A Chinese petitioner, Chen Guangfu, hanged himself on Christmas Eve 2008 in a jail in Shenyang City of northeastern China. He had been jailed there since the Olympic Games.
Chen, a villager from Linzi Village, Xinmin County of Shenyang, died in the so-called “Shenyang Training Center for Civilized Citizens.” The “training center” is in fact a jail established to illegally detain petitioners, witnesses said.
“I saw hundreds jailed here in October,” said Huang, a Shenyang petitioner who used to be jailed together with Chen. “It’s like a real jail.”
Huang said the inmates could not receive anything sent by their families, nor could they buy any necessities. They were confined behind iron bars under the strict surveillance of over 20 guards and multiple cameras. Huang said the jailed petitioners, including some 70-year-olds, staged a group hunger strike to protest the detention, but the jailers did not respond at all.
Chen’s death happened shortly after the jail rejected Chen’s appeal to be released for health reasons and told Chen he would serve 1 and a half years in labor camp, according to Huang. The day after Chen’s death the jail was dissolved.
On the early morning of January 1, 2009, many Shenyang petitioners protested Chen’s death on the Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Petitioners from other places also joined them to protest the many of these types of jails around the country as well as massive illegal detention. But as soon as the over 100 petitioners entered the Square, they were arrested and sent to Majialou detention center. Petitioners said their repeated applications for a demonstration were all rejected by the Public Security Bureau.
The petitioners have called for human rights and legal procedures, and urged the outside world to help restore social justice.