The endless tide of petitioners seeking help in Beijing is a reflection of serious social problems in China which have intensified to the point of a crisis, Chinese dissident Hu Chunlin (胡春林) said in Taipei yesterday.
Hu, known by his pen-name Ren Bumei (
In his speech titled "Analysis of the Tide of Complaints Appeals in China," Hu gave his perspective on the Visitor Appeal System. This is the system under which ordinary Chinese can seek appeal to the highest authorities for remedy or retrial for what they feel are unjust or erroneous judgments.
"It is estimated that there are now about 200,000 appellant visitors in Beijing, herded into so-called visiting appellant villages. Often, 10 to 20 people lived in a 10 square meter place, covered with dirty quilts, surrounded by food odors, and using their chopsticks to pick out other people's leftover meals from the garbage," he said.
Hu was invited by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy (TFD), a government-affiliated institution, to attend yesterday's seminar on human-rights issues in China.
A documentary recording appellant visitors gathering for their New Year's supper in 2003 was shown during the seminar.
In the film, one old woman said that she had been in Beijing seeking appeal for 37 years.
"I had never said anything bad to the government. All I wanted from the government is justice for me and my family," she said.
Hu said the woman's experience was not unusual: "An official investigation conducted in 2004 showed that only 0.2 percent of the appellant visitors had their problems solved through the appeal system."
Hu said the rapid increase in the number of appellants in recent years was closely tied to China's economic development.
"The appellant visitors are workers laid off from state-run businesses, farmers whose land has been confiscated and victims of environmental damage," he said.
"They have paid a high price for China's economic development," he said.