Image credit: Cecil Lee.
Illegal detention centres or ‘black jails‘ were officially banned in March 2012, but as Al Jazeera reported at the time, the practice of locking petitioners up without trial showed little sign of going away. Now CNN reports that petitioners heading to Beijing for the 18th Party Congress were apprehended by police and allegedly detained for eight days in a Shanghai Holiday Inn.
Xie was [at the Holiday Inn], she said, because she was forced to be – held in a hotel room for eight days after she and her 56-year-old husband, Ma Haiming, traveled to Beijing in March to protest the compensation they were given for the demolition of the family’s farmhouse to make way for the expansion of Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport in 2005. When the couple arrived in Beijing, Xie said they were picked up by plain clothes police and forced to travel hundreds of miles back to Shanghai, then held separately at the hotel.
Xie and her husband were not alone. Three other people have told CNN they were held against their will at the Holiday Inn Express Nanhuizui – located in Lingang New City on the outskirts of Shanghai – to keep them from airing grievances to the central government during the 10-day annual meeting of China’s legislature in March. The hotel management and owners deny their claims.
The InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), the UK-based firm that owns the Holiday Inn Express brand, said there was no indication that guests at the hotel were being held against their will last March.
Xie said there were several guards posted outside of her Holiday Inn Express room and two women who were living in the room with her whose job was to monitor her.
When the front desk worker was asked whether they were aware people had allegedly been held against their will in the hotel, the employee said there were a number of guests who were staying in their rooms and were not leaving, and there were people standing outside their room, but that they had no idea why. [Emphasis added]