October 23, 2016
On August 31, the Supreme People’s Court of China approved the death sentence of a young man named Jia Jinglong (贾敬龙). The decision wasn’t conveyed to Jia’s lawyers until October 18. Since then, legal scholars, lawyers, journalists, writers, and netizens from all walks of life have spoken out on Chinese social media about the injustice in sentencing Jia Jinglong to death. Readers can seek out the lawyers’ written defense and discussions about the legality of the forced demolition of Jia’s home and the larger issue of social justice, but here is the story of Jia Jinglong. – The Editors
JIA JINGLONG STANDS ON THE SECOND STORY OF HIS HOME ATTEMPTING TO STOP THE DEMOLITION.
Jia Jinglong is a young man from the North Gaoying Village, Chang’an District, Shijiazhuang (石家庄市长安区北高营村), a capital city of Hubei Province. In 2013 his girlfriend of four years agreed to his marriage proposal, and the wedding date was set for May 25 that year. In preparation, he went about renovating and refurbishing his old family home for their new life together. Every day as he went about the construction work, no matter how busy he was, he kept a smile on his face and never fatigued. As his sister remarked: “He often works late into the night to renovate and decorate the new home for his bride.”
Jia loved the house so much that he cleaned out the dust between cracks in the floor with a moist rag. As part of the interior decoration, he framed the words “I Love My Home” made out of one-cent coins that he had painstakingly collected, and hung it in the living room.
In the early hours of May 6, 2013, black sedans swarmed on Jia’s home, and the men who got out of them began pelting bricks at it. The following day, at 5 p.m., the head of the village He Jianhua (何建华) ordered a demolition team to destroy Jia’s house, while he stood on the second floor and tried to hold them at bay. But the men abducted his father, then beat bloody two of his cousins, forcing him to surrender. When he came down from the second floor, the thugs held him to the ground and began smashing his head, resulting in profuse bleeding. After his sister called the police, he was brought to the Gaoying police station and gave oral testimony until 3 a.m., May 8. His home was demolished in its entirety, and everything in it, including all that was to be part of Jia and his bride’s new life together, was buried in the rubble.
Two months after the destruction, Jia’s fiance relented to the demands of her father and broke up with him. Jia Jingyuan (贾敬媛), his sister, said: “The home that was demolished had been carefully, lovingly renovated. Every decoration in it was his hand work. New furniture was bought for the approaching wedding. Who would have thought that the ending would be so cruel.”
In the time that followed Jia Jinglong wrote numerous letters of complaint to the Chang’an District Procuratorate and the Office of Letters and Appeals — to no result. After having his home demolished, and being held down and beaten and humiliated, his efforts to discuss compensation with the village head He Jianhua also came to naught.
On February 19, 2015, New Year’s Day on the Chinese lunar calendar, Jia Jinglong approached He Jianhua at close range and killed him with a modified nail gun.
On August 31, 2016, the Supreme People’s Court authorized Jia’s death sentence. Jia Jinglong, a mere 29-years-old, is to be put to death, any day now, for killing the village chief who had ordered the destruction of the new home for him and his bride, beating and humiliating him and his family, and refusing to give any compensation.
Many people, out of a sense of righteous indignation, have called for Jia Jinglong’s life to be spared — and some are even suggesting that the abolition of the death penalty might begin from Jia’s case. But the root of all this isn’t a “legal” matter: the communist authorities are simply using the name of the law, and legal mechanisms, to tell the Chinese people: The conspiracy of interests represented by He Jianhua and his like, and their ability to do whatever they please, will be protected, and those who oppose them and threaten those interests must be punished.
Tang Yinghong (唐映红) is a psychologist and writer living in China. This is an unauthorized translation of an excerpt of his essay “Signs of our time: Jia Jinglong, a victim of forced demolition, and the accountant who sells sex to pay mortgage” ( 《被强拆的贾敬龙与卖淫的女会计，代表了我们生活的时代》).