Petitioners attempt group suicide in jobs conflict with railway bureau

By Chen Ximeng Source:Global Times Published: 2013-8-15 1:08:01

Twenty-one petitioners from Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province tried to commit group suicide in Beijing on Tuesday after their petition for Harbin Railway Bureau to provide the jobs it had promised for their children fell on deaf ears.

A witness surnamed Li told the media that these petitioners, all wearing the same white T-shirts with the words "Harbin Railway Bureau" printed on their chests, attempted suicide by drinking pesticide near the Beijing West Railway Station on Tuesday morning.

"They lay on the ground after taking the pesticide. They looked in pain. Their vomit was scattered around,"said Li.

The petitioners were escorted by police to the Fuxing Hospital of Capital Medical University and the General Hospital of the Ministry of Water Resources.

All nine petitioners in the Fuxing hospital were released on Tuesday afternoon after treatment, a press officer from the hospital confirmed with the Global Times. It is unknown how many petitioners remain in the General Hospital of the Ministry of Water Resources, as the hospital declined to comment.

The released petitioners have been detained. Han Meiying, one of the pesticide drinkers, told Luo Jingyun, a Beijing-based reporter, that they were transferred to a detention center in the city's Haidian district on Wednesday afternoon and will stay there for at least five days.

Han confirmed to Luo that the Harbin Railway Bureau promised to help the employees' children land jobs inside the railway bureau if the children agreed to serve in the army first. The bureau later broke their promise and ignored them even after they petitioned repeatedly.

According to Luo, there are currently over 200 families of returning veterans from the bureau, many of which, including Han's son, have served two years in the army.

The group suicide attempt shocked many observers, who believe these railroad workers used the act of group suicide as a way to "blackmail" the railroad bureau into giving them whatever they want.

"The reality is that no organization can offer that many jobs, even if they have promised. It's difficult enough for college graduates to finds jobs nowadays. It would only be harder for veterans, who are usually older and demand better pay," Yang Yansui, a professor in social security at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times.

"It's a difficult time for everyone and it is not a problem that can be easily solved. The solution involves major adjustment to social and economic structure," Yang noted.

A policy released by the State Council in 2011 stipulated that the government will help but would not secure job offers for veterans who voluntarily joined the army but served less than 12 years. 

Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau refused to comment and Harbin Railway Bureau could not be reached.

Posted in: Society

blog comments powered by Disqus