Burmese women trafficked into sexual slavery in China

By Nicola Smith, Asia correspondent                                                  March 21 2019

Young Burmese women are being trafficked to China as ‘brides’ then locked in rooms and raped until they become pregnant, says a chilling new report by Human Rights Watch released on Thursday.

The 112-page report, “Give Us a Baby and We’ll Let You Go,” reveals that vulnerable young women from Burma’s conflict-ridden northern Kachin and Shan states are being tricked into forced marriages in China where the earlier “one-child policy” and preference for sons has created a huge gender gap.

“Myanmar and Chinese authorities are looking away while unscrupulous traffickers are selling Kachin women and girls into captivity and unspeakable abuse,” said Heather Barr, acting women’s rights co-director at Human Rights Watch and author of the report.

The report is based primarily on interviews with 37 trafficking survivors, as well as with 3 families of victims, Myanmar government officials and police, and members of local groups, among others.

It concludes that hundreds of women and girls, some under the age of 18 and many of them living in desperate conditions in Burmese refugee camps, are being sold every year to Chinese families for sums of $3,000 to $13,000.

“Most of the women and girls we interviewed were locked in a room for days or weeks or months, sometimes until they became pregnant,” said Ms Barr.

“Many said that the families seem more interested in having a baby than a bride. Some were able to escape after they’d had a child, or were even told they could leave if they wanted.”

The 37 women and girls interviewed had all escaped back to Burma, but some are held as sex slaves for years. Others face the cruel dilemma of being forced to leave their child behind if they want to return home to their families.

In one shocking case detailed in the investigation, a young woman of 16 was deceived by her own sister-in-law who had promised her a well-paid job in China to help support their impoverished family.

Many of the trafficked women live in desperate conditions in camps

During the journey to her new position she was drugged, waking up to find that her hands were tied. Her sister-in-law told her she had to get married and left her at her buyer’s home.

“The family took me to a room. In that room I was tied up again. … They locked the door – for one or two months. When it was time for meals, they sent meals in. I was crying…Each time when the Chinese man brought me meals, he raped me,” she recounted.

She eventually had a son, and two years later, she escaped. Fortunately, and unusually, she did not have to leave her child behind.

The dire predicament of the trafficked brides has been enabled by a long-running conflict between the Burmese government and the Kachin Independence Army and other ethnic armed groups in Kachin and northern Shan State, on the border with China.

In 2011, the military renewed attacks against the ethnic armed groups, ending a 17-year ceasefire. This has led to over 100,000 displaced Kachin and other minorities living in camps.

Humanitarian aid to the camps has largely been blocked by the Burmese authorities, and women are often the sole breadwinners, with men taking part in the conflict.

Some families deal with the shortage of marriageable women by buying trafficked women or girls. While it is difficult to estimate the total number of women and girls being trafficked as brides to China, the Myanmar government reported 226 cases in 2017.

However, experts on the issue told Human Rights Watch they consider the actual figure is most likely a great deal higher.
“The dearth of livelihoods and basic rights protections have made these women easy prey for traffickers, who have little reason to fear law enforcement on either side of the border,” said Ms Barr.

Meanwhile, in China, the “one-child policy” in place from 1979 to 2015, and the widespread practice of sex-selective abortion has led to an increasing gender gap among men and women aged 15 to 29.

Faced with 30 to 40 million “missing women” Chinese families are turning to desperate measures to find wives and produce heirs.

Trafficking is illegal in both countries and some efforts have been made to stop it. However, HRW found that families seeking help were often turned away by the police and women who escaped were sometimes jailed by the Chinese authorities for immigration violations.

“The Myanmar and Chinese governments, as well as the Kachin Independence Organisation, should be doing much more to prevent trafficking, recover and assist victims, and prosecute traffickers,” Ms Barr said.

“Donors and international organisations should support the local groups that are doing the hard work that governments won’t to rescue trafficked women and girls and help them recover.”


Mourning Our Families and Compatriots Killed in the June Fourth Massacre: A Letter to China’s Leaders

We are a group of citizens who lost our loved ones in the June Fourth Massacre.

Thirty years ago, along Chang’an Avenue in front of the Tiananmen Gate in the Chinese capital of Beijing and in the city’s central thoroughfare, fully armed martial law troops used machine guns, tanks, and even dumdum bullets—which had been banned by the international community—to massacre unsuspecting and unarmed young students and citizens who were petitioning peacefully. The bloody carnage claimed thousands of vibrant lives and hurled thousands of families into an abyss of despair.

The massacre took place under the glare of the whole world. For years, many streets and alleys of Beijing were riddled with bullet holes and stained with blood. Thirty years later, while the criminal evidence has been covered up by the facade of “prosperity” made up of towering buildings and clustering overpasses, the hard facts of the massacre are etched into history. No one can erase it; no power, however mighty, can alter it; and no words or tongues, however clever, can deny it.

During the Great Famine of the 1950s and 60s, in which tens of millions of our compatriots starved to death, former Chinese President Liu Shaoqi warned Mao Zedong, “People are eating people—it will be written in books.” Considering this, we can’t help but wonder: Wouldn’t the People’s Liberation Army’s mass killing of innocent people in full public view also be recorded in history? How can these numerous murderers escape the trial of history in the end?

It has been 30 years since the June Fourth Massacre. While it may be just the blink of an eye in the great river of history, it can be an eternity in a person’s life—long enough for a newborn to become a parent himself. For 30 years, dust has risen and fallen, and the moon has waxed and waned, but nothing has soothed our trauma and pain inside. Our suffering is not limited to the massacre on the night of June 3-4, 1989. Over the last 30 years, the Chinese authorities have repeatedly torn open the deep wounds in our hearts and rubbed salt in them. Those in power had initially brashly claimed they would “kill 200,000 people to maintain stability for 20 years,” dispatching hundreds of thousands of field army soldiers to Beijing to kill and burn. But afterwards, the authorities shirked responsibilities and began the despicable and cowardly act of fabricating history. The government first characterized the June Fourth Massacre as “turmoil” and “counterrevolutionary riots,” before relabeling it a “political disturbance” several years later. However, in the 2018 compilation of The Chronicle of40 Years of Reform and Opening prepared by the Institute of Party History and Documentation, the June Fourth Massacre was again relabeled as “turmoil” and the “suppression of counterrevolutionary riots.” Aren’t all the confusion, flip-flopping, and backpedaling making the lies even more hideous?

Today, before the slain heroes of June Fourth—our most beloved—we must confide this: our tears are drained, our strength is exhausted, and our hearts are shattered. All our efforts to clear your names have yet to be successful. We are filled with guilt and remorse, and unbearable grief. Heavens, if you look down upon us, please grant us just a bit more strength and a few more tears, and allow us to wipe clean the mud and scum splashed onto the June Fourth martyrs even to this day! Great Earth, if you look up upon us, please grant peace to the departed in their rest and bring the martyrs justice. They were innocents who sacrificed their lives to the cause of opposing official profiteering and corruption, and most definitely not some “turmoil-inciting elements” or “counterrevolutionary insurgents.” Oh, history, if you are sentient, please soothe the wounds of the martyrs with your hands of justice and allow these pure and holy souls to rest in peace as soon as possible.

Oh, our most beloved, the only thing that we can say to comfort you is that even though you left us suddenly, and brought terrible calamity to each of your families, your loved ones have staunchly stood up with resolve and strength from your pools of blood. To honor the dignity of the dead and the living, we suppressed our grief and stood up tall. Under the martial law troops’ flashing butcher knives, we broke silence to publicly condemn the June Fourth massacre and the perpetrators of this national catastrophe, and to demand that the truth of your killing be revealed and the murderers be held accountable. Over the last 30 years, we have never given up, never stopped searching for those who share our fates, and never surrendered to our tragic lot. Through our mutual support and assistance, we built consensus in our difficult journey, and came together to form the Tiananmen Mothers. This unique community of sufferers, whose fates are bonded by June Fourth, has been steadfastly guarding your spirits in the storm.
We are the guardians of the souls of the June Fourth martyrs.

In order to defend the principle of “peace, rationality, and non-violence” that our loved ones had upheld before their death, the Tiananmen Mothers, since 1995, have sent joint open letters to the annual sessions of the Two Congresses—meetings of the National People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference—and the country’s leaders. In these letters, we have formally proposed our three demands to justly resolve June Fourth, namely: truth, compensation, and accountability. We have also proposed equal dialogue with the government, suggested dealing with June Fourth through legal procedures, and recommended principles such as tackling the more straightforward issues first before gradually solving the more difficult ones.
The Two Congresses come and go every year, as does the anniversary of June Fourth. Each year, we write our open letter and send it out by registered mail. However, we have never heard a single word back from the authorities, as if our letters were stones cast into the sea. Throughout the years, the delegates to the Two Congresses and the national leadership have treated our appeals with arrogance: They have pretended not to hear and have never paid any attention. All we have received in return for our goodwill and sincerity is ever harsher control on us family members of the victims by public security, domestic security, and national security agents.
Time is merciless, and the natural laws of life, aging, sickness, and death spare no one. Since 1995, 55 family members of our group who have joined in this long, hard struggle have died without seeing justice. One of the most tragic cases is that of our fellow group member Mr. Ya Weilin (轧伟林), whose son Ya Aiguo (轧爱国) was killed in the June Fourth Massacre. In 2012, the esteemed man, then 73, found it unbearable to continue to live after all these excruciating years and chose suicide in protest. He resorted to such a drastic measure in order to search for his beloved son in the other world. However, even this was unable to move the hearts of stone of those in power.
Our group members have passed away one by one, with another five gone in 2018! In our sadness and longing for our June Fourth martyrs, who died with unresolved grievances, we are reminded of the victims of the Second Sino-Japanese War. In recent years, the victims (including families of those killed in the Nanjing Massacre, germ warfare victims, and comfort women) have persisted in their requests for apologies and compensation by the Japanese government, and yet the Japanese courts have repeatedly rejected their just demands. On the one hand, the Japanese government has spared no effort to cover up the truth. On the other, it has engaged in delaying tactics in the hope that victims will age and die out one by one as the matter drags on. Its words and deeds have not only filled the victims with indignation but also compelled some Japanese scholars—as well as perpetrators—of conscience to take action to uncover the truth. The ugly deeds of the Japanese government and right-wing forces present a striking contrast with the conduct of the former Chancellor of West Germany Willy Brandt: In 1970, he knelt before the monument commemorating the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in Poland to express remorse and apology. It was Hitler and the Nazis who were responsible for the Holocaust. And Willy Brandt was the chancellor of the free and democratic Germany many years later. In the normal course of things, there was no longer any relationship between them. But Brandt nevertheless took responsibility for the crimes of Nazi Germany and fell to his knees, apologizing to the slain Jewish people and the whole world. Brandt’s kneeling in Warsaw left the international community in awe, elevated the international image of the German nation, and allowed the country to return to the civilized world. For this gesture, Brandt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize the following year. The kneeling in Warsaw also became an important milestone in the improvement of relations between West Germany and Eastern European countries after the war.
In the words of Brandt, “He who forgets or seeks to forget will become sick in his soul.” Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace laureate, once said, “If we forget, the dead will be killed a second time.” He further noted, “If we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices. The rejection of memory . . . would doom us to repeat past disasters, past wars.” The juxtaposition of Japan and Germany is sobering: both murdered other nationals or ethnic groups, and were defeated in the Second World War, yet the polar opposite ways in which they dealt with their past atrocities are deeply thought-provoking. As for the successive Chinese governments, those slaughtered 30 years ago at the hands of martial law troops obeying orders were their fellow countrymen of the same race and ethnicity. In the face of such criminality and facts, can the government look the other way forever?
Those in power in China today are at a crossroads between two options. The first option is to do one’s utmost to cover up the crimes while burying one’s head in the sand—like the Japanese government—and to wait until family members of June Fourth victims age and die out, as if their death would obliterate June Fourth: the miscarriage of justice and unresolved questions. What the authorities fail to appreciate is that the covering up of crimes itself is a new offense. We are also convinced that even after all of us group members have passed away, we will have successors, those who will execute the will of history. Moreover, the longer this debt is owed, the higher the cost, and the more numerous the crimes!
The second option is to learn from Willy Brandt and face history head-on by taking the following actions: Express remorse for the government’s past crimes; hold sincere dialogue with June Fourth victim groups; resolve June Fourth through legal procedures; publicize the truth and number of casualties of the massacre; provide compensation for the victims; and conduct just trials of those responsible for the killings. Taking these measures will usher in a new era in which the tragedy of June Fourth will not be repeated. We the Tiananmen Mothers, the guardians of the souls of June Fourth, eagerly await the arrival of the new era!

We are staunch custodians of hope.

Our most beloved, we know that no matter how much we yearn for you, you will never be able to come home. What we are steadfastly holding out for is simply the long overdue justice. Over the past 30 years, we have looked out for one another in mutual help and support. In our 30 years of guarding the spirits of the deceased and holding on to hope, we have suffered no lack of disappointment and torment. But we will never give up and will continue to persevere! This is the only way for us to stay true to our conscience and honor the souls of the martyrs who died with unresolved grievances.

As we commemorate the souls of June Fourth victims, we want to ask the Chinese government and leaders the following questions.

You promote Marxism—the philosophical approaches of dialectical materialism and historical materialism, which call for comprehensive, complete, and accurate assessment of historical events and appraisal of historical figures. This makes us wonder: As the nation commemorated the 40th anniversary of Reform and Opening-up, why was there no mention of those who accomplished the extraordinary feats of restoring order from chaos and setting the Reform and Opening-up process in motion in China, namely, Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang, former General Secretaries of the Communist Party of China, or of the likes of Wan Li and Xi Zhongxun? Instead, the authorities piled all credit for such historical achievements wholesale onto Deng Xiaoping, the executioner of the June Fourth, conferring upon him the exalted title of the “architect of Reform and Opening up”. Is such practice in line with historical materialism?

You fully affirm that “practice is the sole criterion for testing truth.” So, we would like to ask: Thirty years of practice have sufficiently proven that it was justifiable and legitimate for the students and citizens to petition to the government in protest of official profiteering and corruption in Tiananmen Square. What crimes could they have committed in exercising their constitutional rights? Thirty years of practice have sufficiently proven this: It was precisely the indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians and the suppression of the voice of justice against corruption that led the Chinese officialdom on the unobstructed fast track to corruption in the ensuing 30 years, where an expansive, cascading, unbridled, and utterly vicious corruption contest rages on.

Since the CPC’s 18th National Congress, an emphasis has been placed on “rule the country by law” and “judicial justice.” In particular, the country’s leaders have repeatedly vowed to “allow every citizen to enjoy judicial fairness and justice.” As mentioned above, since 1995, the Tiananmen Mothers have sent jointly signed letters to the annual Two Congresses and the nation’s leaders, in which we have formally proposed our three demands for the fair resolution of June Fourth—truth, compensation, and accountability—along with the recommendation to resolve June Fourth through legal procedures. We have also turned our demands on paper into practical action. On May 14 and May 21, 1999, right before the tenth June Fourth anniversary, we filed complaints against Li Peng, one of the perpetrators of the massacre, with the Supreme People’s Procuratorate. The two complaints were delivered by family members of the victims, which were accepted by the SPP. Our actions back then were consistent with the current government’s judicial reform efforts, but why haven’t we received a single response to this day?

You have been promoting the “Chinese Dream.” As Chinese citizens, and your compatriots, we too have dreams. The dream of the Tiananmen Mothers is the “June Fourth Dream.” We dream that one day, the nation can restore the name of the June Fourth martyrs and rectify the reputation of the 1989 patriotic democracy movement. Specifically, we call for the establishment of a national day of mourning on June 4 each year; the erection of June Fourth monuments and cemeteries to provide the slain souls a final resting place; and holding a state funeral for the victims so that the national trauma will not be forgotten and the June Fourth tragedy will not be repeated! Today, standing before the shrine of our most beloved and all of the June Fourth victims, we muster the greatest courage, unafraid of retaliation and repression, and loudly proclaim everything the June Fourth Dream of the Tiananmen Mothers entails.

We want to ask: When will our June Fourth Dream be realized? Or, when will this be put on your work agenda? When will the government start an equal dialogue with us family members of the victims? (We would like to take the opportunity to remind the current Chinese leaders of a letter written by the former CPC General Secretary Zhao Ziyang to the 16th National Congress while he was under house arrest. He proposed three recommendations for solving June Fourth, namely: “It’s better to resolve it earlier rather than later,” “solve it proactively rather than passively,” and “solve it by ourselves rather than having it solved by others.” Regrettably, his enthusiasm and wisdom were not tolerated by the leaders at the time and, instead, resulted in even more severe restrictions on his detention.)

In recent years, with the manner and air as befit a major power, you have widely promoted the concept of the “community of shared future for mankind” in the international community and the policy of “tilting public resources toward the vulnerable groups” domestically. We wish to know: As a group of Chinese citizens—your compatriots—are we, the Tiananmen Mothers, not a community of tormented destiny? Are we not a vulnerable group? Or does our fate lie outside the community of shared future for mankind? The majority of our group members live in the urban and rural areas in Beijing right among you, struggling for decades with the hardships of losing our loved ones. All of our country’s previous leaders have repeatedly turned a deaf ear to us as if nothing had happened and all was well. Over the last 30 years, has there been a single one of those in power who genuinely cared about or paid attention to us? And how could a government that has trapped us—your compatriots—in pain and suffering without true remorse and efforts to right its wrong be qualified to build a community of shared future for mankind? It would seem that establishing authority across the world would not be as easy as suppressing the people at home.

We have also noticed that not long ago, Chinese leaders repeatedly appealed to the Taiwanese compatriots that “people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait are all of one family” and that “family members don’t fight one another.” Actions speak louder than words. Your swift resolution of the horrific case of your killing your fellow countrymen would be more powerful than a dozen proclamations. Otherwise, how could you win the trust of the world? How would you earn the confidence of the international community and your family across the Strait?

Whenever we see government leaders give speeches about initiatives “for the people” on television, vowing to increase the “sense of happiness,” “sense of gain,” and “sense of security” among citizens, profound sadness and misery well up inside of us. We have to ask: where are our “three senses”? How can we obtain them?

Here, we wish to inform the Chinese leaders: Ever since our most beloved were brutally murdered by martial law troops 30 years ago, our families have borne the unbearable weight of tragedy, and the sense of happiness has just left us. Knowing that the dead cannot come back to life and that they died with unresolved grievances, how can we dare to speak of the luxury of happiness? As fathers and sons yourselves, you should not find it difficult to understand the pain in our hearts.

We might as well analyze the “sense of gain” a little. Whatever their age when our loved ones were killed, it’s very likely that they left behind a crying baby, loving wife, or aging parents. Thirty years ago, they might have been, or were probably soon to become, the pillars of their families. And today? In the 30 years following the loss of the pillars of our families, all that we have gained is endless hardship and suffering. The economic and psychological loss and damage we families of victims have suffered are impossible to describe with words or quantify with numbers. Even worse, the authorities have deprived some of our group members of various rights, including the right to work—for publicly denouncing the June Fourth Massacre, calling for the prosecution of the perpetrators, and demanding humanitarian relief for the families in need. We do not have a “sense of gain” whatsoever. On the contrary, all we have is a sense of deprivation.

The talk of the “sense of security” is even more ironic. The family members of June Fourth victims have been the most “secured” group in the country since the early 1990s, when we started to publicly condemn the massacre and demand the truth regarding the murderous act. Almost every signer of open letters has been living under the watchful eyes of the government’s political and legal organs. Subjecting us to the principle of “presumption of guilt,” the authorities send carloads of agents to stand guard in front of our homes and forbid us to go out or receive guests freely whenever a politically sensitive period rolls around. Even when they do let us leave our homes, there are police officers (or plainclothes agents) and vehicles on our tail. Our phones are tapped; our computers are hacked. Some of us even have surveillance cameras installed in and outside our homes. And some have been more than once called in by the police, put under residential surveillance and/or criminal detention, and even taken to the detention center in handcuffs. The authorities trample on those living outside Beijing with even greater impunity. Local police officers have gone straight to their doors and warned them outright not to sign the joint letters by the Tiananmen Mothers, or else their piddling subsistence allowance would stop coming.

We are the guardians of the souls of the deceased and the custodians of hopes. Today we can proudly tell the spirits of the June Fourth martyrs: Our most beloved, we have not crumbled under intense political repression and will not be divided by the lure of individual gains. This is because your indomitable courage has always been with us!

You will also find solace in the fact that, throughout the long years, your families have not stood alone or in isolation—the world has not forgotten June Fourth. The international community of governments, key political leaders, and civil society groups, along with people of conscience at home and abroad, have continued to be concerned about you and the futures of your loved ones. Their concern has made us feel the glory and warmth of humanity.

As early as 1991, two years following your martyrdom, Nancy Pelosi, then U.S. Congresswoman and now Speaker of the House of Representatives, came to China. Under the glare of armed police standing guard in the streets, Pelosi courageously came to Tiananmen Square—where you had fallen—to unfurl a banner that reads, “To Those Who Died for Democracy in China.”

The United Nations has also expressed concern for us. In 1993, defying the Chinese government’s obstruction, the U.N. General Assembly extended a formal invitation to the family members of June Fourth victims to attend a human rights conference in Vienna with non-governmental organizations from around the world. But unfortunately, the trip did not come to pass.

In 1995, Hillary Clinton, then the U.S. First Lady and later Secretary of State, led a delegation to China to attend the World Conference on Women. She worked with several NGOs to obtain the release of family members of June Fourth victims being illegally detained by Chinese authorities.

In 1998, during their China visit, U.S. President Bill Clinton and the First Lady asked then-Chinese President Jiang Zemin for a meeting with representatives of the Tiananmen Mothers. Even though the meeting did not happen, it was remarkable that at the ensuing joint press conference, Clinton publicly stated his position on June Fourth from the historical perspective and expressed his hope that Jiang Zemin would be on the right side of history on this matter.

In 2008, when Frank-Walter Steinmeier, then Foreign Minister and now the President of Germany, visited China, his persistence eventually broke through the Chinese government’s obstruction and successfully led representatives of German lawmakers from both parties to meet with representatives of the Tiananmen Mothers.

To our knowledge, Václav Havel, the late former President of the Czech Republic, along with several Nobel Peace laureates and many unnamed others, nominated the Tiananmen Mothers for the Nobel Peace Prize multiple times to encourage us to carry on with our mission. We will not forget the invaluable humanitarian concern we received in our most difficult times from officials in foreign embassies in Beijing as well as journalists of many Western countries such as the United States, Great Britain, Germany, France, and Sweden.

Here, we would also like to recognize the fervor of journalists and citizens of Hong Kong. On June 4 every year, the candlelight vigil in Victoria Park always brings tears to our eyes.
And it is precisely due to the generous and politically unconditional humanitarian contributions by civil society human rights groups such as the Independent Federation of Chinese Students and Scholars (全美学自联), Human Rights in China (中国人权), and Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China (港支联)—all regarded by the Chinese government as “hostile organizations”—and numerous friends at home and abroad that the hungry June Fourth orphans could grow up, finish school, and start their own families, that families in need were able to receive special care, and that ailing elders could get by year after year.

Such is the embodiment of universal love! We are immensely grateful yet can offer nothing in return. All we can do is forever remember the generosity in our hearts and pray to the Heavens for blessings to all of the kindhearted people in the world.

Our most beloved! Today, we have overcome a multitude of struggles and gathered here to commemorate you in silence. It has been 30 years, but we have yet to obtain justice for you and allow you to rest in peace. For this we feel enormous guilt. What we can do is uphold our three demands as our firm stance, safeguard the dignity of the dead and the living, maintain the independence of the group of family members of the victims, and be steadfast guardians of your souls and staunch custodians of hope.

May the flowers and candlelight bring your heroic souls some warmth and solace! May the dawn arrive soon, and may the Heavens protect the Chinese nation!

In tearful commemoration in advance of the Tomb-Sweeping Day of 2019,
Tiananmen Mothers


WRIC Invited to Speak at the 63rd UNCSW Panel

Reported by the volunteer of WRIC: Wang Dongye / Yue zhang

United Nations(UN) Commission on the Status of Women Session 63 opened in the morning of March 11, 2019, at the headquarters in New York. Women’s rights in China (WRIC) was invited to attend the regional meeting held on the 8th floor of Church Center. Zhang Jing, the founder of WRIC, and other three guests made keynote speeches. The discussion theme was: Abandoned in China—Baby Girls & Elderly Widows. There were so many people listening that the late arrivals had to stand behind.

The seminar was chaired by Ms. Lois A. Herman, a UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women.

In the meeting, Ms. Reggie Littlejohn ——A Attorney, the Founder OF Women’s Rights Without Frontiers presented Videos on “Abandoned Baby Girls & Forced Female Abortions in China”.  Ms. Margaret Owen, a UK Barrister, the Founder & CEO of Widows for Peace Through Democracy presented a Video on “China Elderly Widows”. About the rights, the social status, and welfare of Chinese women and children, the guests made speeches and held discussions from their respective perspectives and studies. The Attendees and the speakers interacted with each other.
Zhang Jing pointed out: The human rights situation in China has not improved with the rapid economic growth, especially for the majority of vulnerable women, including abandoned and abducted children. In fact, they are suffering from double persecution. First, there is the traditional patriarchal culture. Second, the Chinese government made many law or policies that are not fair to females, and the worst one was the One Child Policy. Chinese society has experienced unprecedented humanitarian disasters. The crimes of abandoning, abducting, and killing female infants are rampant. In short, the One Child policy is the most devastating man-made disaster. This disaster has characteristics of the most homicides, widespread victims, and deepest pain in the longest time ever.

According to the first-hand information from WRIC, Zhang Jing also introduced the tragic life experiences and living conditions of two neglected vulnerable groups: abandoned girls who grew up in nuns and modern child brides. They were both the direct victims of China’s family planning policy. The speech aroused a heated response from the audience, and the media interviewed and reported them one after another.

WRIC’s volunteers Wang Dongye and Yue Zhang also attended the meeting. Assisting in screening PPT is by Wang Dongye and taking photos and videos by Yue Zhang.

Jing Zhang UN Talked About: Status of 2 Groups Abandoned Girls in China

WRIC Jing Zhang                  3/11/2019

The human rights situation in China has not improved with the rapid economic growth, especially for the majority of vulnerable women, including abandoned and abducted children. In fact, they are suffering from double persecution. First, there is the traditional patriarchal culture. Second, the Chinese government made many law or policies that are not fair to females, and the worst one was the One Child Policy. Chinese society has experienced unprecedented humanitarian disasters. The crimes of abandoning, abducting, and killing female infants is rampant. In short, the One Child policy is most devastating man-made disaster. This disaster has the most homicides, widespread victims, and deepest pain in the longest time ever.

Today, I will focus on two vulnerable groups that have received little attention in China: The abandoned girls at Buddhist nunneries and child brides. Both groups were hurt by the Chinese government’s policies.

1 Abandoned Girls in Nunneries

The traditional concept of valuing only the male child is deeply rooted in China, and the harsh one-child policy has led many Chinese parents to abandon their baby girls in order to preserve the opportunity of having a boy. Some parents believe that Buddhists are merciful and leave their female children to the care of the nunneries.
There are more than 50 nunneries in Tongcheng, Anhui Province. Each nunnery has adopted several to dozens of abandoned girls, with an estimated total of more than 1,000 in Tongcheng alone.  The nuns said, when they opened the door in the morning, they often saw an infant with some small clothes in a basket, and a short handwritten letter containing the date of her birth and thanks. Sometimes, the baby had been frozen or bitten by wild dogs to point of death.  Nobody knows their surnames, so they are all given the surname of Buddha, “Shi”.

8 years ago, an infant with weighing less than one kilogram was found abandoned on a haystack beside Jingtulianshe nunnery on verge of death. WRIC’s volunteers and nuns took her to the hospital together. After more than three months of rescue, she survived, and was named Shi Zongyuan.
Shi Chengyuan was brought to a Buddhist nunnery by her family to burn incense at age 5. Then her family abandoned her. There was a note with her birthday in her pocket. Ever since nuns raised her, she has grown up and taken on the duties as a nun. From the beneficiary of the WRIC’s project of Assistance for Girls in Nunnery, Shi Chengyuan became a volunteer for it and is willing to help all those in need.

Nunneries are usually very poor because of little contributions from believers who mainly worship and dedicate to big temples with monks. With so many girls to raise, it has become even more difficult. Some children have significantly worse physical development than their peers . There are also many children who died or ran away. Five girls at Dobao nunnery left after their master passed away and nobody knows where they are.

Also, some nuns treat girls as personal belongings by forbidding them to go to school for education and mandating them to be Buddhist nuns.

What worries nuns the most is education of the girls because they have no birth certificates. This means no household registration or eligibility for social welfare, and they have to pay high tuition fees to go to school. WRIC’s volunteers have repeatedly negotiated with the local government for considerations and assistance. Since 2013, children have received 600 Yuan per person every month as an orphan allowance. However, education is still a luxury to them. Over the past 30 years, there have been very few female college students raised by nunneries in Tongcheng.

These girls have not only psychological problems, but they also have no personal safety at all. A migrant worker raped Shi Liuyin, an 17 year old girl of Gulingquan nunnery, causing her to become pregnant. Eight months later, WRIC volunteers learned her story and found her at a dilapidated temple in mountains, lonely and helpless. They let her live in the home of a volunteer. She was sponsored by WRIC and escaped compulsory abortion. Finally, she gave birth to a girl who is still being raised in the nunnery.
 At present, the Chinese government requires girls to go to the Welfare center for children (official orphanage) if they want to get orphan subsidies. These poor girls were abandoned by their parents because of the government’s one-child policy, and now government’s another policy has forced them to leave the nunneries where they grew up. Their lives have been destroyed again.

What are the official orphanages? They can legally deal with the adoption of orphans, and thus obtain amazing profits, especially when it comes to foreign-related adoption. Official orphanages have been exposed repeatedly as scandals of illegal sales of babies and child abuse. Please take a look at “The ORPHANS OF SHAO”, a book published by WRIC.

2)  Contemporary Child Brides In China

Next I want to talk about another neglected vulnerable group, the modern child brides in China.

Betrothed children has been part of the long history in China. After 1949, they were rarely heard of. But since China enforced the One child policy in the late 1970s, the patriarchal culture also resurfaced and that came with child brides. The severest situation has been happening in Putian, Fujian province. According to the WRIC survey, the number of child brides from Putian rose dramatically high in 1983. The government’s One child policy has played a major role in fueling the situation.

A child bride named Wang said that 31 years ago, her adoptive mother bought her from a trafficker for 94 Yuan.

A child bride was killed by her husband in Putian, but the local official did not care and answered the reporter: If they are not allowed to have a child bride, can you help them find wives?

Since 2009, WRIC has held several activities in Putian to search the child brides’ relatives, and has helped three child brides find their families from Guizhou province several thousand kilometers away. They were all abducted when they were kids. WRIC also successfully helped 15 girls find their biological parents through DNA comparison.

Originally, it was the responsibility of the government to solve these social problems. But what the Chinese government has done is cruelly cracking down on charitable organizations like WRIC. In the five Chinese projects of WRIC, volunteers were always criticized, threatened, chased, blocked, arrested, imprisoned and sentenced.

Since 2012, almost all WRIC volunteers have been detained and sentenced, and the project has suffered a fatal blow. On behalf of all the members of WRIC and the recipients of our projects, I would like to pay the highest tribute to the political persecuted volunteers of WRIC!

Closing words

Girls in nunneries and child brides are just the tip of the iceberg for China’s vulnerable groups. The Chinese government ignores the suffering of these vulnerable groups and refuses to take responsibility. They even close all information about one child policy victims, deaths and damages to the top state of confidentiality. This is unfair, malfeasant and criminal to all Chinese people, especially women and children. The Chinese government must face the history, take responsibility, and compensate all victims. WRIC will continue to appeal for women and children under the dual persecution of autocratic power and patriarchal society. Pay attention to vulnerable groups such as nunnery girls and child brides, and continue to fight for their basic rights and interests.


Laogai survivors worry about their museum and Voice of America

BBG Watcher                                    December 11, 2018

On the day when the world commemorates 70 years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, waste bins outside the only Laogai Museum in the world in Washington DC were filled with valuable Laogai Research Foundation (LRF) books documenting China’s vast Laogai system of forced prison labor. China’s government must feel relieved. And why shouldn’t they be?

The discarded publications, in both English and Chinese, included reports and books, both hard cover and soft cover. There in the waste bins was published research including “Laogai Reports” and “Better Ten Graves than One Extra Birth: China’s Brutal One-Child Policy.”

Jing Zhang discovered that waste bins outside the Laogai Museum in Washington DC were filled with valuable Laogai Research Foundation books Dec 11,2018. The Executive Director, Ms. Huang Ciping, also found that a large number of secretaries were thrown away from the door of the Laogai Museum same month.

The discarded books were in excellent condition, and were thankfully retrieved by Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB) Board Member Jing Zhang and two other Lagoai survivors who were in DC to participate in a Wei Jingsheng’s Symposium in Observance of 40th Anniversary of Beijing Democracy Wall, 4th “Human Rights Without Borders” Exhibition, and 4th “Human Rights and Freedom Defender” Prize Award Ceremony.

They saw the waste bins outside the Laogai Museum while visiting the premises. Thrown away as refuse were the survivors’ own personal stories and accounts of many other Laogai survivors. This former repository of their brave tales had become a scene out of “Fahrenheit 451”, but without the flames.
At a time when China has re-invigorated its Laogai system to oppress Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Province, Laogai survivors feel dishonored.

The refusal of those currently in charge of the Laogai Research Foundation to properly reopen the Laogai Museum in DC – the only Laogai Museum in the world – for scheduled tours, members of the public, and scholars, is nothing short of a disgrace. In the words of Harry Wu, who was an ardent supporter of US broadcasts to China and member of CUSIB’s Advisory Board until his sudden death in 2016: “But to forget is to betray.”

How can the present management, or those who served since Harry Wu’s death keep such a valuable resource about the Laogai system hidden from those who would learn from it? The documents and artifacts contained in that building were to be available for research and scholars – and for the general public – and can refute many of China’s defense claims about their human rights atrocities. Can there ever be a more important time to make this information known?

Or is this the time to throw them in the garbage?

Of course, Laogai survivors, some who have contributed artifacts and documents for display and research at the Laogai Museum are truly upset that the current management has shuttered the doors except for nominal visits, and employees are in the process of throwing out books that document the Laogai survivors’ suffering.

Adding further insult to injury, an employee told the visiting Laogai survivors of an unconfirmed rumor that the museum’s building might be sold.

Prior to Harry Wu’s death, he and the museum staff worked with the US Department of Homeland Security to identify products made through forced labor in China’s Laogai. They planned to host a photo exhibit to highlight Nobel Peace Prize Winner Liu Xiaobo and a photo exhibit about the plight of Tibet. They planned to co-host a conference with the Cato Institute about the 50th Anniversary of the Cultural Revolution and its impact on human rights in China. They planned to continue to hold quarterly lectures series with the American University students and faculty, and the publication of a book to be authored by former Congressman Frank Wolf. All of these projects and plans required reliance on and the dedication of the Laogai Museum staff.

When the Laogai Museum closed in December, 2016, the entire staff was fired by the management. The Laogai Research Foundation staff then commenced a lawsuit.

The status of the Laogai Museum must now be addressed by the current management which is responsible for warehousing all the artifacts, the museum’s collected works, an entire third floor of documents intended for research in a building which remains closed and unavailable to the public.

The Laogai Museum’s relevance is clear, and we should not let this resource disappear.

We must also remain vigilant about Voice of America China services, the quality of VOA broadcasts, and the willingness of VOA management to permit the opinions of China’s communist leaders in VOA programs without properly countering their propaganda and disinformation with voices of critics and victims of communism such as those that were once presented in the Laogai Museum.