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Petitioners Assaulted as Police Discourage Beijing Influx

June 27, 2005

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that more than 30 petitioners from Shanghai were injured in clashes with police as they attempted to board a train for Beijing.

Sources in China told HRIC that on the night of June 24, petitioners Wang Qiaojuan, Wang Minqing, Yang Weiming and more than 30 others were attacked by dozens of police officers at Shanghai’s west train station as they were preparing to depart for the capital. Sources say that Wang Qiaojuan was beaten so severely that she collapsed with her face covered with blood. The petitioners recorded the badge number of the PSB officer who assaulted Wang Qiaojuan, as well as others involved in the violence. When some of the petitioners attempted to take Wang Qiaojuan to the hospital for treatment, PSB officers reportedly followed them and prevented Wang from being admitted.

The Shanghai petitioners had planned to travel to Beijing because of their dissatisfaction with the process outlined under the new petition regulations, which came into effect on May 1. The new regulations are meant to improve the effectiveness of official response to petitioners at the local level, with the aim of reducing the number of petitioners who feel it necessary to petition the central authorities in Beijing. For a time, in fact, many petitioners were happy to concentrate their efforts on the local authorities, and the flow of petitioners to Beijing decreased markedly. However, sources say that in the past two months, many petitioners have come to feel that local officials are not really committed to dealing effectively with their complaints, and feeling deceived, they have begun flooding Beijing again. According to some reports, the number of petitioners in Beijing at present exceeds that prior to the enactment of the new regulations.

“The Chinese authorities should concentrate their efforts on correcting flaws in the petitioning system rather than blaming the victims,” said HRIC president Liu Qing. “The government is understandably concerned about social stability, but fails to recognize that the actual source of the stability is corrupt and incompetent officials, rather than the ordinary people who have been left no other recourse than to protest the injustice that has been done to them. If the government wants fewer petitioners in Beijing, it should find ways to effectively address these injustices.”

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