Ten people have been tried and convicted for unlawfully imprisoning protesters in Beijing in one of China's now infamous “black jails.”
Xinhua News reports that 11 demonstrators were captured and held in two courtyards in Wangsiying township, Chaoyang district, in 2012. They weren't allowed to leave for two to six days, until police stepped in.
The suspects, all aged 17 to 32 years old, have been found guilty of false imprisonment. As two of them are minors, they have been sentenced to six to 10 months in jail.
They have been ordered to pay damages of 1,300 yuan to 2,400 yuan ($208 to $385) to every petitioner they attacked.
“I was reluctant to get in the car, but they forcibly threw me into it. […] My blouse was pulled off during the process. I was extremely aggrieved,” Jin Hongjuan, one of the female victims of the 10 assailants, describes.
According to WSJ, the father of one of the defendants hinted that his son was working for the local government when capturing the petitioners.
“A for-hire notice was posted in our township for security guards in Beijing, offering free board and lodging. My son was hired in early 2012,” says Wang Shilei's father.
“Beijing’s message to the local officials has been: one, we don’t want your petitioners in Beijing, but two, we don’t want to know how you do that, and three, if something goes awry we won’t necessarily cover up for you,” argues Nicholas Bequelin, senior Asia researcher for Human Rights Watch.
“If it’s the start of a sincere effort to curb the use of black jails and punish those involved, it’s quite significant.
“But I’d be reluctant to draw too many conclusions from just one case when it’s a problem that’s been so widespread for so many years,” adds Joshua Rosenzweig, researching human rights at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.