Yuan’é Hu

Thursday August 2nd 2012, Yuan’é Hu is on the sidewalk in Belleville. It’s the same place she’s been nearly every single day since she ended the hard journey which she to took to get to France eight months earlier. Just like several hundred other Chinese women in their forties she left her life, her daughter, her family, and her friends to make the trip. Europe and its promises, the promise of «decent» wages, of better working conditions, of «freedom» which is portrayed in the rare western media which isn’t filtered by the authorities of the hinese Communist Party. But just like so many others Yuan’é Hu was tricked by a passer who had promised her both a job which would allow her to send a little money back home and papers. That’s how she ended up on the sidewalk selling her body in miserable conditions, sharing a room with eight other women, all of whom have been denied their dignity.

Maybe Yuan’é Hu was impressed by the displays of some of her fellow countrymen, the ones who lounge around in SUVs and limousines on their wedding day, who have papers, who care only for themselves, more often than not, exploiting those who aren’t so lucky. Maybe Yuan’é Hu thought she could count on the soldidarity of the Chinese community. But all she ever got there was scorn, shame, and exclusion. That’s how it often is. Like the saying goes «It’s the last one in who closes the door.» and «Every man for himself». She tried keeping in touch with her daughter, calling her every two weeks. She told her she worked in a garment factory and did a little babysitting on the side. She said «It’s hard and it’s tiring but everything is fine.»

Yuan’é Hu had little choice when some horrible individuals told her that in order to pay back the passers she was going to have to work as a prostitute or else face the consequences. This is obviously the case for many undocumented people, the exploited, those mutilated by misery, harrassed by the cops.

Thursday August 2nd 2012, Yuan’é Hu is on the sidewalk in Belleville. It’s the same place she’s been nearly every single day since she ended the hard journey which she to took to get to France eight months earlier. She’s waiting for a customer on the burning macadam of the square in Belleville. She’s waiting to exchange her dignity for a few bank notes which will go directly from the customer’s pockets to the pimp’s. The customer doesn’t agree to the prices. He tries to negociate. In this world whether you’re buying a body or a carpet it’s all the same. Everything is negociable. Yuan’é Hu gives in and accepts. She takes the customer into a tiny room which she rents for this purpose. She won’t be found until the evening, naked, strangled with the strap of her own purse, marks of violence on both the inside and the outside of her body. Yuan’é Hu is dead.

She was killed by indifference. She was killed by misery. She was killed by treachery. She was killed by trust. She was killed by human borders. She was killed by the violence of men.

The justice system has just sentenced her murderer to 20 years in prison, as if he were the only one responsible for her death. It’s as if this were just some isolated incident, unconnected from any social context, the act of a man whose elimination would fix the problem. It’s as if this slaughterhouse justice had nothing to do with the imprisonment and expelling of hundreds of people just because they don’t have the proper papers. We may recall the example of the undocumented Chinese prostitutes who were locked up in the detention center in December 2013 during a wave of police repression «against the pimps» in the 13th district of Paris leading to dozens of arrests. It’s as if the terror of the State, through its judges and its cops, had no responsibility in the death of undocumented prositutes, in the killing of migrants on the borders of Spain, in their miserable rafts on the coasts of Italy or on the barbed wire of Greece. It’s as if the pigs in uniforms who claim to defend women and children were not responsible for the constant fear which caused Yuan’é Hu to live in hiding, away from the eyes of the rich and the cops. She lived like a zombie, clandestinely, like an unwanted person. Yuan’é Hu thought she would either have to work as a prostitute or else die in terror. But in the end it was both.

Today we wish to shed tears for Yuan’é Hu and all of those like her. But sadness has never caused walls to fall. But rage and revolt can.

To Yuan’é Hu and all of those who are killed in silence by misery, all of those who the State kills without even getting its hands dirty, all of those who capitalism starves without anyone feeling responsible.

To the idea that one day we shall rise up, we, the unwanted of this world, and we will seek revenge for all of the misdeeds of the State, the cops, the bosses, and the national communities.

Death to the powers that be!

 

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