Villagers’ Petition Changing History’s Course

May 27, 2012 Updated: October 1, 2015

The petition by 300 hundred villagers from Zhouguantun Village, Botou City, Hebei Province calling for the release of Falun Gong practitioner Wang Xiaodong has shaken up China’s top leadership circle. The Epoch Times has learned that the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection submitted a document to the 24-member Central Politburo about the incident, and several Standing Committee members were shocked after reading it.

It Will Change History’s Course

petition by 300 hundred villagers from Zhoutun Village
Two pages of the petition (L) signed by 300 hundred households from Zhouguantun Village, Botou City, Hebei Province calling for the release of Falun Gong practitioner Wang Xiaodong. (The Epoch Times)

A source close to the top leadership told The Epoch Times that several top Party authorities think this incident will change history’s course, as in the story of Xiaogang Village during the Deng Xiaoping era.

In 1978, 18 villagers in Xiaogang in east Anhui Province risked their lives to sign a secret agreement that divided their People’s Commune-owned farmland into pieces for each family to cultivate. Their pact is widely regarded as the beginning of the period of rapid economic growth and industrialization that China has experienced in the thirty years since. The historic document with the villagers’ red thumbprints is on display in the National Museum of China. The Zhouguantun Village petitioners also used red wax to mark their thumbprints.

The source said many top Party leaders, including Xi Jinping (presumptive next Party leader), Li Keqiang (vice premier) and Zhu Rongji (former premier), are talking about the petition, and some of the top leaders expressed that they would like to resolve it.

Wang was a well-liked teacher in the village. His home was ransacked and he was charged with producing and distributing compact disks containing information exposing the persecution of Falun Gong. The peaceful meditation practice also known as Falun Dafa, has been maligned by the Communist Party since it began its campaign against the group in 1999. Villagers who signed the petition to release Wang were harassed and intimidated by security forces. They were pressured to retract their statements.

According to an internationally acclaimed intellectual who gave an interview to The Epoch Times on May 25 under the alias of Qin Ming (for safety), a number of Beijing intellectuals are discussing writing a joint letter asking the Party Central to resolve the Falun Gong issue and to confer constitutional protection to Falun Gong.

Qin said the significance of the petition is it offers an opportunity to solve the Falun Gong issue before the upcoming 18th National Congress. If action is not taken, they would still persist, Qin said.

Cases of people standing up to protect Falun Gong practitioners have become increasingly frequent in China.

In late 2011, 40 villagers in the Chaoyang area of Liaoning Province signed a petition requesting the release of fellow villager Zhang Guoxiang, a Falun Gong practitioner who was illegally detained by local authorities for his beliefs.

In September 2011, around 2,300 villagers in Changli County, Qinghuandao City, Hebei Province signed a petition to demand the release from jail of a Falun Gong practitioner named Zhou Xiangyang.

On March 27, five attorneys vigorously defended four Falun Gong practitioners in the Acheng District Court in Harbin City in Heilongjiang Province, with all four practitioners entering pleas of not guilty. The attorneys argued that the citizens of China have a constitutional right to religious freedom.

According to one of the attorneys Dong Qianyong, many law enforcement agents have become reluctant to persecute Falun Gong practitioners since Chongqing Public Security Bureau chief Wang Lijun was ousted from his position after his failed defection attempt at the U.S. Consulate on Feb. 6.

He told The Epoch Times that the situation is improving in China. “Many people have been making efforts to change the situation, not only attorneys, but also police,” he said.

Hu Jun, the director of Human Rights Campaign in China, told The Epoch Times, the petition of 300 villagers has demonstrated that Falun Gong practitioners have awakened many Chinese and inspired them to take action.

Political commentator Cao Changqing said the Zhouguantun Village petition demonstrates that things are changing in China—people are daring to speak out and demand justice.

On May 15, The Epoch Times called the Fuzhen Township’s office, which oversees Zhouguantun Village, but the person who answered the phone was not forthcoming. The Epoch Times called the office again on May 25. This time the person who answered the phone said Wang Xiaodong was still in custody, but added that the township authorities are reconsidering the villagers’ petition.

Read the original Chinese article.

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