A televised insult of soldiers was the catalyst for a gathering of nearly 100 veterans at the train station of Changsha, capital city of Hunan Province, at 4 p.m. local time on June 11.
It was the first large-scale gathering of veterans after the loosening of restrictions for the pandemic in China.
This gathering was in response to economist Wang Fuzhong’s recent comment in a show: “The soldiers’ fight against the enemy in the rain of bullets is just for vanity.” To protest against the remarks, Changsha veterans decided to appeal to Beijing.
In a notice issued by the Changsha Veteran Home on June 10, veterans were invited to gather outside the train station and depart for Beijing. Veterans were recommended to wear their uniforms.
In one day, nearly 100 veterans gathered outside Changsha train station. Video showed police were also present.
Veteran Lin Yi (an alias) told The Epoch Times, the plan was interrupted because of the police.
He mentioned that their activity has gained many online signatures and support from veterans in other provinces of China.
Ongoing Veteran Dissatisfaction With the Government
Although their actions were nominally to protest against Wang Fuzhong’s remarks, the underlying reason is because these veterans are dissatisfied with the government on several counts. After demobilization, various benefits payments were stolen or reduced one after another. Life has turned bitter for the veterans. In the past two years, protests by veterans have taken place one after another in China.
Mistreatment of veterans is frequent news in China. On Dec. 31, 2019, a veteran in Shanxi Province committed suicide because years of petition had simply gone in vain. This May, another conflict erupted when a veteran asked for a half-price discount on transportation with a military disabled certificate. He was told to quit living if he can’t afford to live.
Lin Yi explained that what concerns the veterans is identity. “The authorities’ lack of response has pushed the veterans to act together,” said Lin Yi.
A Time of Injustice
Lin Yi indicated that this is a time of injustice, and veterans ought to demonstrate their characteristic bravery.
He mentioned that the veteran protest in 2017 forced Beijing to establish the Ministry of Veterans Affairs. However, the regime has continually suppressed veterans who speak out.
“This injustice was caused by the system. Without fundamental advancement and reform, the veteran’s problems could be the last straw,” added Lin Yi.
He said, “This is not about defending rights. It is about justice. We fight for honor.”
The number of retired military personnel has reached 57 million in China as of 2018, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs. The number increases at a rate of hundreds of thousands per year.