Beijing authorities have begun a large-scale clean-up and arrest of petitioners in the days before the Olympic Games. The new “three lines of defense” aims to protect “safety” and enhance Communist control before the Games start next week.
Government officials in each province of Mainland China have been informed via teleconference to stop petitioners from going to Beijing. According to the petitioners, all petitioners, along with “suspicious“ people are to be cleared out of Beijing by July 20.
During the course of the arrests over the past few days, one petitioner was stabbed to death by an unidentified person. Petitioners have gathered at Taoran Pavilion Bridge in the past few months, where in March a petitioner died after being forced to jump off.
On the evening of July 13, Beijing public security at the South Railway Station began to round up petitioners. Groups of petitioners were taken away to the Majia building. One petitioner, Li Jincheng, said that at least five buses were filled with petitioners during the mass arrest. On July 14, another group of petitioners were arrested, filling another bus.
The petitioners are currently living under fugitive conditions; many of them spend their nights sleeping under the bridge.
Petitioner Zhao Jianping said, "On the evening of the 13th , a friend from my hometown told me that the public security was arresting people near the bridge around 11pm. He happened to be out and saw a woman from Hunan Province stabbed to death by someone carrying a knife on the street. She was about 30 years old. It might have been the local mafia’s attempt to kill her, but no one knows what was really going on.”
"Every night people are being arrested, and fewer and fewer people are living under the bridge. Arrests are happening everywhere. Hotels do not allow us to sleep at night, and our identity cards are on a blacklist. Public security has certain restrictions during daylight hours, but when night arrives they throw every petitioner into the bus.”
On March 15th, a 40-year-old woman petitioner from Jiamusi City, Heilongjiang Province left the reception center of the National People's Congress in Beijing, and was followed by secret agents. She made her last stop at Taoran Pavilion Bridge near the South Railway Station; and later jumped off the bridge and died on the spot.
A petitioner from the northeast, Tang Xiuyun, spoke of the incident. “She started running when the secret agents tried to catch her. She jumped off the bridge right away when she arrived at it, without any hesitance. Hundreds of people witnessed the scene. The police sealed off the area, snatched cameras from anyone taking photos, and would not reveal her identity.”
Zhao Jianping said of the incident, “She must have done it out of total despair.”
Zhao can certainly relate to desperation. His house was forfeited by force when the local government sold it to developers for the price of 10,000 Yuan RMB per square meter. “I’ve petitioned for four or five years, but I am now in deep despair with our society. There is no place for me to sue. When I petitioned for my forfeited house, the provincial government terminated my case and I didn’t get a penny. Several trips to Beijing also turned out to be useless. It’s very hard for commoner to sue the government. If I got caught, I would have been arrested, beaten and locked up in jail. I have been afraid to go home for four years. I have wandered around for many years and relied on odd jobs to make a living.”