It’s a small bit of progress, but nonetheless worth noting. Via AP:
A Beijing court has sentenced 10 people to prison for illegally detaining petitioners, state media reported Tuesday, in an apparent blow for attempts by local governments to cover up abuses.
The petitioning system in China is basically a farce. Even if a petitioner beats the odds and manages to arrive in Beijing, avoiding government agents who seek to intercept and throw them into black jails, the chances of a petition actually being heard is slim to none. Basically, people would do better staying home and playing the lottery.
So, again, this has to be progress, right?
The government has recently begun acknowledging the existence of such places as part of modest attempts to stamp out the most glaring abuses of power.
The official Xinhua News Agency said on its microblog that the defendants received sentences Tuesday ranging from two years to six months. It said the defendants rounded up 11 petitioners and illegally detained them in two courtyards in Beijing for several days. The court said that this was a violation of citizens’ personal rights, Xinhua reported.
We’re not told how criminally negligent these 10 people must have been to warrant their jail sentence, or what other crimes they committed. Still, it’s clear what message the central government is trying to send to its people: trust us.
It shouldn’t take long — considering thousands of petitioners pilgrimage to the capital every year — before we find out whether they deserve that trust.