(Photo: Two elderly petitioners held in a Beijing black jail Jan 2012. Photo courtesy of a source in China.)
A group 14 people broke into a “black jail” in a remote part of Xinjiang Province to rescue their friend, Tang Xueqin, at around 4 a.m. on Aug. 24.
In China people refer to Black Jails as the illegal detention places that local regime officials use to detain petitioners, activists and other citizens without any legal procedure.
Tang was detained on Aug. 16 because the local officials want to stop him from going to Beijing to petition. In 2006, Tang was evicted from his farmland with no compensation by a semi-military government-run economic collective. He has been trying to petition his grievances ever since.
There is a specific government office in Beijing for petitioners, which is supposed to receive letters, calls, and visits from people, and then deal with their concerns. But this system ends up achieving very little.
On the day that Tang was detained, officials told him they’d arrange for him to meet with leaders who run the security apparatus, to discuss his complaint. But the meeting turned out to be a trap.
Tang was locked up in the black jail and tortured. This was the 13th time he has been illegally detained since 2012. The 14 friends who rescued him were also petitioners that were once detained and persecuted in the same black jail.
“What they are doing can’t be called maintaining stability anymore,” says Tang. “They kidnap you and rob you, but you can’t even resist. If you do, they accuse you of disturbing public order. If you fight back, they call you violent terrorists.”