'I Planned to Set Fire to Myself'

2013-07-05
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china-ran-chongbi-june-2013.jpg
Ran Chongbi (third from right) with a group of petitioners at the State Bureau for Visits and Calls' office in Beijing on June 20, 2013.
Photo courtesy of petitioner Yang Qiuyu

A Chinese petitioner who was held for carrying suspicious items at a Hong Kong political rally Monday has been released on bail by police in the territory after being held for two days. Ran Chongbi says she joined the July 1 march to protest over a lack of police action following the 2008 rape of her then five-year-old daughter. After she told police she planned to self-immolate, Ran was taken to a Hong Kong hospital and held for observation over a suspected mood disorder. In an interview with RFA's Cantonese Service following her release, Ran, 38, explains that she came to Hong Kong to draw attention to her daughter's case:

I have no energy at all, and my head hurts. The police said I was trying to gather a crowd, but I told them I wasn't.

I wasn't opposing anything, and I didn't try to get a whole group of people to go there. I went there alone on behalf of my child. My main aim was to win support for my child's case, across the whole country.

I had no other intention. The police asked me why I was carrying a lighter, clothes, and methylated spirits, and I said I was carrying them because I didn't feel I could go on living, because my child's life has been taken away from her, and laid waste.

Now she has post-traumatic stress and she is receiving treatment in Beijing. Back in 2008, when my daughter was supposed to go there for treatment, the Guangdong authorities used mafia connections to stop her going there. They beat us up. They dragged my mother onto a train and forced us not to go.

I told [the Hong Kong police] I wasn't planning to set fire to anyone else, but that I wanted to set fire to myself and kill myself. I told them I had already written my suicide note.

I want people from around the world to care about my child. I said I had no desire to live any more; I can't go on! That's what I told them.

Ran is currently being assisted by a Chinese rights group, the Chinese People's Rights Defenders' Alliance, to find accommodation, founder Liu Weiping said. They are currently seeking donations to support Ran while she tries to fight her case in Hong Kong, where she must report back to police in September.

Reported by Pan Jiaqing and Zhuo Si for RFA's Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.