Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that Shanghai authorities detained a large number of petitioners in advance of the current sessions of Shanghai’s People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, which began on January 14.
Sources in China told HRIC that beginning on January 14, authorities have restricted public access to the area immediately surrounding Shanghai’s Sino-Soviet Friendship Building, where the People’s Congress and Consultative Conference hold their meetings. Sources say that petitioners from all over Shanghai planned to gather in Shanghai’s Jing’an District Park at 9 a.m. on January 14 and then proceed together to the Sino-Soviet Friendship Building to petition the People’s Congress and Consultative Conference. Upon learning of the plan, Shanghai authorities began rounding up long-time petitioners such as Ma Yalian and Wang Qiaojuan as early as January 12, holding them in vacant holiday units in the city’s suburbs.
In addition, HRIC’s sources say the authorities deployed manpower totaling 1,000, including not only Public Security police, court and petitions office officials, but also private security guards and hired thugs, to obstruct the petitioners. The authorities reportedly shut down public transport stations surrounding the Jing’an District Park, then detained all petitioners as they arrived at the park on the morning of the 14th.
Detained petitioners were reportedly loaded into police vehicles and taken to Public Security dispatch stations in their districts of residence. Among the detainees, 60-year-old Du Yangming was placed in criminal detention on January 15 on charges of “creating a disturbance,” and is being held in Shanghai’s Zhabei Detention Center. The whereabouts of some detained petitioners, such as Shen Yongmei, remain unknown. Others, such as Wang Liqing, Tian Baocheng and Zhang Cuiping, have been kept under effective house arrest. When Zheng Cuiping became ill, she was reportedly escorted to the hospital by half a dozen police officers.