "They are gradually detaining all of the petitioners in China."
"The petitioners haven't done anything wrong. All they did was travel to Beijing to make their complaints, but they are being detained as soon as they get off the train," she said.
"What sort of rule of law is that?"
"We spend our own money, time, and energy on petitioning, and still all we get is persecution."
Shanghai petitioner Zhou Xuezhen said she is also being held under surveillance in a "holiday village" for the duration of the National People's Congress (NPC) parliamentary session in Beijing.
"I have been a petitioner for more than 20 years, and my complaint has never been resolved," Zhou said. "All that has happened is more injustice and more false accusations."
"I have never celebrated International Women's Day in more than 20 years, because women petitioners, my sisters, have nothing to celebrate, unless it's being shut up in detention centers and black jails, and the loss of our liberty."
"Right now there is a group of Baoshan district government officials, special police, and hired muscle sitting watching outside the gates."
Reported by Yang Fan for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.