China: Human Rights Watch Documents Chinese Black Jails
It’s titled “An Alleyway in Hell”—a report Human Rights Watch released on Wednesday.
The rights group interviewed 35 Chinese citizens who wanted to go to Beijing, or other provincial capitals, to submit grievances on abuses—grievances like illegal land grabs, corruption or police torture. But instead of getting help, the petitioners were detained in what are called black jails—places like state-owned hotels, nursing homes, or psychiatric hospitals being used as makeshift detention centers.
[Sophie Richardson, Asia Advocacy Director, Human Rights Watch]:
“We’ve documented everything from threats of rape and other forms of psychological abuse, to the detention of children in these facilities, some as young as six years old, fairly horrific physical abuse, theft, extortion, ticking on down the list. And there’s absolutely no way for people to have redress for the kinds of abuse that they’re subject to in these facilities, in part because the Chinese government continues to deny that they even exist.“
Black jails started to be used more often after the Chinese regime barred police from randomly detaining vagrants. For the past six years, officials and state agents have been routinely abducting petitioners off the street to avoid being penalized for having too many grievances come from their jurisdictions.
Chinese petitioner Zheng Dajing says he was detained for more than a year in a black jail near Beijing’s South Railway station.
He recalls how three men pulled him into a van when he was on his way to Beijing to the „petitions and appeals“ offices to make a housing complaint.
[Zheng Dajing, Petitioner]:
„After they caught me they pushed me inside. Two people were on top of me, holding me and all three of them were holding me down. I couldn’t even breathe. They were deliberately trying to hurt me.“
But despite petitioners’ stories, the Chinese regime repeatedly denies the existence of these black jails. In June this year in the Outcome Report of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review, the regime stated, “There are no black jails in the country.”
Most of the former detainees that Human Rights Watch interviewed said they were abducted arbitrarily. They were not told why they were being detained or for how long.
Sophie Richardson stated in the Human Rights Watch report „The existence of black jails in the heart of Beijing makes a mockery of the Chinese government’s rhetoric on improving human rights and respecting the rule of law.“