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German Intervention Puts Fu Xiancai in Top Hospital – But Villagers Harassed over Investigation

September 18, 2006

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that intervention by the German media has resulted in injured Three Gorges activist Fu Xiancai gaining admittance to one of China’s best rehabilitation hospitals. Meanwhile, local officials are harassing Fu’s friends and family members to prevent further discussion regarding his attack.

An outspoken advocate for villagers displaced for the Three Gorges Dam, Fu Xiancai was struck in the back of the neck by an unknown assailant on June 8 after local police questioned him over an interview with Fu broadcasted by German television station Das Erste in May. Fu was hospitalized after the attack and remains paralyzed from the shoulders down following an operation at the Yichang No. 1 People’s Hospital, which was paid for by the German government.

Although Fu regained some movement in his hands soon after his operation, he has suffered setbacks to his recovery more recently. His confinement to bed and inability to move have resulted in severe pulmonary and intestinal difficulties that prevent him from sleeping, and make him dependent on liquid supplements for nourishment.

Fu’s family members were concerned that the Yichang No. 1 People’s Hospital was not providing adequate care, and had begun to lose hope for Fu’s recovery when the German public once again came to their aid. Fu’s son Fu Bing says that the German media and other concerned individuals have seen to it that Fu will be transferred to a better hospital, and that he will have adequate funds for his continued medical care. Fu Bing says that within a few days, Fu Xiancai will be transferred to Beijing’s ChinaRehabilitationResearchCenter, a state-owned institution affiliated with the China Disabled Persons’ Federation that provides comprehensive rehabilitation and social services to the disabled. (Germany, along with Japan, Canada and Hong Kong, provided significant financial support for the construction of the CRRC, which was opened in 1988.)

At the same time, local officials continue to harass and threaten villagers who question the background of the attack on Fu. Fu Bing, acting on behalf of Fu Xiancai, had in early July mailed a formal request to the relevant authorities for Yigui County Public Security Bureau head Jia Li and other individual officials to be removed from the official investigation into the attack on Fu. Fu and his family members had little confidence in the ability of the Yigui PSB to carry out an independent and objective investigation into the case, given that local PSB officials previously condoned and colluded in harassment against Fu. However, Jia Li refused to withdraw from the case, and in late July local Party and PSB officials informed Fu and his family that the PSB investigation had concluded that Fu’s injuries were self-inflicted.

On August 29, Fu and his family once again petitioned the Yichang Municipal People’s Procuratorate, the Yigui County People’s Procuratorate, the Yichang Municipal PSB and the Yigui County PSB, demanding that Jia Li and other named PSB officials be removed from the case. On September 15, two officials from the Yigui County Procuratorate, Zhang Bing and Qu Dingyuan, told Fu Bing that since the investigation had already been concluded, it was too late to withdraw any officers from the case. On September 17, Fu Bing applied to the HubeiProvince and Yichang Municipal procuratorates demanding an explanation for the Yigui County PSB’s refusal to withdraw the named officers from the investigation.

Sources say that after the investigation into Fu’s case was completed, the Party committees of YangguidianVillage and JiuliVillage held urgent meetings and instructed all Party members to adhere to the findings of the investigation, and to answer any media inquiries with the statement that Fu’s injuries were self-inflicted. In addition, officials reportedly held public meetings at surrounding villages to announce the findings of the official investigation and warn against further discussion of the case.

Sources say that officials have also repeatedly approached and harassed any of Fu’s friends or relatives who maintain that he was deliberately attacked. Some friends have been forced to pay the local PSB 600 yuan per month to cover the cost of surveillance teams that prevent them from leaving the area or talking to the media. The roads in and out of YangguidianVillage are reportedly patrolled by more than a dozen police officers, and any outside journalists that come to the area to report on Fu’s case are trailed by police surveillance teams, preventing villagers from speaking with them.

HRIC welcomes the intervention and generosity of the German media and public to ensure that Fu Xiancai receives the best possible medical treatment for his extensive injuries. At the same time, HRIC urges the local Chinese authorities to fulfill the promise of China’s Foreign Affairs Office to take responsibility for Fu Xiancai’s medical treatment, and to ensure that there is a thorough and independant investigation into the attack on Fu. Threatening villagers and shadowing journalists only serves to highlight the inadequacy of the official investigation. Authorities at the Yichang municipality level or above should take measures to ensure that justice is served through an independent and objective investigation.