Chinese farmers are some of the toughest and most hard-working people in the world. They are like trees, rooted in the land. They live on the land, and die on the land.
Knowing this, it might be easier to understand why Anhui farmer Cheng Jinshan chose such a tragic way to fight for his land and for justice.
Early on Jan. 15, Cheng poured gasoline over himself and ignited it outside the Complaints Bureau, near the municipal government building in Fuyang.
Dozens of staff ran out of the bureau to watch. One man used clothes to beat out the flames, and another sprayed Cheng with a fire extinguisher. A witness said he was taken to the People’s Hospital for treatment, and is in a critical condition with about 70% burns, and severe inhalation burns.
Ironically, just beforehand, the Complaints Bureau had been holding a press conference praising the city’s “Sunshine Petition System.”
The self-immolation news was reported by some official media, like New Beijing News, but soon got censored and deleted on the Internet. Cheng Jinshan was a 60-year-old farmer from Liuzhuang Village, according to NTDTV.
Another peasant named Lee who had also lost his property told the station: “I think he believes immolation can bring attention to the unfair treatment he received from authorities, so as to keep his land. If he didn’t choose such an extreme approach, his family, children, or grandchildren would still be petitioning here in the future.”
This poor old man gave up so much for the sake of his family.