According to the BBC and Human Rights Watch, the Chinese government is running illegal, secret prisons to hold political dissidents and regular citizens who went to Beijing to file grievances about local problems.
China is running a number of unlawful detention centres in which its citizens can be kept for months, according to Human Rights Watch.
It says these centres – known as black jails – are often in state-run hotels, nursing homes or psychiatric hospitals.
Among those detained are ordinary people who have traveled to Beijing to report local injustices.
China says it is a country ruled by laws, but there are other sources to suggest that black jails do exist.
The human rights group report, entitled An Alleyway in Hell, says ordinary people are often abducted off the streets and taken to illegal detention centres.
They are sometimes stripped of their possessions, beaten and given no information about why they have been detained.
Human Rights Watch said it collected information for the report by interviewing 38 detainees earlier this year.
Many of those held are petitioners, people who travel to Beijing to present their complaints to the State Bureau for Letters and Calls.
This national government department is supposed to help ordinary people across the country redress their grievances.
But some petitioners are detained by plainclothes security officers when they arrive in Beijing.
“The existence of black jails in the heart of Beijing makes a mockery of the Chinese government’s rhetoric on improving human rights and respecting the rule of law,” said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.
This is not dissimilar in process to the Chinese government offering protest permits prior to the 2008 Olympics and then subsequently arresting anyone who came to apply for the permits. Apparently peaking out against government abuses at any level in China is cause for being treated like a terrorist.
This situation also makes clear how fundamentally problematic it is for the US government to have maintained secret prisons and CIA black sites, where terror suspects were rendered to, detained without habeas corpus, and tortured. The US has little legal or moral standing to critique this sickening behavior by the Chinese government. But that does not mean that it is not wrong and people of conscience cannot speak out. Granted, even the US government can and should speak out, but do so with the foreknowledge that the Chinese government will laugh them out of the proverbial room.
I can say with some ease that what the Chinese government is doing with these black jails is immoral, illegal, and wrong. It is also yet another sign of the tenuous hold the Communist Party has on power in China. These are the actions of a government that is fundamentally afraid of its citizens and such fear-driven responses will only generate greater outrage from the Chinese people. Thus the CCP is setting themselves down a path to their own downfall.