What Did Appellants in Beijing Eat on Chinese New Year's Day?

February 2, 2006 12:00 am Last Updated: February 2, 2006 12:00 am

On January 30, 2006, a group of veteran appellants gathered in front of China's highest court, located in Beijing. These homeless people have no shelter and roam the streets all year round. They are dressed in ragged clothes with disheveled hair and dirty faces. They stand in the sun with hunched shoulders against the bitter cold winter wind, trying to stay warm. Some sleep under temporary shelters, while other lay on plastic mats at night. Every day, some of these people freeze to death on the streets.

The police frequently raid these temporary shelters, tearing them down, throwing away their belongings and arresting these people. This group of homeless appealers in Beijing claim to suffer the most and be the strongest. They are determined and return quickly. The police cannot keep up with them.

On Chinese New Year's Day, the sky was overcast with clouds. In front of Beijing High Court, two appellants helped themselves to some soup from a pot. A witness described the soup as being merely a few vegetable leaves. “Even the water from rinsing rice is more nutritious than what is in the pot,” said one witness.

Chen Shoutian, who has been appealing for over forty years, spent 500 RMB (around US$63)to purchase a bag of peanuts, cakes, and watermelon seeds to share with the other appellants. News that someone was distributing free food spread fast. Soon, many appellants gathered and stood in line to receive the food. They stood in line to receive the food. Some of them wore pants that were torn and some dragged their feet, because their shoes are worn out. Some squatted down beside the road and began to eat right there because they could no longer bear the hunger.

Some among this group of appellants have appealed for several years, but most have appealed for decades. Chen himself has appealed for over 40 years. Chen posted stories about his family tragedy on the Internet. His case has not met with justice nor heard by a judge. Countless homeless appellants consume their assets this way, spending their money and their lives, eventually dying while pleading for justice from the government.

Since the Beijing authorities demolished the appeals office, the homeless appealers have increased at a faster rate. As long as the Chinese Communist Party remains in power, the number of homeless appellants will continue to increase every day.