American Woman Becomes Petitioner in China

AP reports on American Julie Harms who is joining the crowds petitioning outside the Supreme People’s Court, in an effort to gain the release of her finace who has been detained on trespassing charges:

Despite what the crowd might expect of a foreigner, she has made little progress. Her boyfriend faces his second trial on trespassing charges on Wednesday.

“They see this white face and think I have some magic powers, when I can’t even resolve my boyfriend’s case successfully,” said Harms. She made a sour face. “I haven’t really heard of the whole happy ending.”

Chinese have brought grievances about corruption and injustice to Beijing for centuries, first to the emperor and now to the ruling communist party. Some stay in the capital for months or years, camping out under highways. Some are grabbed off the streets and sent home, often being held in unofficial detention centers call “black jails.”

Harms is believed to be one of the few, and perhaps the first, foreign petitioner. Largely spared the rough treatment Chinese petitioners often receive, the results are no different. She finds official suspicion, indifference and the desire that complainers would simply go away.

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