China’s Human Rights Defenders Find a New Path to Justice

Zhu Ling with her mother in 2006 is a victim of an unsolved 1995 thallium poisoning case in Beijing. A petition to the White House for Zhu Ling’s case gathered over 140,000 signatures in three days. (Screenshot from KanZhongGuo.com)
Zhu Ling with her mother in 2006 is a victim of an unsolved 1995 thallium poisoning case in Beijing. A petition to the White House for Zhu Ling’s case gathered over 140,000 signatures in three days. (Screenshot from KanZhongGuo.com)

Recently, news has spread widely over China’s Internet about “Judge Obama in the White House”. Netizens in Mainland China have taken Zhu Ling’s case abroad – a Tsinghua University student who was poisoned by thallium 19 years ago.

They even requested that Mr Obama send troops to liberate the people in China. This scenario has aroused interest from reporters worldwide. While some say it is the black humour of despaired Chinese petitioners, others believe it is not despair, but awakening, which has led to a new path for China’s human rights defenders.

In accordance with relevant provisions of the United States, as long as a petition lodged on the White House website can gather 100,000 signatures within 30 days, the White House needs to respond. A petition for Zhu Ling’s case gathered over 140,000 signatures in three days.

The move to go abroad, as well as the number of petitioners, has stunned reporters worldwide as it is unprecedented. According to the report by Voice of America on May 6, the France 24 television website broadcast the news.

On May 8, Jiang Xin, a US cable news reporter in China, also sent a lengthy story from Beijing. It gave details of Zhu Ling’s case and the bizarre developments over the past week.

China’s judiciary lacks independence. Many petitioners went to Beijing to appeal, but were detained, arrested and abused. As officials tend to protect their own interests, petitioners are generally retaliated against. Taking the case to courts overseas has become the petitioners’ last resort.

Netizen Mr Zhang from Xinjiang said:

Lan Shu, a political commentator, stated: “Over the last three decades, people in China have changed their method to petition. It has changed from visiting the central office, to the High Court, to the Supreme People’s Procuratorate and now to passing flyers in foreign consular districts. Then it moves to petitioning in Hong Kong, the United Nations and finally to the White House.”

Today, the White House website has received numerous petitions from China’s human rights defenders. Will this be the new path Chinese petitioners take? Lan Shu:

Chinese petitioners’ quest for justice abroad is unprecedented. How will the US react to this? At the moment, it remains unknown. One sure thing is that China’s human rights defenders have made history.

china's human rights defender whitehouse petition

In accordance with relevant provisions of the United States, as long as a petition lodged on the White House website can gather 100,000 signatures within 30 days, the White House needs to respond. Today, the White House website has received numerous petitions from China’s human rights defenders. (Screenshot from petitions.whitehouse.gov)

 

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