The man who raped a petitioner detained at a “black jail” in Beijing turned himself in on August 11, but authorities have tried to make the case go away, not allowing the victim or witnesses to testify, and suppressing news about it on the Internet.
Black jails are illegal, informal establishments set up by provincial authorities to lock up petitioners who make their way to Beijing from around the country. They travel to the capital as a last resort, to appeal cases of alleged injustice that were ignored by local authorities.
On August 11, one week after the 21-year-old petitioner Li Ruirui was raped by a guard at a black jail in Beijing, Chinese state-media, including Xinhua and the Southern Weekly, reported that the suspect had turned himself in to police.
The victim, and an eyewitness to the case, Peng Guangfa, were sent back to their home provinces. Peng, a petitioner from Anhui Province, gave 17 pages of testimony to Beijing police on August 5, and after being detained for 24 hours was escorted back to his hometown.
He was not informed that the suspect had turned himself in or was arrested.
Li Ruirui, the victim, was also sent home, but repeated phone calls to her and her family have received no answer. Li’s family told Radio Free Asia that they had been pressured to send her to a mental hospital, and sign a guarantee that Li would not petition in Beijing again.
Another human rights defender in Beijing, Liu Dejun, set up a Gmail chat group for Li’s case, hoping to bring it to a wider audience. “Since Li Ruirui and eyewitness Peng Guangfa were both been sent home before the suspect turned himself in, he has not been confirmed by the victim or the witness. Police cannot say that he is the perpetrator. Even if he is the perpetrator, the procedure of releasing the news before this is confirmed is illegal.”
“Since the police reported it, it proves the rape did indeed taken place, and it happened in a location that detains citizens illegally,” Liu said. “After the incident, for the purpose of maintaining stability, their [the authorities] primary goal has been to send both the witness and the victim home. So that slogan ‘stability prevails over everything’ has a problem; it prevails over justice, and it prevails over the law.”
Li’s rape case continues to attract attention from netizens and petitioners, but messages about it on Chinese online bulletin boards have been deleted. The Southern Weekly in Guangdong did a field investigation and reported the case on its Web site, but it was subsequently removed. Liu said the chat group he had set up in Gmail can no longer be opened, and that one has to now use a proxy server.