About 30 Chongqing policewomen, hired during the heyday of disgraced political maverick Bo Xilai and his police chief Wang Lijun, were detained and intimidated after rallying on Tuesday for better treatment, witnesses say.
The rare protest highlights the many problems tied to Bo's term as the Communist Party chief of the municipality. A representative with the Jinan Intermediate People's Court in Shandong said yesterday they had officially received Bo's indictment, filed last week.
Reuters yesterday quoted anonymous sources as saying Bo had agreed to plead guilty, although it is not clear if Bo would plead guilty to all or only some of the charges of accepting bribes, corruption and abuse of power.
A policewoman with direct knowledge of what happened on Tuesday said the protesters were detained in a police bureau overnight and released yesterday morning. She said her colleagues were now under house arrest in their dormitory and forbidden from accessing social media.
"We too are police officers, and shouldn't be treated so cruelly," the policewomen said in an emotional outburst. "They are so prejudiced towards us."
Some witnesses said the women were hit and kicked by police and later forced to get into police vehicles on Tuesday. Phone calls to the Chongqing police bureau went unanswered. The women signed a two-year contract with a government-run human resources company in September 2011. The municipality's police bureau, which was supervised by
Wang at the time, promised they would be joining the government payrolls soon. They have been being performing the same duties as other police officers, but are not counted as part of the civil service force.
"The hiring of police must be approved by the Ministry of Public Security, that is why these policewomen are registered under a company," said a male officer in the bureau.
The policewoman said that Chongqing authorities slashed salaries and curtailed benefits to the policewomen after Bo's downfall last March.
They told them their current status would not be changed for "political reasons", she said.
"People are looking at us differently after rumours spread online, and we are uncomfortable talking about our job with others," she said.
"We are now labelled 'Wang's mistresses', and as a consequence, have trouble finding new jobs or boyfriends."
Additional reporting by Laura Zhou