China: Petitioners evicted ahead of Congress
|Publisher||Radio Free Asia|
|Publication Date||1 August 2012|
|Cite as||Radio Free Asia, China: Petitioners evicted ahead of Congress, 1 August 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/502228425.html [accessed 25 May 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Out-of-towners staked out in China's capital to pursue grievances with the government have seven days to leave.
Agitated petitioners are seen during a gathering in Beijing on Dec. 3, 2007 to protest against corruption. AFP/Teh Eng Koon
Landlords in Beijing have been warned by the authorities that they must terminate rental contracts with out-of-town residents pursuing complaints against the ruling Chinese Communist Party ahead of a crucial leadership summit later this year.
Many residents of Beijing's "petitioner village" have been issued with seven-day eviction notices from their landlords in recent days, according to Jiangxi-based rights activist Peng Zhonglin.
"They are stepping up security ahead of the 18th Party Congress," Peng said. "[The orders have come] from the district-level government, down to the neighborhood committees, down to the village."
"They are all being made responsible, and the police and the state security police have had orders requiring them to make sure all the petitioners have moved out by the time the seven-day deadline is up," he added.
"They have threatened to demolish the home of anyone who allows petitioners to stay with them."
Out of options
Li Xingzhong, a petitioner from the southwestern province of Sichuan staying in Lu village in Beijing's Tongzhou district, said he had received notification from his landlord on Tuesday that that the state security police had ordered him to leave within seven days.
"If we don't move, they will demolish these buildings," Li said. "This is causing us a huge amount of difficulty."
"We are here to report problems to the national government, but they won't let us stay here in Beijing, so how can we tell them our problems?"
"The officials at lower levels of government are all corrupt, and they won't do anything about it."
Petitioners said the authorities were implementing the new directive with no official documentation.
"If they want people to move, they should produce documents," said Hubei petitioners Huang Yusheng, who has also been told to leave within a week.
"In the past few days there has been a lot of rain," Huang said. "What are we supposed to do? They won't give any response; they just say we can't not move out."
A Sichuan petitioner surnamed Wang said that many petitioners are now out of options.
"We have come to Beijing to make complaints, and we need a place to stay," he said.
Henan petitioner Hu Xing'ai said the authorities had combined the eviction campaign with wide-ranging "clean-ups" of petitioners in Beijing.
"A lot of people have been detained while they were walking around near the southern railway station," Hu said. "A lot of people are also now homeless."
She said this wasn't the first time petitioners had been treated this way by authorities in Beijing.
"It has been like this in the past, but never this strict," she said. "A lot of people from Shanghai and Henan have been detained."
"I would guess that they have detained several hundred people. I am very worried, and we don't dare to leave our group."
"If you leave the group you could be dumped somewhere [in detention] and no one would know if you were dead or alive."
The Sichuan-based Tianwang rights website said it had received reports of more than 800 petitioners being detained in recent days and locked up in the Jiujingzhuang unofficial detention center on the outskirts of Beijing.
China's army of petitioners say they are repeatedly stonewalled, detained in "black jails," beaten, and harassed by authorities if they try to take complaints against local government actions to higher levels of government.
The contemporary "letters and visits" system was formally established in 1951 and reinstated during the 1980s following the large number of appeals against summary verdicts handed down during the political turmoil of the Cultural Revolution (1966-76).
China says it receives between 3 million and 4 million complaints in the form of "letters and visits" annually, with the number peaking at 12.72 million in 2003.
Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin service and by Wen Yuqing for the Cantonese service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.