Three Gorges Activist Faces Paralysis after Brutal Assault
(June 13, 2006)
Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that Three Gorges resettlement activist Fu Xiancai is being treated for serious injuries following an assault by an unknown assailant.
Sources in China told HRIC that on the morning of June 8, Wang Xiankui, leader of the security squad of the Public Security Bureau in Zigui County, Hubei Province, called Fu in for a discussion about an interview he had recently provided to German public television station Das Erste. While Fu was walking home after the meeting, an unknown person struck him from behind with a heavy object, leaving him unconscious on the side of the road. Approximately half an hour later, a passerby saw Fu and called for emergency assistance. Fu was taken to the hospital, where X-rays determined that his neck had been fractured. Fu is currently paralyzed from his shoulders down and has lost control of all bodily functions except his ability to speak.
Since the local hospital lacked the resources to perform the necessary surgery on Fu, he was transferred to the No. 1 People's Hospital in Yichang City. However, surgery is being postponed because Fu is still suffering from a fever. An additional threat to Fu's recovery is a lack of financial resources, as his family has only been able to scrape together 7,000 yuan out of the estimated 80,000 yuan needed for surgery. According to HRIC's sources, hospital officials have stated that all medical treatment for Fu will be stopped if his family cannot come up with more money.
Sources say authorities have been trying to prevent news of Fu's assault and injuries from getting out. Police officers have been placed on 24-hour watch outside of Fu's hospital room, and only his immediate family members have been allowed to visit him. Someone reported the incident to the German journalist who had interviewed Fu, but when Das Erste's Beijing correspondent arrived at the hospital with a photographer, police barred them from entry.
Sources say Fu was interviewed by Das Erste in May for the program "A Celebration of the Construction of the Three Gorges Dam," which was broadcast on May 20. Sources say that PSB security squad leader Wang Xiankui warned Fu Xiancai that this kind of "oppositionist" interview "would not have good consequences," and that he could easily send Fu off to Reeducation Through Labor at any time. Sources say Wang also warned Fu of possible negative consequences to his family.
Since the 1990s, Fu Xiancai and others who were forcibly resettled for the Three Gorges Dam project have been petitioning provincial and state authorities over the resettlement terms and compensation. In many cases, villagers have not only been resettled on land greatly inferior to that of their original homes, but have also been deprived of the compensation promised to them by corrupt local officials. These cases are so common and well-documented that they constitute a systemic abuse that should be addressed by the central authorities. However, the central government continues to turn a blind eye to abuses against Three Gorges villagers and victims of land grabs throughout China, with the result that rural discontent is increasingly becoming a destabilizing factor nationwide.
Fu Xiancai is one of dozens of villagers who have been harassed, injured or detained over the past 10 years for petitioning and protesting the conditions imposed on those resettled for the Three Gorges Dam project. Over the past year, Fu has come under constant surveillance, and he and his family members have been subjected to chilling harassment, threats, assaults and injuries by mafia elements, but local authorities have failed to apprehend the culprits or provide any protection:
May 14, 2005 – After Fu was interviewed by American newspaper journalists, Wang Xiankui reportedly delivered several threats to Fu and his family, saying that Fu would be severely punished for unlawfully accepting an interview from the foreign press.
May 20, 2005 – Tan Bixuan, another representative of Three Gorges villagers, received an anonymous phone call telling him to instruct Fu to gather up a large sum of money, or Fu's son would be killed. Fu notified the Yichang City police, but there was no apparent follow-up to initial police inquiries.
September 20, 2005 – When Fu and some other petitioners were en route to Beijing to petition the central authorities, they were assaulted by village officials while local police stood by and did not intervene. Sources say that one police official at the scene threatened Fu with more serious injury if he did not stop his activities.
October 22, 2005 – Around 3:00 a.m., someone drove a vehicle in front of Fu's home and threw rocks at the house, breaking a window. Later that morning, Fu departed on a petitioning trip to Beijing. Upon returning home on the afternoon of October 26, two thugs burst into his home, beat him with wooden poles and fractured his leg. Though Fu reported the incident to the police, no one was apprehended.
November 7, 2005 – Around 9:00 p.m., Du Erhu, the deputy head of the Maoping Township PSB dispatch station, came with another police officer to Fu's home and reportedly told Fu that he if he went petitioning or left his home, his life would be in danger. On November 8, while out on an errand, Fu was assaulted at the Sandouping Ferry Pier by three thugs wielding police batons. He required three stitches to a wound on his head. A report filed with police yielded no results.
November 17, 2005 – During the night, someone placed funeral wreaths outside Fu's home, after which Fu received several threatening anonymous phone calls. Fu provided the phone numbers of two callers to the police, but there were no arrests.
January 15 and 18, 2006 – In the early hours of both mornings, a car drove up to Fu's home, and someone pelted stones at his house. When Fu reported the incidents to the Maoping Township PSB dispatch station on January 20, deputy station head Du Erhu reportedly said to him, "If you continue with your lawsuit, your family will never have peace and will be constantly harassed. I don't believe that if we arrest you, the American devils will invade China." The next night, someone left a stack of fake money used in funeral offerings in front of Fu's door.
HRIC condemns this brutal assault on Fu Xiancai that has left him critically injured and potentially paralyzed. As a result of his legitimate petitioning activities, Fu has been made a target of a chilling pattern of harassment, assault, death threats and abuse by individuals who have been clearly allowed to act with impunity. HRIC calls on the Hubei provincial government to launch a full and transparent investigation into these crimes against Fu Xiancai and uphold its responsibility to investigate and prosecute crimes against its citizens. HRIC also urges authorities to address the problem of systemic abuse in local development and resettlement projects.
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