April 5, 2006

Nina on day 42: The City Government Petition Office & Pain

Filed under: Nina's blog — Rebecca MacKinnon @ 5:48 pm

On April 4th Nina wrote this anguished post:

Yesterday afternoon, I went to the Beijing Petition Office clutching my last strand of hope.  On arriving I was startled by the number of police cars parked at the gate.  Were there normally so many police there for protection?  Were they afraid of someone causing trouble?  The petition office was much noisier than the Public Security Bureau.  Most of the people were white-haired elderly women.  When I was almost to the front of the line, a few bright-eyed and strapping men, whispering to each other, suddenly appeared in the main hall.  Their arrival was clearly incompatible with the atmosphere of the hall.  Before I had finished explaining the situation, the petition receptionist told me that the Beijing Public Security Bureau was a specialized organization, and the Beijing city government could not exercise supervision over it.  In reply, I told her that my brother lived in Beijing, and was taken away by Beijing police, why couldn’t they exercise supervision over this?  The receptionist helplessly answered that the Beijing Public Security Bureau is under the direct jurisdiction of higher authorities.  Did this mean that the city government did not even have the right of inquiry regarding its actions?  Under duress from me, she gave me a suggestion: report the situation to the Procuratorate [the prosecutor’s office].  The Procuratorate should be able to supervise the Public Security Bureau.  It appears that the petition offices of all government organs only serve as windows.  None of them can solve real problems.  They can’t even accept materials.  Looking at the two sparse lines of characters on their petition registration form, and the employee next to it typing at a computer, my heart was overcome with despair. In the end, would this all just become a record in some computer?

When I sat down in a chair to rest and let my mood re-balance, that group of strong men gradually dissolved.  The final “suit” left after observing me for a long time.  When I was preparing to go back to the window and ask for more advice, I was held up by the never-ending moral reasoning of a forty year-old gentleman nearly unable to support himself.  I noticed that the group of men had returned to the main hall.  More employees joined them, one after another, from the offices and outside.  Was this big posture just for that agitated unemployed worker?  Was something else important happening today?  Before I sorted out the situation, a phone call from an old classmate forced me to leave the clamorous petition hall.  Goodness!  Besides a row of police cars outside the entrance, there was a bus too.  While talking on the phone, those middle-aged, strong men that had appeared in the main hall successively passed by me, looking me over, and getting on and off the bus.  It seemed like continuing to stay there wasn’t going to help anything, and my nerves were getting more and more frayed.  After weighing the options, I resolutely left that noisy, hopeless place.

Yesterday was an especially chaotic and overwhelming day.  All kinds of information were coming out, different voices were speaking in my ear, and I had to evaluate them and make decisions.  Time was not giving me much room to maneuver.  My taut nerves were constantly taking on new burdens.  At the end, I started to suspect that a feather would be enough to snap them, and make me break down.  While eating dinner, I couldn’t help but tell my friends: I am so scared!  I am scared that any decision I make might cause irrevocable losses for my brother.  In fact, living with the thoughts of an ordinary person is happy.  Living as a thinker implies that you will fall constantly deeper into the suffering of thought.  My brother is not as he appears from the outside, often sunny and strong.  He has a sensitive, sentimental heart.  When he observes and thinks about social problems, his body is affected by his feelings, and he feels the pain of those involved.  Because of our blood relation, I can feel his pain and suffering, but am unable to help.  The two times I have cried hardest in my life were for my brother.  He has already become a permanent kind of anguish in my heart.  Sometimes, I wish that he were not so outstanding, that he could be more ordinary.  Then he could enjoy the happiness of an ordinary person.  But my brother is my brother.  I can only feel proud of him through my anguish.

It’s already very late.  I have a splitting headache, and no more energy to type.  I can only put yesterday’s diary down for today.  Today is still a sunny day.  Besides some appointments made a while ago, what I was planning for did not happen.  That’s good news, right?  I am accustomed to being busy.  I don’t know what to do when it’s calm.  I sincerely hope that the last two weeks has an early settlement.  I am already nearly unable to bear the weight of this life, especially taking responsibility for my brother’s life.


  1. What a terrible position to be in. Good luck.

    Comment by michael — April 6, 2006 @ 10:07 am

  2. Congressman Jim Gerlarch has petitioned Chinese ambassador in Washington. Petition letter will be published soon…

    Comment by Friend — April 6, 2006 @ 4:58 pm

  3. Hao Wu Update…

    The first time I was in China, back when there was no doubt you were living in a totalitarian state, albeit one that was struggling to come back to life after the horrors of the Cultural Revolution, a friend sent……

    Trackback by The Peking Duck — April 7, 2006 @ 5:49 am

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