Chinese petitioners detained during Biden`s visit

The farmers, all women were from southwest China`s Sichuan province.

Last Updated: Sep 15, 2011, 22:04 PM IST

Beijing: Police detained and tied up six Chinese farmers involved in land disputes with the government to prevent them from trying to see Vice President Joe Biden during his visit last month, one of the farmers said on Thursday.

The farmers, all women from southwest China`s Sichuan province, filed a joint complaint with provincial prosecutors this week against police in Chengdu, Sichuan`s capital, said Gan Xingyan, 46, one of the plaintiffs.

Police frequently detain dozens of activists and petitioners in Beijing and elsewhere in China ahead of major events such as the 2008 Beijing Olympics, President Barack Obama`s first state visit to the country in 2009 and National
Day celebrations on October 1.

In Chengdu, police detained the farmers for days, put handcuffs and leg irons on them, tied them to benches and starved some of them in order to block them from seeing Biden when he made a stop in the city on August 20, Gan said.

"They threatened us and interrogated us without stop and kept us awake," she said in a phone interview. "They detained us without any proper documents and tortured us with despicable means. We want justice, but we`re not sure whether
we will get it in the end."

A phone call to the media office of the Chengdu Public
Security Bureau rang unanswered Thursday. A woman who answered
a call at the media office of the Shuangliu county Public
Security Bureau hung up the phone. The farmers are from
Shuangliu.

Four of the women were rounded up by plainclothes police
in the early hours of August 20 while they were staying at a
friend`s place next to Sichuan University where Biden was to
address students hours later while another two were picked up
at the north gate of the university later that day, the
complaint said. A seventh farmer on the complaint was taken
away August 30, more than a week after Biden left China, it
said.

The complaint was published on 64Tianwang.com, a Chinese
human rights website run by veteran activist Huang Qi. It is
accompanied by photos that Gan said she took of one of the
women lying on a hospital bed with large bruises on her legs
from being tied to a bench for days until she finally fainted.
Gan said the woman was still in the hospital.

All of the women are petitioners who have tried for years
to bring attention to their grievances over unfair
compensation for farmland seized by the local government in
Shuangliu, Gan said.

The US Embassy in Beijing declined to comment.

PTI