CHINA—After the Chinese Congress Sessions in Beijing, petitioners that had been forcibly repatriated to their home towns returned to Beijing in an attempt to petition their grievances again.
Starting on April 6, the Chinese communist authority took new actions to tackle the petitioner issue in order to maintain Beijing's “image.” The authority sent out many police officers to block petitioners on their way out of the petition village(1).
They used buses to covertly reroute petitioners to Majialou—the petitioners' processing center in a remote Beijing suburb. Petitioners said that once they arrived in Majialou, the authority dodged their petition problems, passing their request to lower-level officials. They asked petitioners to register their names, gave them a receipt, and then sent them out as if they were beggars.
According to one petitioner, at the entrance of a petition village the police officers shouted out: “Go to Majialou to register your name and requests. There is a shuttle bus to Majialou!” The petitioners were fooled into stepping on the bus. And then the bus was escorted by police cars to the petition processing center.
Another petitioner said that there are only three entrances left in the village. At those entrances, many buses and police cars were parked. More than 20 police officers waited there, threatening and fooling petitioners into going to Majialou. After petitioners' registration, the buses carried them back. All of the above is to prevent petitioners from going to Beijing to petition.
The Olympic Spirit Smokescreen
Because petitioners could not resolve their problems at their own local petition offices, out of hope, they went back to Beijing to petition. These petitioners went to Tiananmen Square, Wen Jiabao's residence and office, and the United Nations to complain about the injustice. The authority regards this act as defaming the image of the “harmonious society” and the 2008 Olympic spirit.
According to the regime's mouth piece, Xinhua news agency, the petitions in China have decreased 15.5 percent in total. Xinhua claimed four decreases in the total number of petitions, group petitions, abnormal petitions and rallies. And thus, concludes “fewer and fewer people go petitioning.”
Just a Colored Band-Aid
But scholars and petitioners have different opinions. They said that the higher-level authority colludes with the lower-level to conceal the real number of petitions. To prevent many petitioners from entering Beijing city and damaging the appearance of the city, the authority concocted this “image reconstruction” to deal with petitioners. They intend to create a false impression that petitioners have decreased.
To prevent petitioners from entering Beijing, the police even tore down the tents petitioners erected. To limit the petitioners' area of activity, only three entrances are open, while other entrances were blocked by walls so police could route them to other locations.
Human rights defenders commented that this act cannot solve the root problem. Instead, the authority harasses people and wastes money. It infringes on petitioners' basic human rights.
(1) This is a squatter's village where petitioners stay and venture out to petition their grievances to the national appeals office, public officials, or the public against corruption and other illegal activities by local officials.