Black jails  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Black jails are a network of extralegal detention centers established by Chinese security forces and private security companies across the People's Republic of China in recent years. They are used mainly to detain, without trial, petitioners (上访者, shangfangzhe), who travel to seek redress for grievances unresolved at the local level. The right to petition was available in ancient China, and was later revived by the communists, with important differences.

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