This is a comment people left after a news story. It is a story about petitioning, protest and madhouse. Reading the story, I am almost drowned by a sense of desperation infused in what Mr. Sun has gone through all these years, but also very much touched by Mr. Shi’s courage to expose such a scandal to public. I know, this would be a story worth record, and translation.
In China, it’s a long tradition that people wronged by their hometown officials would trek to Beijing to appeal for justice. It is called petitioning, a mild way of protest. As mild as it is, however, no local government involved would easily let the petitioner go, and interruption, detain, threat are never unusual. And now, a more civilized way is employed, that is, asylum, or, madhouse. That’s where the story started.
Mr. Sun-fawu, 57, got off the car and looked around for his companion he was to meet. Yet no one was there. All in a sudden, a microbus rushed to him and stopped, 3 people coming off and closing him in. One of them was identified as An-shizhi, Sun recalled, who is the director of the Petitioning Office (the official agency handles complaints) in the town.
“what are doing?”
“to find a job in Beijing。”
“Looking for a job? No, you are to petition. You are not let go!”
Two men came up, snatched away the cellphone Sun was to use for police-calling, and pushed him into the microbus.
Sun’s nightmare started. The place he was sent to is exactly the City Asylum, where the mentally disordered stay. The government men left him there.
The shout was heard by many “patients” there, including Mr. Shi, a close friend to Sun later.
The doctor says, “I don’t care whether you are ill. You are sent by the town government, and I’ll treat you as of psychosis.”
What he later went through was that:
During his days there, Zhu has thought to escape, though he claimed time over time again he was normal. He pleaded the dean. But the answer was as cold as the patient room, that “only those sent you here sign an agreement, you are allowed to go”. And a “suggestion” followed, “ask your family to find the government.
But how to? Sun asked himself, with no phone with him.
Sun’s grief dates back to several years ago, when the land in his village sunk so much that it was no more arable due to the thriving mining at the place. Since 1988, the mine owners have compensated the affected villagers for a few times.
According to the criteria, Sun’s family could get over 40 thousand. But as Sun and some other villagers said, over 300 households in the village got no compensation at all.
But the village officials insisted the fund has been distributed. Since 2001, villagers voted Sun as one of their delegates, to complain to the town government. The city inspection group, however, alleged that the fund has indeed been allocated after investigation. The villagers defied, sending more complaints and inquiry of further probe.
Sun didn’t stop. He haunted around town, city, and provincial Petitioning Offices, and even to as far as Beijing. In 2004, he was detained for 14 days, the prosecution being “disrupting social order”. In 2005, he was sentenced to prison, again, but for over 1 year this time.
Then in 2007, a new weapon was put in use. He was put in the asylum.
He stayed there for 3 months, 5 days. Only did he pledged that no more petitioning would he committed was he released.
In 2008, Oct, the story at the beginning of the article happened. This has been his second time to be a “mad man”.
A secret recorder
He used to go to Beijng to complain the negligence of duty of the local government. In 2006, he was sent by Tianbao government (another one) to the same hospital.
He was called to go out later, but he refused. He required an explanation of such a treatment, and holds that if there is none, he would stay.
No explanation was given, and he stayed. In the 2 years 5 months he spent there, he has been collecting evidence about the petitioners contained in the madhouse.
One of his diaries writes:
“some patients kept beating me up, as long as I quarreled with doctors and nurses. After they were gone, the patients would come up and hit me, clutched my neck. They must have been ordered to do so by the doctors.”
This is the end of the news story. It was released by the well-known Beijing-based paper New Beijing on 8, Dec, and very soon, it has caught the attention of the Chinese blogsphere. The comment at the beginning gained as many as 10000 support clicks on 163.com, and what we see is a gloomy picture of a muzzled world by methods as ridiculous as you can expect. How long has this happened? Would this keep on going if it was not revealed? And we have enough reason to doubt how many more remain undiscovered.
And we are more than shocked. The life in madhouse is expected to be so horrible, that every word, every pleading, every complaint you yelled out would be considered a mad word, and no one would trust you. That's why those petitioners are more than admirable.
Or, the entire society has already been such a madhouse? And finally, will we lose our sense of judgment, that we ourselves would doubt “are we mad”? Is this what we are hoped to be?