'I Didn't Expect The Rule of Law to Actually Work'

2016-09-23
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A woman carries water drawn from a well in a southern Chinese village in a file photo.
A woman carries water drawn from a well in a southern Chinese village in a file photo.
AFP

A rural woman in eastern China has won a landmark legal case after being deprived of her land rights after marriage, she told RFA.

Ye Xueqing, of Xiaowuxi village near Yiwu city in Zhejiang province, filed the lawsuit after complaints to the municipal government over the deprivation of her land rights by officials in the village she married into yielded no result.

Ye began complaining via official channels in 2013 after finding she had been frozen out of a number of economic benefits including the right to a share of compensation for village land taken over by the government, resettlement payments, and land use rights.

She then filed a lawsuit with the Jinhua Intermediate People's Court, which found in her favor last week and ordered city officials to investigate.

"I didn't expect the rule of law to actually work," Ye told RFA in a recent interview. "In the past, all I found was officials protecting each other's backs, and it was very hard to get anywhere."

"I'm actually pretty surprised by this decision. I have waited so long to get this result," she said.

But Ye said she is also skeptical that the government will implement the court's order in good faith.

"I don't know what their next move will be. I have a court order now, but we'll have to wait and see if they actually implement and start an investigation," she said.

Not the only one

Ye said she isn't the only person affected. She estimates that around 1,200 women in and around Fotang township, which administers Xiaowuxi village, have faced similar violations of their property rights.

"I took the decision to do this on my own," said Ye, who started out with more women at her side.

"Some of them weren't happy with the fact that we were taking the government to court, and some thought it was all taking too long," she said.

"They did have their rights violated, but they didn't choose to fight for them," Ye said.

"Me, I wouldn't let it slide. I had to fight for my rights to the bitter end," she said.

Ye said she had stuck to the letter of the law while making her complaints, and believes that this is why she hasn't been targeted for persecution by local officials—yet.

But she did get a phone call from local officials when she chose to pursue her complaint in Beijing during the National People's Congress (NPC) annual meetings in March, she said.

An official who answered the phone at the Yiwu municipal government propaganda department declined to comment when contacted by RFA.

"I don't really know about this," the official said.

Reported by Lee Lai for RFA's Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.


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