"I was scared to death when they suddenly barged in here," Wang said, pointing at the door, where the lock had just been replaced.
The men refused to identify themselves and bundled her into a minivan with other petitioners. At another stop, she saw a couple dragged into the vans in their pajamas, the woman wearing only one shoe.
All were taken to a police station in nearby Jiujingzhuang village, where many petitioners say police process them for return to their hometowns. Using someone else's identity, Wang was able to evade police suspicion and was released. Many of the others were sent back, she said.
The raids are having an effect. The compound that houses her room and others now has only a handful of residents, down from about 30.
"They've all been chased away, caught or scared home," said Liu Zhifa, a 67-year-old petitioner from Henan province and one of the holdouts. Liu confirmed Wang's description of the Oct. 31 raid and described his own encounter with thugs breaking his lock and entering his room three times in one night in mid-October.
"I asked them to show their identifications, and they yelled at me, saying 'What right do you have to see our identification? Who do you think you are?" said Liu. "They were ruthless. The authorities and the police are working with people in the underworld."
A police officer who would only give his surname, Wei, answered the phone at a Jiujingzhuang police station (not 'the' because the police station has another name) and denied that authorities were raiding petitioners' villages. "We only act according to the law," Wei said. Questions about the broader crackdown were referred to the Beijing public security bureau, which did not respond to faxed questions.