After having been stripped over ten years time of hope that China’s courts might redress the wrongs done to her, a woman decided to use her body in a desperate attempt to tell the public what she had suffered.
A naked woman with pieces of white cloth hanging off of her shoulders down to her mid-calf in front and behind stood on a garbage bin outside the Supreme Court in Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou Province in south-central China, on Monday, Nov. 14. Black characters written on the cloth tell her story.
In a short (two minutes, 36 seconds, embedded below) video of her protest, she stands stiffly straight with her arms down her sides. With a sad look on her face she talks continuously to the crowd that has gathered around her on the sidewalk. The crowd is dressed in sweaters and jackets, as fits a gray and blustery November day. Behind her, on a busy street traffic streams past.
The video is credited to someone named Shanzaijizhe and was posted on the Chinese microblog Weibo, with the following comments: “A woman wearing only a piece of cloth with ’10 years of mistreatment’ written on it stood outside the Supreme Court building, while continuously talking to the bystanders. It was very cold. She was naked. Her lips were purple. Her naked body was red. She is suffering! She makes my heart hurt!”
The comments conclude, “The lady was taken away by police after a few minutes.”
Click the ‘play’ button below to play the video:
‘Calling a Stag a Horse’
The unnamed woman in Guiyang was apparently protesting the forced demolition or expropriation of her home and the failure of the court system to help her.
Reading the characters on the white cloth is difficult, but, in addition to “ten years of mistreatment,” the following lines can be made out: “forcefully ‘Calling a stag a horse'”; “changing a residential house into a commercial house”; “not using facts as evidence”; and “how can the law be mentioned?”
“Calling a stag a horse” is an idiom taken from a story about a tyrannical Chinese emperor. Upon being given a deer as a present, the emperor announced it was a horse. Any courtier who correctly insisted it was a deer was executed. The saying is taken to mean that black is called white and has the additional suggestion of tyranny changing the meaning of things.
“Changing a residential house” appears to refer to the loss of a home, and the other two lines refer to failures of the judicial system.
While the details of her story are not fully known, the woman’s desperation comes through vividly on the video, which went viral on China’s Internet and inspired much comment.
New Tang Dynasty TV (NTD) interviewed Li Renke, an independent candidate in Guizhou Province and a rights activist. Li said, “[Her protest] pin-pointed the court, that is, she pin-pointed China’s legal system. From the action she took, we can see that she has been forced to take such an extreme action, and she can give up anything.
“To be honest, if a human being’s dignity can be abandoned, that must be the result of long term suppression by this government.”
Wang Binru from Chengdu, Sichuan Province is also a petitioner seeking the redress of wrongs. She told NTD about the woman in the video, “There are just so many trumped-up cases in China. Law has become the tool of the regime to suppress people, and ordinary people are really helpless.”
On the internet the netizen Le Pensong posted a message saying, “I feel so sad for such a girl who must be in a dire situation. I am now in Guiyang, and I feel cold even wearing leather clothing. This society has become like this. Do cherish yourself, girl!”
A netizen called Micaiyanyang wrote, “Because of the deeds of corrupt officials, the Chinese people have to use such a sad method to safeguard their rights, and express their anger at being suppressed and being deprived of their property.”
This video is the latest of several reports telling how Chinese women have humiliated themselves by stripping naked in order to show their anger at the communist authorities, often in connection with forced demolitions.
Since the late 1990s local authorities in China have confiscated land and houses for use in development, frequently giving the owners only pennies on the dollar in compensation, if that. The economist Cheng Xiaoneng told Sound of Hope radio that 50 to 60 percent of the budgets of local governments derive from the forced seizure of land and houses.
Such forced demolitions are a massive social problem in China. According to Cheng, they are the greatest cause of what the Chinese regime calls “mass incidents”—protests, often violent, involving thousands of people at a time.
According to a Sept. 7 report by Southern Metropolis, a naked woman in Liupanshui County in Guizhou Province ran to the streets protesting the forced demolition of her home, causing a traffic jam on the afternoon of Sept. 1.
According to family members of the woman, she had been protesting at the site of her demolished home. Police took her to the station and stripped her naked, thinking she would then not escape. But she did escape and ran back to the rubble that had been her home.
Because a large number of people were now watching her, the officers felt this was threatening to become a serious situation. They knocked her unconscious and took her away.
In Shanghai on Aug. 18, a 77-year-old doctor name Zhuang Jinghui knelt down before Pudong New District Court House carrying a sign that said “I want to bring a lawsuit to protect the law; I want my legal rights returned.” She was naked.
Zhuang used to own a two-story building in Pudong New District. In 2002, her building was demolished. The Land Reservation Center of the District had deceived the old lady into signing a contract, which made her lose all claims to compensation.
For 9 years Zhuang had appealed. Multiple agencies kept on pointing fingers at each other, and the court refused to accept her suit.
On May 20, 2010, in Zhangqiu City in Shandong Province, Li Yudong witnessed his million yuan plus (US$157,000) building turned into rubble in minutes. He instantly became insane, stripped himself naked, ran screaming in the rain, and then knelt down in front of cars.