'An Enormous Injustice'

A Chinese petitioner tells why she continues to protest against the 're-education through labor' system that changed her life.

2012.09.21
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china-petitioners-merkel-305 Petitioners in Beijing call on the government to end the re-education through labor system, Aug. 30, 2012.
Photo courtesy of a petitioner

Hunan petitioner and former labor camp inmate Wang Guangyu speaks about her experience of fruitless years in pursuit of a complaint against her forced eviction from her home and her fierce opposition to the "re-education through labor" system of administrative punishment without trial:

Re-education through labor is an enormous injustice that is perpetrated on petitioners.... After I was sentenced to re-education through labor this had an impact on our kids and on our elderly parents. Some people don't really understand the plight of petitioners, and there's a sense of discrimination.

My son basically refuses to acknowledge me now. My mother recently died, just this year, so it doesn't make much difference if I go back home or not.

I have had no response [to my complaint] within 60 or even 170 working days. From the point of view of ordinary people like us, it's not so much a case of feeling let down, as of being in despair.

After I came out of my first labor camp sentence in 2010, I made a banner to protest about the whole re-education through labor system to China's highest leaders.

The way the legal system works these days, the officials are allowed to light fires, but ordinary people aren't even allowed to switch on the light. There has been no improvement to speak of. For example, on the legacy of problems left over by forced evictions, they haven't even managed to stick to their promises.

I have no home to go to. I live in extreme hardship. I haven't been able to take my medication for several months now. I have high blood pressure, heart disease, and my feet swell up every time I make the trip to Beijing.

Reported by Wen Yuqing for RFA's Cantonese service. Translated by Luisetta Mudie.

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