Petitioner seeking justice stabs ‘interceptor’ to death in Beijing

Man who has repeatedly been thwarted from petitioning in Beijing kills one and injures another of the men hired to force him back home

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 November, 2013, 12:50pm
UPDATED : Friday, 29 November, 2013, 5:32pm

A Henan petitioner who travelled to Beijing, seeking justice for housing demolitions, has stabbed to death one of the men hired to intercept him and bring him back to his home province, a report said.

Gong Jinjun, 57, was riding in a van he was forced into with three other petitioners, when he fatally stabbed one of eight “interceptors” riding with them to Henan province earlier this month, Southern Weekend reported recently. He also injured another hired man with a knife.

Before being escorted home, Gong, who hails from Hebi city, and the other petitioners had been kept in a “black jail”, or secret detention centre.

Gong had reportedly travelled to Beijing multiples times in the past four years to complain about housing demolition disputes and was repeatedly intercepted.

The man who was stabbed to death was in his 20s and a native of Shaanxi province, Southern Weekend said.

Petitioners who travel to the Chinese capital are subject to frequent harassment and even detainment in “black jails” before being sent home.

Provincial governments have been accused of hiring these “interceptors”, some of whom are local officials, to prevent their constituents from appealing to higher government authorities. Interceptors are typically young men hired for as little as 200 yuan (HK$250) for each accomplished mission, the weekly quoted another petitioner as saying.

This is hardly the first violence between petitioners and interceptors. In 2009, a 16-year old petitioner, also seeking justice for over demolitions, stabbed his 33-year old interceptor to death.

China has recently pledged to reform its notorious petitioning system in the Third Plenum.

Li Gao, deputy director of the State Bureau for Letters and Calls, said in a press conference on Wednesday that the central body in charge of dealing with complaints would stop ranking the provinces based on the number of petitions received from each area. More petitions reflect badly on the province as it’s taken as a sign of the inability to maintain stability.

It is a practice that started in 2005, widely blamed to have driven local officials to suppressing petitioning with brutal means.