The CCP virus (COVID-19) pandemic has, so far, spread to 184 countries. A number of countries are taking action to hold the Chinese communist regime accountable for covering up the outbreak. Victims in Hubei Province, the epicenter of the pandemic, also wish to sue the government. Yang Zhanqing, a Chinese visiting scholar in the United States who has been paying attention to livelihood issues in China, recently publicized a lawsuit template to help the victim families.
The 14-page template, called Legal Template for Novel Coronavirus Damage Compensation, along with a procedural guide for filing the lawsuit, was prepared by an 18-member attorney group from outside China.
Yang: The victims just need to fill out the template based on their specific situations. Several plaintiffs have completed the form, but they also need to provide additional details such as the names of the hospitals, and the specific symptoms shown before the person died, etc. We have decided to leave out these details for now, and get the cases filed first. They will mail the lawsuit documents. This is because, if they visit a court in person, the court staff will likely reject their suit using any excuse they can come up with. However, if the case is filed by mail, the court has to acknowledge the acceptance of the letter as soon as it is delivered. The court will then feel pressure if it does not accept the case.
Reporter: How many families are doing this now?
Yang: Families of six victims. Two of them completed their own version of the complaint several weeks ago. However, they hesitated to send it after they were written. We are not sure if they were threatened by the authorities or if they have concerns even before being threatened. Therefore, we decided that we should come up with a template to encourage more victims to file a lawsuit. By last weekend, four other families used our template to prepare the document.
Reporter: As long as someone is working on such lawsuits, it will have a positive impact and serve as a role model.
Yang: Right. Actually, the local governments in Hubei Province and Wuhan City are scared of these lawsuits. They will pressure and threaten whoever is taking action to file a lawsuit.
Reporter: When your template is publicized, the plaintiffs may well fill it out and do the next steps themselves. So how are you involved in filing the lawsuits? Do you provide any guidance or assistance?
Yang: They can use our template and file the lawsuit themselves. If the victims’ families get to see our template, they may want to file it on their own, without asking for further help from us.
We provided our contact information in the Guide. If any of them need our help, we would certainly love to help.
My main concern is that many of these victim families will be facing huge pressure. If they do it themselves by going to a court directly, or if they communicate with us on WeChat, which is monitored by the Chinese authorities, their local government will then threaten them not to file the lawsuit. We are making it easier for them to defend their rights by providing the template and guiding them through the process.
Reporter: On one hand, if your group is the point of contact for all these plaintiffs, the Chinese government will make trouble for you. On the other hand, if the plaintiffs each try to do it on their own, they may not succeed.
Yang: Correct. It is impossible for them to get together physically when they are inside China. If we form a WeChat group, the group can be “dispersed” by the Chinese authorities at any time. Anyway, it is very hard to provide legal help to this group of people.
Reporter: You mentioned that one of the plaintiffs, Wu Suqin, was approached by his company leaders.
Yang: He told me that a company leader summoned him, saying that he made a political mistake and that the report Wu prepared was equivalent to attacking the state. Actually, Wu’s statement was two simple paragraphs. He first described his illness and lack of treatment, then attributed the spread of the virus to the fact that ordinary citizens were kept in the dark. That was it. How could they claim this is political in nature?
Yang: In Wu’s case, it also involves a patient’s basic rights to be informed. He sought treatment in a hospital, but was denied access to his medical records and the results of medical exams! As a matter of fact, what the authorities are trying to do is prevent people from presenting these materials in media interviews, or using them to file lawsuits to defend their rights.
Wu told me his company leader threatened him. The leader said, if Wu continues to seek justice from the hospital, he will either be subjected to administrative punishment or the company will refuse to reimburse his medical costs.
Reporter: Have you yourself encountered any pressure or menace from the Chinese government?
Yang: Yes. A close friend of mine, inside China, was summoned by local state security on April 1 and April 18. I asked him what they wanted. He told me he could not reveal details because he was forced to sign a non disclosure agreement. All he can tell me is that the state security staff was targeting me and they asked a lot of questions about me.
The interview was conducted on April 21 by Hong Ning of the Chinese-language Epoch Times.