Radio France Internationale reported that Beijing launched a severe crackdown on its veterans for initiating a rights petition. Recently local courts sentenced 18 veterans who participated in the protests in Zhenjiang (Jiangsu province) and Pingdu (Shandong province) last year to two to six years in prison for “disturbing the social order,” “intentional assault,” or “the crime of preventing officials from performing their duties.” In the year that marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party, the 30th anniversary of the June 4th incident, and the 100th anniversary of the May 4th Movement, the heavy sentences show that Beijing is taking a hard stance against the veterans’ rights petition.
Chinese veterans have been asking the authorities to resolve the issue of unfair benefits after their retirement. In recent years, veterans used social media to launch joint petitions to protest their rights and the scale has been growing. In October 2016, nearly 10,000 veterans from more than 10 provinces and cities came to Beijing to petition. They gathered outside the building of the Central Military Commission. The news had a great impact throughout the country.
On June 20 last year, a group of veterans in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu Province, protested their rights in front of the city government. After the city government sent unidentified personnel to beat them, veterans from all over China came to Zhenjiang to show their support. On June 23, the authorities dispatched nearly 10,000 armed police to disperse the protesting veterans who gathered in front of the city government and managed to intercept veterans who were on their way to Zhenjiang.
On October 4 last year, dozens of veterans from Shandong Pingdu were preparing to go to Beijing to petition. After many of them were intercepted from going to Beijing, more veterans from all over Shandong came to show their support. On the 6th, thousands of veterans went to the Pingdu Municipal Government to protest. The veterans used wooden sticks to fight back against the police who used tear gas to forcibly disperse the crowd.
In 2018, in response to the increasingly large-scale veteran protests, the Chinese authorities formed the Department of Veteran Affairs to “transfer and resettle military cadres and retired soldiers, to provide education and training for retired military personnel, and to resolve the dissatisfaction among the military personnel.”
Source: Radio France Internationale, April 19, 2019