Chinese Petitioners Celebrate First 'Appeal for Justice Day'
On the eve of December 4, over 200 petitioners from across the China gathered in Beijing for Law Publicity Day. At around 10 a.m. the day before, petitioners held an activity at the outskirts of Gongyi East Bridge to announce the first “Appeal for Justice Day.” Reporters from England, France, Hong Kong, Japan, Germany and Taiwan were there interviewing participants.
Petitioners put up home-made banners at the event. Banners read: “Celebrate the First Appeal for Justice Day,” and “Save the Country, Save the People.”
Ms. Li, who was at the event, said that it was very touching. She described petitioners kneeling under the banners, with their petition materials in hand. Some wailed bitterly, others cried out their grievances, and a few sang sorrowful songs for the people suffering injustice.
“I could not control my tears at this event,” said one person who was present at the gathering. “They have been treated so unjustly. Many of them are elderly or disabled. Many petitioners who have been making appeals for years were once imprisoned, beaten or suffered illegal re-education through labor. I saw many petitioners burst into tears in front of those foreign reporters.”
“As petitioners, we cannot even celebrate the New Year,” explained one participant. “This is a festival for appellants. Although this is a day officials refer to as 'law publicity,' we are appealing to redress a wrong.”
Petitioners invited reporters from both inside and outside the country to a press conference, calling on authorities to immediately release Liu Jie, who had been sent to a forced labor camp for being the contact person for a collective letter signed by over 10,000 petitioners. They also called for the release of other rights defenders who had been detained or sent to forced labor camps for making appeals.
During the event, Beijing national security officers were seen monitoring nearby. As plain-clothed police began video taping the event, petitioners quickly left after completing their planned activities.
“December 4th is the National Law Publicity Day initiated by authorities,” read the petitioners proposal. “Lawyers are able to provide free services for people on this day. Hence, we propose to change this day to 'Appeal for Justice Day' for petitioners, as we, the petitioners, should also have our own festival.”
“We have been bustling about in vain for dozens of years in injustice cases to protect our own legitimate rights and interests. Because the individual voice is too weak, we must act together, take our grievances to the street, voice our burdens to the entire society, and cry out our disputes together so the whole world can hear it.”