Skip to content

[Olympics] Mrs Wu and Mrs Wang

Due vecchiette che volevano manifestare a Pechino, sono state condannate a un anno di rieducazione. Qui la loro storia, da una inviata di channel 4.

trying to put myself in the mind of the official from the Beijing
Municipal Government who decided to send 79-year-old Mrs Wu and her
77-year-old neighbour Mrs Wang to the labour camp. Maybe it was
the way they wielded their walking sticks which made him decide they
were "disturbing public order". The two women have
applied five times for permission to protest in the designated
Olympic Protest Zones; when they refused to give up, they were
sentenced to one year’s "re-education through labour". We
found them in the single rooms they were allocated as temporary
accommodation seven years ago.

Candle wax had melted onto the
window ledge – they said the authorities had cut off their
electricity in 2002. Rain dripped through a leak in the roof. Their
complaint is like so many in Beijing. When their homes were
demolished in 2001, they thought the compensation offered was
inadequate so they’ve been protesting ever since.
They told us
they had demonstrated by holding up banners and setting off fireworks
which they carried in a plastic bucket(!). We asked where. Where
the emperor lives – the west gate of Zhongnanhai. Isn’t that the
emperor’s place?" replied Mrs Wu. Zhongnanhai is the where the
Chinese Communist Party leadership is based.
By the time they
applied for an Olympic Protest Zone permit, they had long been
identified as trouble-makers.

of protest application

World Park
Slogan: "Nobody helps the victims of forced
eviction. Government ruling by law comes first, harmonious society
comes after."
Noise-making device: None
of people:
Vehicle used: Taxi
Time: Aug.
10th, 7am-7pm
Date of application: Aug. 5th

the Opening Ceremony, we were held in the police station for a day,"
said Mrs Wu. "They said they wanted to talk to us. They kept us
there all day and didn’t talk to us. They gave us two steamed buns
and a lunch box." Which was fine except that Mrs Wang,
apart from being blind in one eye, has no teeth, so couldn’t chew the
pickled cucumber provided. "I had to eat it for her,"
explained Mrs Wu, and gave out a huge chuckle. It was about this
point in our interview that Mrs Wu spotted someone earwigging outside
the door. The neighbours have been appointed as spies by the
local party officials – it gives a new meaning to the concept of
neighbourhood watch. Suddenly Mrs Wu was up off the bed where she
had been sitting, waving her walking stick. "Come in and talk to
us then!" she shouted. "Come and help me remember what
happened! Stop peeping!" She jabbed her stick through the
doorway. "How annoying!"
The sentence for "re-education
through labour" was delivered on Monday. Or was it Tuesday? They
weren’t quite sure, because neither lady’s memory is quite what it
was. The man wore uniform. Was he from the labour camp?
Or maybe the police?" wondered Mrs Wang. From the
re-education department," said Mrs Wu, sighing. "My brain
is no good anymore." They showed us the document. I
can’t read, but I can see my name," said Mrs Wu, pointing at it.
She asked Mrs Wang if she could read her name. "I can’t see it
all, dear, because of my eyesight."

is the document in part:
Through Labour

by Beijing Municipal People’s Government Management Committee of
Re-education Through Labour.
Illegal activities: From March
to June 2008, administrative detention 5 times for disturbing public
Warning: Once.
Evidence: From March 2008,
she ignored the advice of the police and went many times to
Zhongnanhai and Tiananmen to hold banners and let off fireworks in
order to appeal their relocation issue. They seriously disturbed the
public order of key public areas and were caught by the police. She
admitted to the above facts. "According
to the trial regulations of the re-education through labour Article
10, Items 3, 5, and 14, we hereby decide to send her to labour camp
for one year, [backdated] from July 30, 2008 to July 29, 2009. We
have confiscated the criminal tools. [Author’s note: I think that
must be the plastic bucket of fireworks]
…According to the
relevant rules in the trial regulations, we decide to carry out the
sentence outside the camp. During the sentence term, you must obey
the laws and regulations, and report your activities to the Public
Security Bureau every 3 months… If you break the rules, the outside
the camp sentence will be revoked and you will be sent to the
relevant camp."

won’t, therefore, be sent directly to the gulag, but they have been
told that if they try to protest again they’ll be shipped off
immediately. "I’m not afraid," said Mrs Wu. "If
they hadn’t torn down our homes, this wouldn’t have happened. We’re
just ordinary people. We’re small people. One year! They can give us
three years and I won’t be afraid. I’m almost 80 years old." "I
don’t care," said Mrs Wang. "At least those who break the
law and live in gaol have electric light."


Posted in Pizi Wenxue.