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Petitioners Rounded Up and Stifled Before Party Congress

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The paramilitary policemen guard at the Tian’anmen Square on Sept. 28, 2012 in Beijing, China. The 18th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party is proposed to convene on Nov. 8 in Beijing. (Feng Li/Getty Images)

In the week leading up to the 18th Party Congress, where a once-in-a-decade change of leadership in the Communist Party will take place, Shanghai has cracked down on petitioners attempting to travel to Beijing

Petitioners travel to the capital to try to seek justice they could not obtain at the local level ni China. By placing them under heavily guarded house arrest, Shanghai hopes to avoid embarrassing the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) prior to or during the 18th Party Congress.

The Epoch Times called the police station in Anting, a township in Shanghai, on Oct. 28 and spoke with a policewoman who refused to give her name. She said that it was the municipal government’s decision to prevent petitioners from going to Beijing, adding that had no explanation had been given for the decision. However, she added, “During the 18th Congress, petitioning is bad behavior.”

Because Chinese citizens have a constitutional right to take their grievances to the central petitioning bureau in Beijing, local governments try to prevent them by intercepting them, placing them under house arrest, or even detaining them in “black jails,” all extralegally.

Qin Rongmei is a Shanghai resident in her sixties who was put under house arrest before the 18th Congress. Her land was confiscated over 10 years ago, and she has been petitioning the authorities for a decade, and has received no reparations. She talked to The Epoch Times about her house arrest in an Oct. 28 telephone interview.

Shanghai petitioners shout, “Down with the communist Party.” July 1, 2012. (Provided by a source in Mainland China)

The local authorities have stationed twelve people at her house to prevent her from going to Beijing. “They work in three shifts and watch me day and night. When I leave the house, they follow me closely,” Qin said. “They treat me like a prisoner. I have no freedom,” As she spoke, the two men and two women watching over her were playing cards, she said.

During government meetings, she explained, the Shanghai government is supposed to pay petitioners a “stability maintenance fee” to encourage them to stay home. “For a large conference like the 18th Congress, each one would probably receive 40 to 50 thousand yuan,” she said. But in her case, she added, ”The guards took the stability maintenance money for themselves and gave me nothing.”

Lu Ying, another petitioner from Shanghai, told reporters that she had been under house arrest since Aug. 30, when she and three other petitioners attempted to go to Beijing. “We arrived in front of the Shanghai Hongqiao high-speed rail station and were arrested before we even entered the station.”

The government has situated interception offices at major stations in Shanghai and sent guards to inspect people at every train station and wharf. Frequent petitioners are recognized instantly and sent back, Lu said.

Lu and her colleagues were taken to the police station and detained for four days. “The police asked us to sign a pledge that we would not petition during the 18th People’s Congress. When we refused to sign, they sent people to put us under house arrest,” Lu said.

After the attempt to travel to Beijing, she was put under round-the-clock guard by six people. On Oct. 20, the local government hired more guards to watch her, but she managed to escape.

Lu said: “After I escaped, my friends told me that the 12 people were still guarding my house. Currently I have no place to go and am afraid to return home lest they arrest me.”

According to Lu, there are around 500 petitioners in Shanghai like her who are on the police’s black list. “Like me, most of them are under house arrest.”

“Just to restrain an old lady like me, the government sends twelve people,” says Lu. “How many in total are watching over all the petitioners in the city? In order to prevent us from petitioning, the government breaks the bank and wastes the money of its citizens.”

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The Epoch Times publishes in 35 countries and in 19 languages. Subscribe to our e-newsletter.


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