Escapee Reveals Illegal Appellant Prison in Beijing

December 25, 2007 Updated: December 25, 2007

Recently, appellant Xu Zhimin from Chong-en County in Jiangxi Province revealed the inside story of an illegal prison in Beijing in an interview with The Epoch Times.

According to Xu, this prison was specifically set up by local provincial offices in Beijing for the purpose of stopping appellants from their own jurisdictions from appealing to the central government in Beijing.

Appellants from all over China come to Beijing to appeal because the local authorities continue ignoring their grievances and even persecute them for pursuing their rights through legal channels.

Extra-Judicial Prisons

But their fate is no better in Beijing. Local government officials will hire thugs to search for them on the streets of Beijing. When they are found, they will be kidnapped and locked in illegal prisons, which do not exist in China's judicial and penal system. Appellants call them “Dark Prisons.”

Xu was locked and tortured in one of the dark prisons located in Fangshan District, Beijing. Xu told The Epoch Times that during the 17th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) between mid to end October, the local authority imprisoned around 200 appellants in this particular dark prison. One of the prisoners was a woman named Zhao Li who was already several months pregnant during that time.

Appealing for an Investigation of Son's Death at School

Xu had his own business, which he said was quite profitable. He started his journey of appeal because of his 15 year old son's sudden death at school. The local police refused to register the case for investigation and the local government also interfered with his appeal and persecuted him for his persistence. To demand justice, Xu travelled to Beijing on June 9, 2006.

Beaten at National Appeals Office—Then Kidnapped

Xu said, “On September 28, this year, I was beaten up by government officials in the Beijing National Bureau of Letters and Visits—the regime's appeal organ. Other appellants helped me to get out of that place and I was hiding in the area around the South Railway Station in Beijing. On October 6, I was kidnapped by mobsters hired by my local county chief Lo Jie and sent to the dark prison in Fangshan District, Beijing. I was locked there until I escaped on October 29.”

In the prison, Xu was beaten up by a group of jailers that were about 20 years old. His head was badly swollen from the beatings and his request to see a doctor was rejected. After getting out of the dark prison, he was diagnosed by a doctor that he had lost his hearing in his left ear.

Xu said that October 15 to 22 (17th National Congress meeting period) was the peak period for imprisonment of appellants. All of them were beaten up cruelly at the prison, some lay in bed unable to eat for four days, some were crippled as a result.

According to Xu, this particular dark prison was located in a newly constructed building located in Zhangyang Town, Fangshan District, Beijing. The building has no address; it imprisons appellants from Chongqing City, and provinces such as Sichuan, Henan, Hunan, Zhejiang, Chengdu. The three provinces of northeast China, also sent appellants there.

Mobsters Run the Prison

All the prison wardens are mobsters, they cruelly beat up appellants. Some appellants had broken legs and broken arms. Appellants are allowed only five minutes outside their prison cells everyday. Appellants even had to get permission to go to the washroom; permission would be granted only when the guards were in a good mood. Everyone sat on ice cold floors, most wore only very thin clothes.

Xu disclosed that he heard that the local authorities paid each prison warden 200 yuan (about US$26) a day. This is a large salary in China.

The person in charge of the dark prison claimed, “This is a legal education class jointly run by the National Bureau of Letters and Visits and the Ministry of Public Security.” But Xu said, “All the guards inside were not official police but mobsters from society.”

Abominable Conditions and Treatment

Xu's claim is not an isolated case. On December 6 Zhang Yanju, one of five appellant representatives, also revealed their experiences of being tortured in the same dark prison.

During the 17th National Congress of the CCP, many female appellants were also imprisoned in the dark prison in Fangshan. According to some appellants, several female appellants were raped by the prison wardens; some were crippled from beatings after being raped. For various reasons, they still dared not speak out and make accusations.

A Beijing human rights volunteer said that through various reports from appellants, there are many “Dark Prisons” in Beijing and the appellants detained in those dark prisons are treated even worse than those legally imprisoned.