Liaowang, or Outlook, a dependably stodgy publication aimed at Communist Party bureaucrats and policy makers, ran an exposé on Tuesday laying out the Byzantine network of interceptors, guards and holding pens used to put off the petitioners who flock to Beijing in the hope that the authorities will resolve longstanding grievances, many of them involving official corruption in their hometowns.
According to the report, which was also published online by the official Xinhua news agency, those grabbed off the street often have their cellphones and identification confiscated before being locked away in guesthouses or dank basements. After being held for days or weeks, inadequately fed and sometimes beaten, they are shipped back to their home provinces with the admonition that they stay away from the capital.
At peak times, the article said, as many as 10,000 retrievers — those paid by local officials to keep petitioners from successfully filing their complaints — roam Beijing in search of quarry. The report counted 73 secret detention centers, many of them run by regional governments, and laid out in detail the lucrative business of retrieving, detaining and sending home petitioners. The magazine described it as a “chain of gray industry.”
Such a system of extralegal detention, sometimes called black jails, “damages the legitimate rights of petitioners and seriously damages the government’s image,” the article said.
Read more about black jails via CDT. The original Liaowang article is here.