Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that over 200 petitioners in Shanghai were detained for one day after protesting the content of an official article reporting the success of the petitioning system. Several petitioners remain in detention following further protests of their treatment.
At around noon on April 11, more than 200 Shanghai petitioners, including Ma Yalian, Chen Enjuan, Sun Xicheng and Xi Guozhen, went to the offices of the official Party paper, Shanghai's Liberation Daily, to protest an article published on April 9. The petitioners claimed that the article presented a distorted picture of the actual plight of Shanghai's petitioners. The article stated that more than 80 Letters and Petitions Offices throughout the city had accepted more than 1.1 million petitions in the year 2006, and that "each and every petition had received due attention and reply." The petitioners argued that the Liberation Daily as a mouthpiece of the Shanghai municipal government, ignored the voices of the people, was trying to gloss over problems, and presented a misleading picture to the new Party Secretary of the Shanghai Municipal Committee, Xi Jinping.
Over 100 police officers reportedly confronted the petitioners and forcibly loaded them into police vehicles. They were taken to a secondary school in Shanghai's Huangpu District, where they were held until the evening and then released.
The following day, on April 12, around 30 petitioners went to see district head Chen Anjie during his regular public session for petitions, and express their dissatisfaction to him, but no one was willing to meet with them. They proceeded to the district government office, where they were confronted by a dozen police officers. One petitioner, Chen Suqin, was reportedly knocked unconscious during the confrontation. She was taken to a hospital for treatment, but was then taken away by police. Two other petitioners, Zhang Hui and Liu Shan, were also detained and at last report have not yet been released.
For the past several years, local Shanghai authorities have been cracking down on petitioners through forcible repatriation, illegal detentions and imprisonment based on trumped-up charges. According to information collected by HRIC, since 2000, at least 100 petitioners in Shanghai have been detained, sent to Reform Through Labor, or sentenced on criminal charges. HRIC urges the new Party Secretary of the Shanghai Municipal Committee, Xi Jinping, who has expressed public concern over the situation of petitioners in Shanghai, to address their complaints and critically reexamine the current policy towards petitioners.