Thugs strip petitioners of winter clothes

By Zhang Zihan Source:Global Times Published: 2013-1-8 1:13:04

Homeless petitioners sit near the Yongdingmen Long-distance Bus Station in southern Beijing on Monday. Photo: Li Hao/GT
Homeless petitioners sit near the Yongdingmen Long-distance Bus Station in southern Beijing on Monday. Photo: Li Hao/GT

Beijing law enforcers allegedly seized winter clothes and bedrolls donated to homeless petitioners over the weekend, though officers Monday denied any involvement.

Yongdingmen Long-distance Bus Station, a transportation center in southern Beijing, is close to the State Bureau for Letters and Calls, China's top bureau for appeals and complaints. About 20 petitioners, who are homeless or could not afford a hostel room, were sleeping outdoors there.

Dong Yi'an, a 78-year-old petitioner from Dandong, Northeast China's Liaoning Province, came to Beijing in 2004 to protest the "illegal" demolition of his house. He told the Global Times that more than 40 people came on Saturday night, among whom more than half were wearing police uniforms and three or four were in the uniform of chengguan (urban management officers'), while the others were young men in ordinary clothes.

"Those people did not say too much. They came and then started ripping our clothes from us. My coat, my hat and my bedroll were all taken away, but they were not satisfied, as then they opened our luggage and took all the clothes away," said Dong.

According to Dong, police and chengguan did not participate in the looting. "They stood there and ordered the youngsters to take our clothes, as though they were supervising what was going on," said Dong.

These winter supplies were provided by a charity program Street Aid At Hand two weeks ago to help them survive the winter.

Professor Yu Jianrong, the founder of the charity and a prominent social critic, accused the urban management department in Fengtai district via his Sina Weibo account. "It's the Fengtai chengguan who took those clothes away. They should give the clothes back to petitioners," he wrote.

Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau media officer Zi Xiangdong Monday firmly denied Dong's accusation. "It's impossible for Beijing police to take their clothes, and our men would not order people to do these things," Zi told the Global Times.

A media officer from Beijing Urban Management and Law Enforcement Bureau's Fengtai branch also denied the accusation.

"Our staff have never participated in such actions, nor did we ever hear of such things," said the officer.

The temperature in Beijing dropped to -12 C on Saturday.

Dong said he could not endure winter nights without his clothes and bedroll. However, he refused to go to "aid centers" even under such situations.

"Aid centers would only lock me up and send me back to Dandong. So I won't go there," said Dong, adding he used to be illegally detained in his hometown.

Huang Ningjun, a volunteer from the charity program, told the Global Times on Monday that to assist the homeless petitioners, they sent another batch of winter supplies to them on Sunday night, and it was not the first time they had seen such attacks.

"Similar cases have been happening since we launched the program in December 2011. No matter whether it's summer or winter, those people kept coming to loot clothes. Apparently someone organized those actions as people came in numbers, and many even drove cars. To prevent petitioners from freezing, we have to give them clothes again," said Huang.

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