07/17/2008, 00.00
CHINA
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Petitioner dies falling from a Beijing bridge

She was detained and in the process of being expelled from the city. Police has put down her death to suicide, but many open questions remain. Petitioners are increasingly subjected to repressive measures in the capital. Some 1,500 have been arrested. Meanwhile in Sichuan police mistreat parents who want justice for their children, killed by the collapse of their schools.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A woman fell to her death from a bridge in Beijing as repression against petitioners and protesters increases ahead of next month’s Olympics.

The Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (ICHRD) reported that a 54-year-old woman from (Jiangxi) was detained on Monday for presenting a petition in Beijing. She was scheduled to be sent home the next day but jumped to her death from bridge near a railway station.

The Hong Kong-based ICHRD described the woman as a veteran petitioner and said she had gone to Beijing several times before.

The authorities in the Chinese capital have been rounding up petitioners this week, some immediately shipped off to their hometowns

In recent days state-run media have told the public that the government had ordered leaders around the country to "thoroughly" deal with local disputes after recent protests in Guizhou and Zhejiang provinces brought dissatisfaction with officials in the countryside into the open.

In Jianghua (Hunan) the authorities thoroughly dealt with grassroots protests by informing the public with banners that all petitions against the government are banned.

On Tuesday more than 200 parents have protested against Mianzhu City Hall in Sichuan, demanding to know why the Dongqi Middle School collapsed killing their children in the 12 May quake.

Some parent leaders said they wanted to meet the mayor of Mianzhu.

Instead, an official said the parents were violating public security laws.

“Then the riot police started pushing and dragging,” said Liu, a carpenter, whose son died in the school collapse. “Some of the outraged parents got into physical confrontations with the police. I saw eight or nine parents carried away to patrol cars.”

“When my son entered the school in 2006, they promised to build new buildings. This was written in the enrolment welcome letter. But they didn't keep their word, and then the earthquake happened,” Liu added.

Now many parents want to petition higher authorities. Perhaps in Beijing.

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