A bankrupt Yilishen ant farmer killed herself by jumping off her apartment building in China’s northeastern city of Fushun on January 9, leaving behind her 13-year-old son and elderly mother.
The woman, who was known by her Internet name Sister Blood and Tears, jumped off from her home on the third floor of the building at around 5 p.m. that day without leaving any message, said some ant farmers who later visited her family.
The dead ant farmer and her families invested over one million yuan (US$ 146,200) on Yilishen Tianxi Group, purchasing and raising boxes of ants from the company for a promised high profit. After the company was exposed as a ponzi scheme in 2007, Sister Blood and Tears appealed and protested to local authorities but obtained no help. The desperate woman had had two unsuccessful suicide attempts since then.
Sister Blood and Tears was only one of the 1.3 million frustrated investors, and far from the first ant farmer who committed suicide. Ant farmers blamed the authorities for first helping the company’s fraud and then manipulating the company into bankruptcy and not compensating the deceived farmers, many of whom had lost their life savings to the company. Farmers said their protests had been cruelly suppressed.
“The government pushed Sister Blood and Tears to death,” said an elderly ant farmer. “They are ruining all of us ant farmers. We have no way out.” He also said the ant farmers are under the authorities’ surveillance. When Sister Blood and Tears was hospitalized after her first suicide attempt, the authorities sent officials and police to blockade the hospital to prevent information from going out, the ant farmer said.
After her death, Sister Blood and Tears’ family informed some other ant farmers who then spread the news to many more. Some local ant farmers plan to hold a ceremony to commemorate the dead.
Background of Yilishen Fraud
Yilishen Tianxi Group is a Chinese company established in 1999 that sold traditional Chinese medicine products made from ants. The company induced investors, mostly unemployed factory workers and peasants, to buy and feed boxes of ants and sell back to the company for a profit of 30 to 60 percent. Though the investment model is illegal in China, the company obtained license as well as heavy media support from Chinese authorities, and were issues multiple rewards from Shenyang City government.
In November 2007 the Liaoning provincial government announced the bankruptcy of Yilishen. The company’s head Wang Fengyou were arrested and are now still in detention.
Read original Chinese article.