Waiting for justice - a farmer′s battle | Asia| An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 04.02.2013
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Waiting for justice - a farmer's battle

After being paralyzed in a brutal attack in 2006, Fu Xiancai, a farmer in central China and an advocate of the rights of expropriated farmers, continues his fight for justice.

Winters along the Yangtze River are cold and wet. Yangguidian, the home village of farmer Fu Xiancai, is located on the river in central Hubei province. He sits with his family around a simple fireplace at home. The coals glow red, but it is still very cold.

Fu is in a wheelchair and is wrapped in a thick, green army coat. He is wearing a black woolen beanie.

"I can move my head and my shoulders. But I can't move my fingers. I need help eating and drinking. I cannot stand up. I cannot move my legs," he says.

The entire family - his wife and two sons - helps out taking care of Fu. He has to be turned over in bed at night. He is often in pain. And he often has a fever. But he refuses to let that get him down.

"My greatest wish is that my case will be solved. I was attacked for uncovering corruption. Someone tried to kill me. I want to know what exactly happened. It would mean a lot in the fight against corruption if the authorities could find out who attacked me."

Dangerous campaign

Fu Xiancai, a land rights activist, prior to surgery at the No. 1 People's Hospital in Yichang, central China's Hubei province, Friday, June 16, 2006. (AP Photo)

Fu believes he was badly beaten because he spoke out against corruption

Fu Xiancai made headlines around the world six years ago after being savagely beaten. For years, he had campaigned for the thousands of farmers living along the Yangtze River who had been forced to leave their homes for the construction of the giant Three Gorges Dam.

A lot of the money which had been allocated to the relocated residents ended up in the pockets of corrupt politicians. Fu protested against this and became a thorn in the side of local authorities. He believes that is why he was beaten within an inch of his life right after giving an interview with the German public television broadcaster ARD. The authorities, on their part, maintain that Fu simply fell down.

But, Fu is sticking to his version of the story.

"I continue to submit reports to the Ministry of Public Security, the party's Central Disciplinary Commission - the country's top prosecuting authorities. I am trying to get the top ministries to order local authorities to open up a case. But so far, they have failed to do so."

Fu is fighting an up-hill battle. The local party leader, whom he believes is one of the main culprits in the attack, has long since been transfered to another area and promoted. His successor doesn't want to have anything to do with old cases.

International aid money, a lot of which in 2006 came from Germany, has been used up. Today, the family relies on welfare and donations from the local foundations for the disabled. The Fus make ends meet, but he says no amount of money will ever be able to make up for the injustice that was done to him.

Hope in new leadership

Aerial view of the Three Gorges Dam in Yichang, central China's Hubei Province. (AP Photo / Xinhua, Du Huaju)

The Three Gorges Dam project displaced over a million people

"I am disappointed. All of my hopes are on the new party leader in Beijing, Xi Jinping, who declared war on corruption. He is an honest man. We might see change in the next three to five years. If nothing changes by then, then my hope will all have been in vain."

Fu's wife cooks dinner in the open veranda in the kitchen. She says life is difficult and taking care of her husband costs her all the energy she has.

The damp cold blows through the rooms. Like most rural homes, Fu's house is spartan. There is hardly any furniture covering the concrete floor.

Fu says the campaign for the farmers along the Yangtze has died down. He says hardly anyone is interested that damages for around 100,000 displaced farmers were stolen by corrupt officials. Yet Fu perseveres and continues to write letters to top authorities in the hope that one of them will eventually be answered.

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