Ban on petitioners attempting suicide

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 May, 2006, 12:00am

Move aimed at stemming flow of appeals in Beijing

Protesters may be banned from threatening to kill or harm themselves to attract attention to their grievances under draft changes to Beijing's petition law.

The proposed amendments were drafted by the legislation department of the Beijing Municipal People's Congress to help stem the rising tide of appeals made in the capital. They will be considered by the Beijing Municipal People's Congress Standing Committee.

The amendments seek to outlaw other behaviour, from dumping people who cannot care for themselves at petition offices to blocking traffic and gathering around government buildings.

Zhang Yin , vice-director of the congress' legislation department, told the Beijing Star Daily there had been growing numbers of petitions lodged in the city in recent years and people often adopted extreme actions to attract attention to their cause.

Mr Zhang said most of the complaints lodged in Beijing related to rural land requisition, demolition of urban houses, employment relations and social security.

Xu Zhiyong, a law researcher from the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, said it was unreasonable to forbid people from threatening suicide or self-harm.

The prohibitions on other behaviour in the proposal were covered by existing legislation, he said.

'People only kill themselves when they have no other way out. I have noticed more and more people turning to those extreme means, such as jumping from high buildings, jumping into rivers, besieging the state council or embassies, and usually they can get their problems addressed by the central government through these means,' Dr Xu said.

'A ban would only have the opposite result - more people will make trouble. I think political reform is needed so governments become more democratic and fairer, otherwise the flood of petitions, especially to Beijing, will continue.'