The South China Morning Post has reported that the libel trial against the authors of An Investigation into China’s Peasantry has opened in Anhui Province:
“A court in Anhui has begun hearing a libel case against the authors of a best-selling book which exposed the plight of peasants in China. The claim has been brought by a former county Communist Party secretary who accuses them of making false accusations.
The widely watched trial opened yesterday in the Fuyang Intermediate People’s Court. Chen Guidi and Wu Chuntao are being sued by Zhang Xide , formerly party secretary of Linquan county and now vice-chairman of the Fuyang People’s Political Consultative Conference. Mr Zhang claims descriptions of him in the book were false and have damaged his reputation.”
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From the SCMP article:
“In one chapter of the book, Chen and Wu tell how farmers in Wangying village, Linquan county, were persecuted by officials when they petitioned the central government about the exorbitant fees they were being made to pay. The chapter recounted the torture of farmers’ leaders, a crackdown the authors wrote had been ordered by Mr Zhang.
In court yesterday, the plaintiff denied he had imposed exorbitant fees on farmers or persecuted the petitioners. He also said the authors had hurt him by describing him as a ‘short and stout fellow who uses foul language’.
He presented documents from the Fuyang government which he said would show he had not mistreated the farmers nor persecuted them…
Yesterday’s trial attracted more than 100 farmers, who travelled several hours from Linquan county on tractors and other farm vehicles to support the two authors… Asked why they wanted to attend the hearing, a farmer waiting outside the court house said: ‘They are suing [the people] who speak for us’… Many of the farmers who have come to support the authors said they would be willing to testify in court even at the risk of facing official vengeance. ”