On a recent Sunday night in an old neighborhood near the South Railway Station, not far from several government departments, a string of shacks and tents shielded hundreds of peasants who had recently arrived in the capital to see the authorities.
In theory, it was a day of rest, since the receiving hall of the Supreme Court and other government buildings were closed. But the peasants, who had traveled here from across China, were just beginning to prepare for the week. They had come to petition authorities over grievances in their home towns — in some cases alleging official abuses that went back 30 years…
The path the three men were on has been well tread. It is common for villagers to seek recourse with authorities in Beijing, and just as common for them to be sent packing. They are routinely stopped by police from their home provinces who come to Beijing’s government plazas, listen for accents like their own and round up the locals, lest villagers speak ill of officials back home and the number of complaints in Beijing rises. [Full Text]