Xinhua reported on Tuesday that ten people from Henan have received prison sentences for wrongfully imprisoning petitioners in Beijing, and must also pay compensation.
Wang Gaowei and his other nine accomplices, natives of Yuzhou City in central China’s Henan Province, imprisoned the 10 petitioners, also from Henan, in April 2012.
They were falsely imprisoned at two courtyards in Wangsiying Township in Beijing’s Chaoyang District for several days, according to the Beijing Chaoyang District People’s Court.
The court ruled that Wang and the other nine respondents had infringed the personal rights of the 10 petitioners, which constituted the crime of false imprisonment.
The case had previously surfaced in December, when premature reports of the sentences appeared in state media but were quickly dismissed as “fake news” by the court. Its resolution revives hopes that change may be afoot for the petitioners who flock to Beijing to air their grievances, but promising signs in the past have not brought an end to the illegal detentions, and uncertainty remains. From Josh Chin at China Real Time Report:
“If it’s the start of a sincere effort to curb the use of black jails and punish those involved, it’s quite significant,” said Joshua Rosenzweig, a human rights researcher at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “But I’d be reluctant to draw too many conclusions from just one case when it’s a problem that’s been so widespread for so many years.”
Nicholas Bequelin, senior Asia researcher for Human Rights Watch, described the court’s decision as one of a several signals the city has recently sent to local governments on the petitioner question. “Beijing’s message to the local officials has been: one, we don’t want your petitioners in Beijing, but two, we don’t want to know how you do that, and three, if something goes awry we won’t necessarily cover up for you,” said Mr. Bequelin.
See also a sympathetic Economic Observer profile of two Beijing-based interceptors and Yu Jianrong’s recent critique of the “rigid stability” machinery of which they are a part, via CDT.