Petitioners Held in Secret Detention

Activists in southwestern China want authorities to release two long-detained petitioners.

Petitioners in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan are calling for an investigation into the status of two fellow activists who have been held by local officials for the past six months, they said on Wednesday.

Cement factory worker Luo Keyin said on Wednesday that she had traveled to Sichuan's Pujiang county in an attempt to secure the release of petitioners Jiang Guorong and Liu Cunqing, who had been held in the county by four unidentified security guards.

"[One] petitioner is Jiang Guorong, and she has been held under house arrest by them for the past six months or more," Luo said.

"There are four people who won't let her out," she said. "We called the police, but they didn't come."

Jiang said on Wednesday that she had been held at the same address since March 5.

"They won't let me leave," she said. "They won't release me."

"They also beat me," said a sobbing Jiang. "My arms are black and blue. I was beaten by 20-30 people from the Pujiang county government."

Jiang had been complaining to local authorities about the loss of her family's farmland to development, she said.

"Today, some of my sisters came, I saw them," Jiang said. "When they caught sight of me they shouted for me to leave with them."

A 'key' figure

One of the security guards confirmed he was holding Jiang under government orders.

"We are from Qingyang," he said when asked why he was detaining Jiang. "Higher authorities told us to do this."

"They told us she was a 'key' petitioning figure."

He said the district government in Jiang's home district and the developer who had evicted local farmers from their land were still "discussing" the case.

An officer who answered the phone at the local police station declined to comment on Jiang and Liu's situation.

"I don't know about this," the officer said.

Luo said she had reported the detention to the local police, who told her that Qingyang officials were coming to take Jiang back to her home district, while Liu had already been taken to an undisclosed location.

Petitioners frequently report cases of beatings, kidnappings, and "accidental" deaths which befall them as they seek redress for alleged official wrongdoing.

Many Chinese petitioners say they are repeatedly stonewalled, detained in “black jails,” beaten, and harassed by the authorities if they try to petition a higher level of government.

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.