[Image: Police officers outside Majialou, a detention center for people who come to Beijing petitioning seeking redress of grievances. Photo by Du Bin for The New York Times.]
Forgive the bulk reposting here of this article in today's New York Times, but I could not find the resolve to omit any part of it in my own relay. Here is how the Chinese appear to practice their own domestic brand of extraordinary rendition, ironically not by whisking people who are suspected of any wrong doing away to jails that technically do not exist, but common citizens who are merely trying to file a grievance with the Chinese government itself.
Micro-prisons, mobile execution chambers, a common place torture is alive and well right there in the streets of Beijing!
From this article -- Seeking Justice, Chinese Land in Secret Jails -- written by Andrew Jacobs:
BEIJING — They are often tucked away in the rough-and-tumble sections of the city’s south side, hidden beneath dingy hotels and guarded by men in dark coats. Known as “black houses,” they are unofficial jails for the pesky hordes of petitioners who flock to the capital seeking justice. [...]
According to the state media, 10 million petitions have been filed in the last five years on complaints as diverse as illegal land seizures and unpaid wages. The numbers would be far higher but for the black houses, also called black jails, the newest weapon local officials use to prevent these aggrieved citizens from embarrassing them in front of central government superiors. Officially, these jails do not exist.
In China’s authoritarian state, senior officials tally petitions to get a rough sense of social order around the country. A successfully filed petition — however illusory the prospect of justice — is considered a black mark on the bureaucratic record of the local officials accused of wrongdoing.
So the game, sometimes deadly, is to prevent a filing. The cat-and-mouse contest has created a sizable underground economy that enriches the interceptors, the police and those who run the city’s ad hoc detention centers. [...]
Rights advocates say that black houses have sprouted in recent years partly because top leaders have put more pressure on local leaders to reduce the number of petitioners reaching Beijing. Two of the largest holding pens, Majialou and Jiujingzhuang, can handle thousands of detainees who are funneled to the smaller detention centers, where cellphones and identification cards are confiscated.
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