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    China Railways Use "Real Name System" to Block Petitioners

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    NTDTelevision

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    China's railways instituted a "real name system" this year to keep track of exactly who is traveling on the country's railways. A human rights group now says the system is being used to block petitioners from reaching Beijing to make appeals to central authorities.

    China's "real name system" for its railways has become similar to its internet access regulations, which have generally been seen as a way for Communist authorities to monitor dissent.

    The comparison with the train ticket requirement wasn't initially obvious, until it became clear that petitioners were being blocked from traveling to Beijing.

    The country's "Two Sessions" meetings of political administration and Communist Party leaders are currently underway in Beijing. A heavy security regime is in place, and human rights groups have reported that petitioners already in the capital are being stopped by police after being identified. In some cases, the petitioners are then sent home.

    Others are being stopped when they try to board trains for Beijing. On March 10, the NGO 'Human Rights Campaign in China' reported that eight petitioners from Fujian were stopped on their way to Beijing. The petitioners were buying tickets at Xiangtang Railway Station in Jiangxi, when police stopped them after checking their IDs.

    Witnesses reported that the police had said that central authorities had established a clear rule that all those heading to Beijing must undergo a strict checking process.

    [Zhang Jianping, Activist, Human Rights Campaign in China]:
    "The real-name system is aimed at human rights activists and petitioners. No matter which new policy or rule, what is the purpose behind them? If they're aimed at vulnerable people and at the public's legal rights, then there is a problem with such policies."