Local officials in China have been accused of blocking petitioners who flocked to a hotel in central China’s city of Zhengzhou seeking to meet inspectors from the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) to report on corruption.
The country’s top anti-corruption watchdog has started a new round of nationwide inspections to uncover corruption in various state organizations. The team that travelled to Henan province was staying at the Yellow River Guesthouse in Zhengzhou, where it was available to receive reports from local whistleblowers and petitioners.
“We hope the inspection team can help us,” a 43-year-old petitioner Jiang Xiaocai was quoted by the Telegraph as saying.
“Our hopes are faint but they are still hopes, otherwise we wouldn’t have come down here,” he added.
But local officials surrounded the hotel to block “abnormal petitioners” who hoped to air their grievances, many related to abuses by local authorities.
A local party leader said failing to stop the petitioners would be considered a serious dereliction of duty.
Local media slammed the move as an infringement on citizens’ petition rights and obstruction of anti-corruption work. The public also urged central inspection teams to thoroughly investigate local officials who ambushed petitioners outside the hotel.
Persistent petitioners are often held in “discipline centers” or “black jails” and subject to abuses.
China has banned government bodies from blocking or detaining petitioners in March, but rights group warned that arbitrary detentions continue nonetheless.
Sources: The Telegraph, AFP, Beijing News (新京报)
Hui Zhi is the Senior Manager for Content with the China Compliance Digest, where a version of this post first appeared.