Petitioners Rescued from Beijing Black Jail

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A group of petitioners have successfully freed three other petitioners detained in a black jail in Beijing. It shows new signs that people in China, facing oppression, are increasingly willing to stand up to authorities in their fight for justice.

Three petitioners illegally detained in Beijing were freed last Friday, thanks to the efforts of fellow petitioners. The trio spent more than 40 days at the Hunan Binzhou office in Beijing. Authorities there had turned the office into what's known as a "black jail"—a place where petitioners are held to stop them from voicing their grievances to central authorities.

A petitioner from Liaoning Province, Zhao Zhenjia, led the rescue effort. After getting a text message from Yu Hong asking for help, Zhao eventually found him and others in a remote location in Fengtai, Beijing.

With photo proof of the illegal detention, Zhao with a dozen other petitioners and local reporters stormed the office Friday morning. The trio was freed when their captors—who could not justify the detention—left the building.

Yu recounted what they'd been through.

[Yu Hong, Freed Petitioner]:
"When we were detained, we were starved and humiliated. We were sick but couldn't get any medical help. One of the elder petitioners was sick for four or five days and couldn't get any medicine, even though he was going to pay for it himself."

This is a rare win for China's petitioners, who usually face an uphill battle against Communist authorities when fighting for justice. Zhao likened their effort to the protest in Wukan, Guangdong last December, where locals earned a rare concession from the Chinese regime after a lengthy mass protest.

[Zhao Zhenjia, Rescued Petitioner]:
"The Chinese Communist Party is already on the way down, when officials break the law nothing can be done.