Monday, August 21, 2006

"Eminent domain with an oriental flavor."

We mustn’t take our freedom for granted


Phil Riddle
The Weatherford Democrat
Copyright 2006

Despite the 100-plus degree summer days we’ve recently been blessed with, despite having a governor who is more concerned with the price of hair spray than the education of our state’s children, and despite the cost of a tank of gas nearing the same price as a small diamond, there’s no place I’d rather be than Texas.

One of the main reasons living here is a joy is the freedom to say things those in power disagree with.

Sadly, there are parts of the world where this is not true.

The most visible spot, of course, is China, the last bastion of communism with any worldwide power, and, sadly, a frequent trade partner with the United States.

A BBC report earlier this week reported Chinese activist Fu Xiancai was beaten so severely he is not expected to ever walk again.

Fu protested for his countrymen who are expected to be displaced by a planned hydroelectric project in the Hubei province of China.

The dam, the largest in the world, is touted as flood control for the Yangtze River, as well as a massive electric power source.

Fu’s reason for protesting the project is it will displace villagers, who, in many cases, have been relocated to inferior farm land and denied compensation by corrupt local officials, Human Resources In China stated.

Sounds like eminent domain with an oriental flavor.

Can you imagine the punishment the man would have endured had the Chinese planned to put up an NFL stadium on the site?

The beating, according to HRIC, resulted in paralysis.

The mortifying aspect of this story is not that a government would sanction such an act, but that investigators deny it ever happened.

That’s right, police looking into the flogging say it was self-administered.

He kicked his own ... well, you know.

That’s right. According to the BBC story, Fu’s son was told since no other footprints were found at the scene of the attack, officials concluded he must have hit himself.

Right. A self-inflicted blow to the back of his neck broke three of Fu’s vertebrae.

According to HRIC, Fu has been the subject of threats, harassment and attacks for the past year. In addition, the group is concerned about the independence of the investigation.

Ya think?

Reminds me of a story that came from right here in the Lone Star State. It seems a judge had ruled suicide as the cause of death of a young stabbing victim.

That probably would have raised few eyebrows except the corpse had 27 knife wounds.

So, the Chinese government stole productive land, replaced it with acreage of lower quality, offered no recompense for the switch and will build the world’s largest dam on the property.

China then beat and crippled someone who disagrees with the official state stance on the project, but didn’t have the moo goo gai pan to tell the rest of the world it did it.

Then to top it off, they couldn’t come with a better story than, “Uh, I guess he kicked his own ... well, you know.”

What price will China pay for continued human rights abuses?

As long as we, the most affluent nation on Earth, continue to demand cheap, Chinese-made products with no eye on the bigger picture, there is no cost.

Fu’s work and his subsequent beating will be for nothing unless we in Texas and the rest of the U.S. notice and respond.

Is always getting the lowest price worth Fu having bones broken for speaking his conscience? That’s for you to decide.

However, who will stand up for us if, God forbid, it were to ever happen here?

Fu can’t.

© 2006 The Weatherford Democrat: