New Lawsuit Over Forced Abortion

The move comes just as the authorities forge an out-of-court settlement over a high-profile case.

china-population-park-305.gif Women push babies in prams at a Beijing park, April 5, 2011.

Following a settlement in a forced abortion case that caused global outrage, another woman now plans to sue Chinese authorities over her involuntarily terminated pregnancy.

The husband of Pan Chunyan, a mother who underwent a forced abortion in the southeastern province of Fujian in April, said he had hired Beijing-based lawyers Zhang Kai and Xu Can to represent the couple.

Husband Wu Liangjie said Pan was taken away from her shop on April 2 by local officials in Daji township in Fujian's Xianyou county and locked up in a government building, where she was given an injection that resulted in the stillbirth of her baby on April 8.

He said officials from the couple's hometown had followed him to the capital as he pursued his efforts to seek justice.

"They came here looking for me, but they didn't find me, so they went back," Wu said in an interview on Wednesday. "Now they are calling me every day to meet them for discussions, and they want me to go back there."

"I think they are lying, and that they want to detain me," he said. "That's how I understand it."

Pan's baby would have been the couple's third, exceeding the birth quota of two children to rural couples whose firstborn is a girl.

But Wu said the family had already paid fines of 20,000 yuan (U.S. $3,150), and had promised to pay a further 55,000 yuan (U.S. $8,650) which was demanded by family planning officials at the time.

Zhang confirmed that he was now representing the couple. "It is a very similar situation to that of the forced abortion carried out in Ankang city, Shaanxi province," Zhang said.

Same approach

Wu's move in traveling to Beijing in search of legal representation mirrors the approach of Shaanxi-based father Deng Jiyuan, who recently settled out of court after hiring Zhang to file a lawsuit against the authorities over the forced abortion carried out on his wife, Feng Jianmei, by local family planning officials.

Deng told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the family accepted the settlement of 70,600 yuan (U.S $11,200) because they wanted to return to a normal life.

"It has never been about the money. As ordinary people, we can no longer take the pressure from all sides of the society," he said.

Still, Deng and his family are still worried about persecution at the hands of local officials, in spite of the  compensation deal which was signed earlier this week.

"I'm afraid that certain officials from our township will seek revenge against us, because we have crossed so many people," said Deng, whose posting of gruesome photos of Feng's aborted fetus prompted an online outcry, an official apology, and the sacking of some local officials last month.

"I asked [the senior officials] to guarantee our safety, but they said they were unable to guarantee anyone's safety," he said.

He said local officials would be "re-educated" by higher-level ruling Chinese Communist Party cadres that the couple were not "traitors" for bringing the attention of Chinese netizens and Western media to the forced abortion, from which Feng is still struggling to recover.


Sichuan-based rights activist Huang Qi welcomed the settlement agreed between Deng and the officials, but called on the township government to restrain itself from seeking revenge.

"I hope the local government will take definite measures to guarantee the safety of Feng Jianmei and her husband," Huang said. "Further incidents should be avoided, because they won't benefit either side."

Activists and social commentators say late-term forced abortions are common across China, as family planning officials struggle to stay within draconian birth quotas, exacting huge fines from anyone who exceeds them.

Forced abortions in China have drawn condemnation from the international community in recent weeks.

Last week, the European Parliament passed a resolution strongly condemning forced abortion and involuntary sterilization in China and globally, citing Feng's case.

The resolution "strongly condemns the decision to force Ms. Feng to have an abortion and condemns the practice of forced abortions and sterilizations globally, especially in the context of the one-child policy."

In Washington, the Congressional panel on global health and human rights heard testimony on Feng's case and the practice of late-term, forced abortions in China.

Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women's Rights Without Frontiers, said Feng's case was one of a number that had emerged via online reports on China's microblogging services.

"Officials tried to force Feng into a car, but she escaped to her aunt's house.  They broke through the gate, so she fled to the mountains, where officials found her hiding under a bed," Littlejohn testified.

"After forcibly aborting her baby, officials laid the bloody body of her dead daughter next to her in the bed," she said.

Reported by Hai Nan for RFA's Cantonese service, and by He Ping for the Mandarin service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

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