“In China, if you have a complaint about a corrupt official, or if you have been badly treated by the police, it is hard to get your voice heard.” Chris Hogg reports for BBC from Xingtai, Shangdong:
In Shandong province, a small group of people claim they were locked up in a mental institution against their will after they dared to complain about the way the authorities treated them.
They now have the satisfaction of knowing their claims are being discussed on internet bulletin boards throughout the country.
And, unusually, their complaints have surfaced in the state media.
They were featured in an investigation by a Beijing newspaper into the treatment of “petitioners” – those who travel to the capital to air their grievances and petition the central authorities for their support.
The group, both men and women in their 40s or older, had different motives when they began petitioning, but all now have the same complaint: that they were detained illegally by the local officials they sought to expose.
They gather in a small insurance office next to a dusty road to tell their stories. Each is taking considerable risk in talking to a foreign journalist. All have been told in the past to “stop making trouble”.