Video: 77-year-old female kneels down, naked, in front of courthouse to protest land grab
August 30, 2011Jing GaoOne CommentChinese court, forced demolition, forced eviction, justice system, land seizure, Petitioner, protest, protesters, Pudong District, Pudong’s Center for Land Reserve, shanghai, social injustice
On August 18, Zhuang Jinghui, a 77-year-old woman went naked on her knees in order to call Shanghai’s justice system to account for their ineptitude. She wore nothing but a sign in black and white that says, “I want my case to be investigated. Champion the laws. Return the right to sue to me.” Despite repeated clamors for justice from her and her fellow petitioners standing outside the courthouse, no one stood out to answer her needs on the court’s behalf.
In the video, Ms. Zhuang, far off with her back facing the camera, and a dozen petitioners off screen, chanted repeatedly “Yu wang,” or the Shanghai dialect for yuan wang, meaning unjust treatment in Mandarin, and “I want the case(s) to be heard”.
Ms. Zhuang ran a private clinic until it was forcibly demolished. In 2002, she was tricked by the Center for Land Reserve in Shanghai’s Pudong District into signing a carte blanche and ended up getting no compensation at all. In 2004, Ms. Zhuang’s elder sister was seized with a fit of anger over a judge’s insensitive words when the court was intermediating the land dispute, and died soon.
In 2006, Ms. Zhuang went to Beijing several times to protest the unilateral land seizure. To appease her anger, Pudong’s district court ruled, rather reluctantly, that “The case is closed for further appeal or implementation,” leading her to believe that the property would be safe from forced demolition.
Nevertheless, in 2008, Pudong’s Center for Land Reserve disregarded the court rule and tore down the house. As all her multiple petitions were brushed aside, Zhuang had to protest in the nude at the gate of the district government building, before she was finally relocated into a unit. However, the unit has no water, electricity or gas. Nor does its land ownership belong to Zhuang. She could not run her clinic.
At 11 a.m., Zhuang went to the district courthouse to demand her case be heard. Being received by no one, she began to take off her clothes one by one. After she became naked, she and a dozen other petitioners were locked up in a meeting room. Zhuang climbed out through the window and had knelt down in front of the courthouse for about half an hour before finally a few female judges came out, wrapped her in a comforter and carried her into the meeting room.
An officer promised her that the new-come judge would come in the afternoon and accommodate her, and talked her into putting back on all her clothes. Several hours later, the same officer advised her to settle out of court. Previously, a judge of the district court told her that ‘The District Center for Land Reserve is too powerful to be reconciled with.’
Since August 22, four days after her naked protest, Zhuang Jinghui has received great notice from the higher up. She has been kept under strict surveillance.
On the afternoon of August 21, the director and the party boss of the local community office, and the director of the security maintenance went to visit her and tell her, “Don’t be fooled by others. They want to lead you astray to crooked ways.” On August 22, she was escorted by staffers at the office for appeals and petitions wherever she went. She was stopped, and escorted back home when she tries to go to the district court again. She was told “Don’t go to the court this week. The higher-ups are right now reviewing your case,” which she did not buy, as the court has been “reviewing” her case for eight years since she filed it in 2003.
According to Canyu.org, a Chinese human rights advocacy website, Ms. Zhuang’s landline phone number is 021-50265920.