The following account is by Chen Yan, a woman living in rural Shandong Province, eastern China. She details how her mother-in-law died under highly suspicious circumstances after getting on the wrong side of a local woman with extensive connections to the communist regime’s police and courts. Ms. Chen’s account provides a close-up glimpse into the bleak reality of law and justice in today’s China.
My name is Chen Yan (陈妍), a resident of Xincheng Village, Feicheng Street, Fei County, Linyi City, Shandong Province, in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). My mother-in-law recently passed away in a suspected homicide. On New Year’s Eve, I was informed by some people that the instructions from the local authorities were to treat the death of my mother-in-law in a dismissive way, hoping it goes away. In other words, a fresh life vanished because of the collusion between the connections and money of the suspect. Her body lies in the morgue of the funeral parlor. Justice seems to have no place in her case.
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In the afternoon of May 10, 2022, local villagers, Fang Huai’ai (房怀爱) and Fang Yu(房雨) got into a dispute. My mother-in-law Ge Shengrong (葛生荣) happened to pass by. She watched a bit and was about to leave and go home when she was stopped by Fang Huai’ai. Because she spoke a few words in protest, it triggered insults, shoving and beating from Fang Huai’ai and her husband Gao Yukun (高玉坤). She suffered bodily injuries. Police were called and arrived on the scene.
After an exam at the hospital, she went to the police station to make a statement, requesting that the abuser be dealt with according to the law.
Since the incident on May 10, 2022, Fang Huai’ai had verbally and physically assaulted my mother-in-law every time she saw her. On May 17, my mother-in-law underwent a judicial medical examination, which showed she suffered multiple minor body injuries.
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The police station conducted four mediation sessions on May 18, June 6, July 12, and August 22, 2022, respectively. Every time, my mother-in-law requested that the perpetrator be dealt with according to the law, but the police station ignored her legitimate and lawful requests, resulting in the mediation being unsuccessful.
On Aug. 22, 2022, the police called my mother-in-law again to the police station for mediation at 7:00 p.m. My husband and I accompanied her, arriving on time, but the mediation didn’t happen until around 9:00 p.m. I wanted to accompany my mother-in-law for the session but was refused. She went into a room alone and came out at 12:00 am midnight.
At 5:00 pm on August 24, villagers found my mother-in-law’s body in the reservoir to the east of the village and called the police. After forensic identification, she was found to have suffered multiple head trauma, and the Fei County Public Security Bureau police found a large amount of blood at the entrance to the home of Fang Huai’ai during the investigation. But they didn’t investigate further nor did they give my family a clear answer. Instead, they hastily concluded it was a suicide, which my families don’t agree nor accept.
After strong requests from our families, we were allowed to see the video recording of the mediation on Aug. 22. In the mediation session, the police director Dong Shuai (董帅) made use of threats, intimidation, and induced confessions, pressuring my mother-in-law to give a false account. Some of the threats were: “If [you refuse to admit you were wrong], you can stay here every day until the matter is finished, since food and drink are provided anyway”; “Think about it! Did you hit Fang Huai’ai? How did you hit her? Did you scratch the face? “; “You are a coward not to admit it”; “If you can’t handle it right this time, you will have to come every day”, etc.
During the entire session, my mother-in-law demanded that the abuser be dealt with according to the law. Her responses included: “I just want him in prison.” “I didn’t hit Huai’ai Fang. I have witnesses.” “Gao Yukun [Fang’s husband] hit me with a stick. I don’t know who blocked off the stick. He kicked me down. I have no way to hit back.” and so on. In the end, my mother-in-law was forced to put down her handprint on the mediation agreement.
Between 11:01 and 11:50 p.m. on Aug. 22, the same person, police director Dong Shuai, mediated with Fang Huai’ai in a conciliatory tone, repeatedly mentioning “your brother.” He also said things like “I have said many times that you should not talk more”; ” If you can’t even hold your tongue, what else can you do?”; “You’ll regret it if you end up in prison”; “You won’t be able to avoid jail”; “According to past experience, the chance of Gao Yukun and Fang Huai’ai being put in prison is 90% or higher”, “For the sake of you two, don’t talk more. Speak more good words”, “What happened on May 10, the time of occurrence, hasn’t been reported to the upper level yet as of Aug. 22” and so on. It can be seen that the director of the police station was exploiting his power for the illegal acts of Fang and Gao, which led to the death of my mother-in-law.
Later, the local (political) leader who is responsible for maintaining stability through letters and visits, talked to me twice, and many others passed me the message a few times, namely, taking some money to settle the matter. The authorities intended to make the incident small and trivial, and dismiss the loss of a fresh human life carelessly.
Some neighbors also told me that the family and relatives of Fang had let out words that they had money, power and connections, that my mother-in-law died for nothing and that the investigation would never have reached Fang and her husband because all the evidence had so far been destroyed by the public security authorities and the government.
Afterwards, many people leaked to me the network of connections of Fang’s family circle. It made me understand where Fang got her confidence and assurance. Some of the connections include:
First, Fang’s son-in-law works with the local government and public security departments, etc. He steals the national mineral resources — river sand — for sale, and then split the money with them. Because of the protection of local authorities, he has made a lot of money over the years. Now, after Fang’s assault and murder of my mother-in-law, he keeps using his “connections” to smooth things over.
Second, Fang’s brother-in-law has a machinery factory with hundreds of millions of dollars in assets. He pays a lot of taxes every year and is very popular among the city and county leaders. So he doesn’t hesitate to spend money and make use of his network of “connections.” After the incident, he has spared no effort to settle the matter.
Third, one of Fang’s nephews works in the court, and also uses his connections to assist the miscarriage of justice.
Fourth, another nephew of hers works in the City Traffic Police Detachment, and he has no shortage of connections.
I sent a letter to report my case to various government bodies including the local county head Wan Mingguo (万明国), and an open letter to both the provincial party secretary of Shandong Province, and the provincial party committee inspection team. I received no response and was heard by no one.
As the Chinese New Year season passes, upon being informed of how the local authorities plan to handle the case, I can’t help wonder who will be responsible for my mother-in-law’s death? Who will bring fairness and justice back to the world?
February 5, 2023 (Day of the Chinese Lantern Festival)