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China: Wen Jiabao's neighbors forcefully evicted

Global Voices Olympics Since his blogging tour by bike through some of the poorest areas in China, veteran Beijing blogger Laohu “Tiger Temple” Miao has over the past two months taken on the part-time job of social worker for a group of homeless and destitute senior citizens living behind a temporary roadside wall just opposite Tiananmen Square, collecting donations and organizing clothing and food drives through his blog, 24 Hours Online, and through this inspiring similar actions [zh] in other cities.

In early January, one younger member of ‘the tribe’ as he calls them, Ai Ding, mysteriously disappeared [zh] the day before Tiger Temple and several of his readers showed up one morning to deliver goods, leaving his makeshift shelter and all possessions behind, and hasn't been heard from since. If anything of Ai's was left following a series of police and chengguan raids throughout January and February [zh], including the heavy winter jacket Tiger Temple left behind despite Ai's absence at the time, hope of getting it back now is gone following yet another raid on February 20 by police and chengguan, which this time seemed intended at getting rid of the elderly dwellers for good. Tiger Temple looks into the situation, makes his second recent appeal for help to a national leader, and outlines plans for more deliveries this weekend in his Feb. 21 post, ‘Premier Wen Jiabao, you really ought to come visit your neighbors’:

晨六时,乘第一班地铁我赶往前门下流民部落,看望昨日下午被公安及城管强行拆毁住宿窝棚的苦难人民群众。

昨日接到流民部落打来电话已是晚上八时后,我在电话里安慰了他们几句,之后一夜难眠,说实话,我们一点别的办法也没有,流民们在最困难的时候想起了我,是我的荣幸,可是我能是救世主吗?我想来想去也只有尽我最大能力给予他们以心灵上的抚慰。

早上的前门依然是灯火辉煌,在那堵著名的“盛世和谐墙”的后面依然是漆黑着。

At 6 this morning I took the first subway train and hurried to the drifter tribe over at Qianmen, to visit that suffering group who just yesterday afternoon had their shanty shelters forcefully demolished by police and chengguan.When I got the call yesterday from the drifter tribe it was already after 8pm; I gave them a few reassuring words over the phone, and then tossed and turned all night. To be honest, there isn't anything we can do for them; that the drifters, in their most difficult moment, thought of me, it's an honor, but I'm not The Saviour. After thinking it over and over, the most I can do is to do everything I can to give them some spiritual solace.

Qianmen in the morning is still brightly lit, but behind that well-noted wall of “prosperity and harmony” it's still pitch black.

我从外围及至内部一一对现场做以查看,直到走近老葛原先窝棚的位置。赶巧,黑暗里老葛正从窝棚里爬出来。我打了声招呼,老葛立刻高兴地应承着向我走来。当我问起“他们呢?”老葛顺手往我脚下一指,“老张还睡着呢。”我疑惑地往我脚下一看,果然见有一人形倦缩在我脚下,外面裹着的是商店里拣来的一块脏灰色化纤地毯,从露头的地方我看见了老张的那一顶标志性的深红色毛线帽。我不禁惊呼一声“这样露天怎么能睡!”

老张、老王、老刘听到了动静一一起身和我打招呼。黑暗里,我见他们就都只穿件薄衣,那些前几天看起来还像模像样的小地窝子今天却都空空如也。还是那样的一格一格,每一格外头用破包装纸箱、塑料片子,甚至有用报纸的代替遮寒的门帘。

流民们七嘴八舌地对我倾诉起他们昨天的遭遇。

From the periphery to the inside, I did a thorough inspection of the site, right up to the spot where Old Ge's shanty used to be. By chance, Old Ge was just crawling out from his shanty in the dark. I called out, and Old Ge happily said he'd be right over. When I asked, ‘and them?,’ Old Ge just pointed towards my feet, ‘Old Zhang's still sleeping.’ Confused, I looked down at my feet, and sure enough I saw the shape of a person curled up at my feet, wrapped in a dirty gray synthetic carpet no doubt picked up from some shop. From the part of him that stuck out I could see Old Zhang's trademark crimson wool hat and I couldn't help but should, “how can you sleep in the open air?!”Old Zhang, Old Wang and Old Liu heard the commotion and one-by-one got up to say hi. In the dark, I could see that they were all only wearing light clothing, and those little nests which just a few days ago still looked presentable enough were now as empty as could be. They're still there in between the concrete barriers, covered with tattered cardboard and sheets of plastic, with newspaper ‘door screens’ to keep out the cold.

The drifters all started talking over each other to tell me all about what they'd been put through the day before.

20下午,公安和城管利用流民们不在家的机会,倾巢出动。他们拆掉了部落里凡是能够拆掉的东西,只留下那个拆不掉的,著名的为迎接市长给前门东路剪彩而临时搭建的“盛世和谐墙”,墙下垒起一座水泥台子,为的是让花儿们露出墙头去给领导们看,后来这个台子下就成了流民们窝居之地。老葛叙述着,几番哽咽,说到自己为保命,多年积蓄下不敢轻易动弹的七百元钱也在昨天的拆迁中被盗。他为此翻了一夜,差点要抛坑去找,几次怀疑是自己眼花,却最终没有能找到。说到此,老葛神情流露着恍惚……老王在此次拆毁行动中也丢失二百元钱,同时丢失了一架复读机,顺便说一下,老王这个残疾人虽是在流浪中,但是始终在学习英语,这架机器的丢失对他来说简直就是要命。北京知青老张(60岁)在此次拆毁行动中丢失了前篇文章中所附视频中大家看到过的那口近乎豪华的硬壳衣箱,在那段录音里,大家还可以听到这个北京人到死也要面子的一句“别看我这样了,我还有一套千元的西服在箱子里呢,你们记者要照相的话,我有行头……”

On the afternoon of the 20th, police and chengguan waited until there would be no drifters in their homes, then moved out in full force. The tore down everything of the tribe's that they could, leaving only the thing they couldn't tear down, this temporary construction, this famous “wall of prosperity and harmony” delivered to Qianmen Rd. East by the mayor with a ribbon-cutting, with a concrete table as base in behind, meant to seat flowers that would poke up from behind the wall, for the leaders to see. Only later the space beneath this table became the nesting place for these drifters. Old Ge tells what happened, between his choked sobs, and how the 700 RMB in emergency money he'd been collecting for years and seldom touched, was stolen yesterday during the demolition. He spent the night searching for it, stopping just short of digging the ground up; he thought several times that it might be his eyes playing tricks on him, but in the end he wasn't able to find it. Having said that, Old Ge gets a faraway look in his eyes……Old Wang also lost 200 RMB in the demolition, as well as a tape recorder. On that, although Old Wang, who is disabled, is here among the drifters, he's been studying English for years, and the loss of this tape recorder is devastating for him. Old Zhang the Beijing ‘zhiqing’ [intellectual youth] (age 60) lost the near-luxury hardcase suitcase we saw in the video attached to the post prior to this. In the recording, we hear this Beijinger who would rather die than lose face say “don't look at me like that, I still have a thousand-RMB suit in my suitcase; if you journalists want to take any pictures, I have an outfit…”

我问到“他们来拆,难道没有留下什么话?比如要求去哪里报到,或者是前往登记处理?”他们回答我说“没有,没有任何留话。直到我们回来才听旁的目击者说起事情经过。”

当夜,这些可怜人儿就聚坐一起,后夜里就只好躲进遮风的地方,一夜未眠。尤其是缺乏照顾自己能力的老张干脆就躺在露天的土地上,身上裹着破地毯睡了一宿。北京的天气虽然逐渐在回升,但是在夜里也仅在零上1、2度左右,我真不知道他们今夜该如何渡过。

因为我还要去上班,临走时留给流民们一百元钱(是网民善款其中部分)叮嘱先解决早餐,周末我会再来送些军用被子或者大衣。没有想到的是,当年已七十的河北葛大爷收到款子时,竟然号啕大哭,老泪纵横,令现场所有人唏嘘不止……

I asked, “when they came to tear [your dwellings] down, did they really just leave without saying anything? Like telling you to go somewhere to report in, or where to register to resolve this?” “No, they didn't say anything. It was only when we came back that we overheard eyewitnesses say what had happened.”That night, these poor people sat with each other, later ducking into a sheltered spot, unable to sleep throughout the night. In particular was Old Zhang, who is unable to care for himself, who just went and laid down on the ground in the open, spending the night wrapped in his ratty carpet. Although Beijing's weather is gradually picking up, it's still only 1 or 2 degrees out at night; I really don't know how they'll get through tonight.

Because I still had to go to work, before I left I gave the drifters a hundred RMB (part of the money netizens have donated), and told them to go get some breakfast first, that I'd be back on the weekend with some army blankets or heavy clothing. What I didn't expect was for 70-year-old Hubei-born Uncle Ge to burst out crying loudly when I gave him the money, tears running across his face, leaving everyone there unable to stop sobbing….

我想再次重申,任何人也没有权利赋予任何人以剥夺他人生活权利的权利!这与市容整顿全然无关,更与奥运无关。倘若打着奥运的旗帜做着这样令人发指的反人类、反同胞的行经,那么全中国人民就是你们的敌人。

温家宝真的该微服私访一下您的邻居了,我可以告诉您地址:出了中南海,左拐,右拐,再左拐,再右拐,20米开外,左手花墙后头便是。我们正在把您03年亲自签署的国家法规印发给流民们,叫他们尽量学习和配合国家,规范自己的活动范围,下面就看公安和城管是否也忠实配合啦!

另讯:今早由前门采访归还,收到天津阎女士昨天快递而来的洗涤用品、柠檬卜夹心饼干、方便面、法式小面包等。其中洗涤用品为原计划流民们集体沐浴所备。另外如有爱心支援者可以直接去送衣服和被褥。目前前门最缺的就是这些。

I'd like to reiterate again, that nobody has the right to give anyone the right to deprive others of the right to live! This has absolutely nothing to do with urban renewal, and even less to do with the Olympics. If you're doing these loathsome, inhumane and anti-compatriot things in the name of the Olympics, then all the people in China are your enemies.Wen Jiabao, you really ought to pay an incognito visit to your neighbors; I can even tell you the address: come out of Zhongnanhai, turn left, then right, then left again, then right again, go down 20 meters, and the lattice wall will be on your left. We are currently distributing to the drifters copies of the law that you yourself signed in 2003, telling them to learn it and fit in with country as best they can, to establish boundaries to their lives, and hope from here on in to see if police and chengguan can also stay true to the law!

Side note: This morning after returning from Qianmen, I received cleaning products, lemon wafers, instant noodles and French buns and other things couriered here by one woman in Tianjin. The cleaning products were sent to allow the drifters to take a collective bath. Others with that much caring support can go themselves to hand out clothes and bedding. At present it's these they lack most down at Qianmen.

Included in the post is an audio recording of Tiger Temple's interview with those behind the Qianmen wall from the morning of February 21:



lhm2.jpg

lhm3.jpg
Sixty year-old Beijing ‘zhiqing’ Old Zhang was forced to sleep out in the cold last night…..


When I left behind the netizen donation, 70 year-old Lao Ge from Shandong started crying on the spot…..


The food Ms. Yan from Tianjin sent arrived in Beijing this morning, among which are cleaning products meant so the drifters can all bathe.

9 comments

  • Joanne

    Thank you for translating and posting this…

    I’m a college student from the US whose taking a trip to Beijing next next week and found this article through danwei. At first, it caught my eye because I was planning to stay in a Qianmen hostel, and reading it, I still don’t quite believe that these seniors are just squatting there, while tourists and other chinese who have no idea of their study continue their sight-seeing. I would be too, if I hadn’t read this. This is quite unbelieveable.

    Can you tell me how I could donate? I think I a slightly used tape recorder for Old Wang. Thanks!

  • Excellent and extremely informative article, as usual. Thank you for your writing. It’s great.

  • thank you for translating this! it’s a real eye opener.

  • Michael G. Dallaire

    Thank you for this eye opening article,

    I am currently writing a paper on urban renewal/urbanization in China, and this man’s sad story offers insight into how the average citizen is being grossly mistreated by the Chinese Government.

    Humanity can be so cold, and at the same time so warm.

  • […] earlier this year blogging the stories of destitute Beijing residents whose makeshift homes were harmonized to make way for the Olympics brings us a post today about a fire yesterday not far from the Olympic […]

  • Philip

    Why doesn’t the United Nations try anything with China if the Chinese government so often violates the UN Declaration of Human Rights?

  • Knights

    Now JK is part of Da-LIE’s group for stirring unrest, formenting separatist activities within the CHinese community. . . . I am looking down on you

    I know Wen JiaBao is famous, so you are buying off some poor guy to ruin his name.

  • chan

    Urban Removal
    It’s the same old story, critics say: displacing blacks to make way for whites
    By Eric Alan Barton
    Published on March 17, 2005

    It is really old story, it happened every where

  • rmutt

    Same type of stuff as happens periodically in France.

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