Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that Three Gorges resettlement petitioner Fu Xiancai is gradually recovering his health and limited movement since his surgery to mend vertebrae crushed in an assault on June 8. However, there are serious doubts regarding the fairness of the official investigation into the attack, and Fu’s family members are calling for Zigui County Public Security Bureau head Jia Li to recuse himself from the investigation.
Fu Xiancai suffered a blow to the neck from an unidentified assailant shortly after he was called to the Zigui County Public Security Bureau (PSB) for questioning regarding an interview he had provided to a German television station. Injuries to his vertebrae left Fu paralyzed from his shoulders down, and there are worries that he will never recover the ability to stand or walk.
The attack on Fu was the latest in a string of harassment and threats Fu had suffered over the course of more than a year because of his petitioning on behalf of villagers resettled for the Three Gorges Dam project. Fu had reported the harassment and threats several times to the Zigui PSB, but no action was taken, and indeed, some instances of harassment reportedly involved officers from the Zigui County PSB. In August 2005, Zigui County PSB head Jia Li and more than 20 others intercepted Fu and several other petitioners when they attempted to go to Beijing. Just over a month later, after intercepting Fu and others again on their way to Beijing, Zigui County officials and PSB officers reportedly stood by and watched as a group of village cadres assaulted Fu and the other petitioners.
Despite these allegations, the Zigui County Public Security Bureau, under the direction of Jia Li, has been assigned to investigate the attack on Fu. Sources say three police officers came to Fu’s hospital room on June 17 and interviewed him for five hours about the attack, but did not take any notes. In a bizarre twist, police recently searched Fu’s home and took away a hatchet and some firewood, explaining that it was part of their investigation into the source of the wooden club used to attack Fu.
At the same time, local police have reportedly been conducting 24-hour surveillance on other petitioners, greatly restricting their personal freedom. Local authorities have also prevented villagers from collecting funds to support Fu’s medical expenses.
Sources say that Han Qingzhan and Wan Zhongkui, two officials from Yangguidian Village, Maoping Township, recently visited Fu in the hospital and passed on the message that Fu’s family members should not have accepted interviews from outside media. They also told Fu that the investigation into Fu’s assault was being carried out by the Zigui PSB under the direction of Jia Li, but that there were no leads so far. Sources say Fu and his family have little faith that the Zigui PSB will make any serious effort in the investigation, and they are calling for PSB head Jia Li to withdraw from the case.
In the meantime, Fu has shown some signs of recovery since his surgery. Doctors have reportedly been pessimistic about Fu’s chances for recovery, in particular because a lack of funds prevented him from obtaining his surgery until June 18, more than a week after he was attacked. Ultimately, Fu’s medical fees were covered by the German government, which has taken a strong interest in Fu’s case.
Fu reportedly suffered some reversals immediately after surgery, including intermittent fevers and a pulmonary infection requiring a tracheotomy that left him unable to talk. However, his condition has stabilized since June 22. Sources told HRIC that Fu has recently shown improvement to his vision and hearing, which were greatly impaired by his injuries. In addition, he has regained some feeling and movement in his arms, and is able to eat a bowl of rice porridge each day. However, he still has no feeling below the chest, and his pulmonary and digestive functions remain affected. He is also suffering from muscular atrophy, and remains dependant on feeding and intravenous tubes to maintain adequate nourishment and medication. On June 20, a doctor informed family members of Fu Xiancai that his hospital bills had been paid by the relevant government department.