Ordinary Chinese who pursue complaints against local officials frequently complain of beatings, harassment and extra-judicial detention in "black jails" and "legal study centers." Shanghai evictee Li Yufang was sentenced to a year's imprisonment for "obstruction of official duty" after the family repeatedly tried to claim welfare payments from city authorities after losing their home. She was released from jail on Dec. 18, but still has no job or other means of financial support, she told RFA's Mandarin Service:
I have no income right now. Our home was demolished and we were evicted 13 years ago. I married a Shanghai man, but I am from outside the city. In 2009, I became eligible to apply to transfer my household registration to Shanghai, under the policies of the municipal government.
But they won't even let me have a public registration [for people who are forced to leave their registered address through change of circumstances]. So I can't even apply for welfare, for the basic subsistence payment.
If I get sick, I can't see a doctor, and I can't draw a pension. I can't get a job. I have no source of financial support. We are relying on handouts from friends.
If we go to the neighborhood committee or the district government to try to speak to the leaders there, they immediately dial [the emergency number], and a police car comes and we are dragged into the car and then locked up in the police station.
They are totally abusing their power now, by locking us up illegally. This is illegal detention. They don't process any paperwork whatsoever, and there is no basis for it whatsoever. The law isn't worth the paper it's written on.
'They should support us'
My husband can't work because of his health, and the neighborhood committee won't give him subsistence payments, either.
I am faced with moving house every year, because wherever I go, the district police drive me away again by putting pressure on my landlord. They threaten my landlord, saying "Do you know who this person is? We have a huge file on her at the police department. Do you just let your apartment out to anyone?" Then they yell and swear and thump the table.
Our lives are really very hard. But if the government took away our home, they should support us. That's their duty and their responsibility.
I don't know where it all went wrong.
Reported by Yang Fan for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated by Luisetta Mudie.