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Chinese farmer teaches himself Law to take a chemical firm polluting his land to court – and he’s winning (so far!).
Wang Enlin lives in Yusuhtu Village in the Heilongjiang Province of China. One evening in 2001, as Mr. Wang was enjoying a game of cards with his neighbors, he was horrified to discover that the house they were in was, in fact, flooded –along with other areas of farmland within the village, including Mr. Wang’s land. The flooding had come from a Qihua factory stationed nearby and was so toxic that the farmland was reported as unfit for growing crops for a long time. The Qihua group may have carried on allowing toxic waste to pollute the farmlands of Yushutu Village for as many as fifteen years.
Upon consulting local authorities, Mr. Wang was repeatedly asked to provide evidence – however, with his three years of education, he was unsure of being able to prove the pollution that had affected his land, and the land of his neighbors. As such, Mr. Wang spent an incredible sixteen years reading law book upon law book, studying by himself with only his dictionary to help him. He traded corn to the keeper of the local bookstore, in exchange for him being able to come in and read the law books for free. His neighbors also joined the effort, receiving advice from Mr. Wang’s new-found knowledge to begin compiling evidence themselves.
A Chinese law firm, hearing of Mr. Wang’s efforts, first provided him with free advice, then agreed to help members of the community file the petition against the Qihua company. It took eight years for the court to process the petition, but at last, in 2015, Mr. Wang’s hard work began to pay off – thanks to the evidence he’d so painstakingly gathered over sixteen years, the court ruled in their favor in the first instance.
Although the Qihua group are appealing against the court’s decision, Mr. Wang is determined that justice will prevail on behalf of himself and his community.
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