Forced Abortion Victim in China Rails at Judges in 'Fraud' Trial

2013-10-24
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A Chinese mother stands by her newborn baby girl at a maternity hospital in Beijing, Jan. 26, 2012.
AFP

A Chinese woman charged in court with fraud after writing online about her forced abortion at the hands of the authorities said Thursday that she had been framed, slamming the judges for not listening to her side of the story, her lawyer and relatives said.

Li Fengfei, who appeared in a highly unstable mood, told the court in the southwestern province of Guizhou's Bijie city, that she was not concerned about her fate "because she didn't want to live since losing her baby."

She was arrested and charged with "embezzlement" for allegedly issuing fake receipts and official stamps after she took to the Internet to complain about being forced into a second-trimester abortion by family planning officials that left her critically ill for weeks.

"Li Fengfei lost her temper twice in the courtroom," her lawyer Li Guisheng said after the second day of her trial. "Her mood was very distressed, and she got into arguments with the judges."

"She said...she has nowhere to be heard, and that she thought that at least she would be given an opportunity to speak in court, and that she had waited a long, long time, but that when she got here, they wouldn't let her speak," Li Guisheng said.

"She was apoplectic, telling them she didn't care what they sentenced her to, because she didn't want to live since losing her baby," he said.

"She said that a lot."

'Worst sort of violence'

Li Guisheng said he had argued throughout that Li Fengfei is not guilty of the charges of embezzlement.

"I think she was framed," he said. "This isn't just a case of one individual, but it's about someone who is trying to protect other people, the people who have the power."

"They have used the worst sort of violence against her; the forced abortion," he said. "They locked up a pregnant woman in a detention center; this is the first time this has happened in Jinsha county in decades."

Li's husband Zhang Kainan said he agreed with her lawyer.

"None of [the alleged crimes] exist," Zhang said. "Before, they said she had falsified accounts, and all of that was overturned, so these charges are new, and nothing to do with the previous ones."

He said Li had told him the evidence presented by the prosecution was fake, adding that the couple's own rights had been violated by the authorities.

"We neither of us wanted that abortion, and we feel that they violated our rights," he said.

"The lawyer told me that forced abortions are illegal, but when we brought it up in court, the judges were against it, and it looked like we didn't even have the right to speak," Zhang said.

"They said it was unconnected to this case, but it was definitely connected, because the [prosecution officials] ordered her baby to be aborted on July 9, and that's why the abortion happened."

Family planning rules

Current family planning rules state that no abortions should be forced, and that none should be carried out after six months.

But experts say forced abortions have been the norm for decades under China's draconian one-child policy, as local officials strive to meet set quotas and impose fines for "excess births."

In June 2012, Shaanxi-based Feng Jianmei was forced to terminate her pregnancy at eight months, sparking global outrage after a graphic photo of Feng and her dead baby went viral.

The government launched an investigation and had officials, who had demanded a 40,000 yuan (U.S. $6,440) fine from Feng, apologize to her.

Another woman, Pan Chunyan, reported earlier that local family planning officials in Fujian province had forced her to get an abortion in her eighth month of pregnancy in April 2012.

Experts say the rules governing "excess birth" are unclear and often abused by local authorities, or by the rich and politically connected, who can afford to pay large fines for bigger families.

Last month, an official report said that around 1.6 billion yuan (U.S. $261.5 million) collected in fines—often with the threat of violence or forced abortions—from Chinese families who exceed draconian birthrate quotas was misadministered by officials.

The fines levied across nine Chinese provinces, cities and counties between 2009 and May 2012 for "excess births" were misadministered by local officials, according to a probe by the National Audit Office in Beijing.

Reported by Yang Fan for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

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