A group of women petitioners kneel as they cry outside a court in southwest China＇s Chongqing municipality on May 13, 2010, as they hold up pieces of paper condemning government officials for taking their land and property and illegally detaining petitioners in black jails. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
A special touring performing arts group recently began in China, not for entertaining, but for expressing the injustices suffered by the Chinese people under the Chinese Communist Party’s rule and for raising world awareness of petitioners’ suffering in China.
The group’s recruitment announcement was published on the website of Human Rights Campaign in China, which describes itself as a “community-based organization” that aims “to protect the fundamental rights and dignity of China’s poor and promote a just and fair society.” The announcement provided the phone numbers of organizers inside China for volunteers to call.
The announcement says, “Our constant belief is that justice must prevail over evil! We definitely don’t allow evil to spread, and don’t allow evil to disdain human life!”
Guo Qizhen, who initiated the performing arts group, said it offers a platform for petitioners to express their anger and appeal for justice by performing their real-life stories through music, singing, drama, and so on.
“I’ve petitioned for around 20 years. And I’ve seen the miserable lives of petitioners,” Guo told Epoch Times over the phone. “On World Human Rights Day, Dec. 10, 12 petitioners from Hubei attempted group suicide. Two months ago, there was a petitioner who self-immolated at Beijing South Railway Station. I established this petitioners’ art group as a platform for people to accuse the humiliation and injustice, release petitioners’ anger, and avoid fatal group incidents.”
The open recruitment announcement welcomes people who are sympathetic and enthusiastic about public welfare, and are able to produce performing artworks objectively reflecting the misery petitioners’ experiences.
The announcement says, “Once there is a petitioner whose rights are harmed, everyone who has compassion and conscience is obliged to speak up for the injustice and is responsible for sending positive energy to the society!”
“I composed lyrics about my petition experience and sing with melodies of other songs to tell my grievances,” Chen Shuhua, a petitioner from Langfang City of northern China’s Hebei Province who joined the art group. He told Epoch Times over the phone, “I was cheated when I bought a house, and I’ve petitioned for 10 years. However, Langfang [officials] wanted to keep a record of zero petition cases, and so they’ve detained me in black jails three times.”
“The most recent time, I was detained in a room less than 10 square meters (107.64 square feet). I wasn’t allowed to leave, and wasn’t even allowed to take a shower. They gave me medicine that put me to sleep for 48 hours.”
The art group founder Guo Qizhen was arrested in 1994 because of a conflict he had with Ma Guichen, a high-level official in the local housing management department. He reported Ma’s corruption and faced a one-year prison sentence as revenge from Ma in 1995.
Guo has petitioned his case since then but failed to get support from officials. He has also been supporting other petitioners and rights activists who are suppressed by authorities.
After writing outspoken articles on the Internet criticizing the government, Guo was again sentenced to prison in 2006 for “subversion of state power.” He was released May 2010.
According to the art group’s recruiting announcement, the group is planning on taking a performing trip in China next year.