Rights groups claim secret prisons, or “black” jails, are sprouting up on the mainland in a campaign by regional authorities to purge petitioners.
Accusations by rights groups of petitioners being secretly imprisoned have been circulating for two years. Evidence of the secret prisons’ existence has now come to light after a group of Beijing activists carried out a series of rescue missions from late last month to free petitioners locked up in a black jail attached to a run-down budget hotel in Beijing.
Early in the morning of September 21, I received an SMS from a petitioner from Henan saying they were locked up in a black jail in an alley behind the Youth Hotel on Taiping Street near Taoranting park.
For the last few years, I’ve kept hearing about black jails, but I thought they’d disappeared as we entered 2008. With this reappearance, I decided to go and take a look. This evil, ugly phenomenon cannot be tolerated.
I arrived at the dilapidated Youth Hotel on Taiping Street, followed the alley that runs along south of the hotel up to the No. 62 Middle School on the corner. Turning right along the alley after a hundred meters or so I saw several residents. A fat, bare-chested middle-aged man was squatting there. I couldn’t see any sign of the black jail so I asked the bare-chested guy, where they lock up the petitioners. He asked, where from. I said Henan, and he pointed to the side. It’s at the back of the Youth Hotel, there’s a white metal door and that’s the place.