By Swathi Anantha:
Whether we live in rural Karnataka or urban China, the struggles of achieving social justice are the same. We may call it “degentrification” (forced buying of lands by the rich from the poor in order to develop real estate and sell it for a higher price) or corruption, as in the case of B. S. Yeddyurappa’s well known land and mining scam. Those individuals being pressured and cheated by the law are, ironically, the same people who do not have access to sound legal advice and tools to fight the system. But what if a few brave educated individuals speak up and attempt to fight the political system through the legal system? They get locked up.
Chinese lawyers and rights activists Ni Yulan and her husband Dong Jiqin “were jailed on charges of ‘picking quarrels, provoking trouble and willfully destroying private and public property’, a court spokesman said.” These are the excuses used by the court to prevent this couple from advising individuals whose property and homes have been seized by the government illegally. These frivolous charges are being used to threaten and weaken them in prison, as well as, prevent them from aiding their clients. Their health has deteriorated severely during a matter of few months of detainment. Amnesty International stated that Ni Yulan’s “kneecaps and feet were broken during her detention in 2002. She has also described the ill treatment by authorities in media interviews, saying that she was pinned down and kicked until she was not able to walk.” When this woman who is strong and brave even after her maltreatment in 2002 continued to speak the truth and advocate for the vulnerable poor for 9 more years she receives a sentence of 2-years of imprisonment. Is this not obvious evidence of human rights violations? Are these the values of a democratic nation? This woman educated herself through the reputable institutions of her country, learned the policies and laws of her government, and respectfully attempted to fight the holes in democracy according to the books.
Her reward was to be betrayed by the same justice system that was meant to empower her and disillusion the many underprivileged she served. How many middle class families are losing the fight to a corrupt government everyday? And if a lawyer who has studied the legal system and has courage cannot fight the atrocities of the government what hope is there for the common man? Many activists in China are being wrongfully arrested and suppressed while in Karnataka many uneducated and poor individuals are being manipulated and unaccounted for. And China calls itself a democratic nation.