Coffin chaos: Outrage in Chinese province over ‘cremation only’ law (PHOTOS)
The drastic measures were introduced in several counties in southeastern Jiangxi province earlier this year. By September 1, local authorities aim to have made cremation the only approved method of disposing of bodies. Officials explain that the rule is the only way to save land in a province with over 45 million residents.
Photos and videos on social media show the “zero burial” policy in full swing – officials are seen entering villages, confiscating coffins that people have prepared from their homes. The coffins are then piled up and smashed by excavators.
屁民死后被强行火化，— Juha (@Juha78122756) July 30, 2018
Locals there don’t seem ready to give up traditional practices easily, however. Some were trying to stop the destruction by climbing inside coffins, but were pulled out by force. Some poor households have spent their whole lives saving up to buy coffins for their family, the South China Morning Post reported.
与一位老友谈到江西的砸棺材运动，老友说他的一位大学同学在同学群唠叨了好几个月，控诉其父亲的棺材被砸个稀巴烂，祖坟也被掘了。因为老友的这位大学同学一向很爱国，所以老友也就没有安慰他。老友认为，安慰一个被国家蹂躏的爱国者，是非常不道德的行为。 pic.twitter.com/3CZLwNvZuw— 麒哥 (@14z3R) July 31, 2018
It’s tradition among many to buy coffins as soon as they turn 60 and keep them at home, as it’s believed that this brings good fortune and a longer life. One man told SCMP that authorities confiscated coffins from his grandparents who are in their 70s. “These coffins had been stored in ancestral halls and had been with my grandparents for more than 30 years, as they were made by carpenters using wood grown from our own land,” he said. According to the villager, tombstones are also being banned.
江西抢棺运动，简直是禽兽运动：— 活着 (@tangyongtao74) July 31, 2018
The Global Times and Sina Online even reported rumors that authorities would dig up buried corpses and cremate them. The alleged exhumation has been captured on unverified videos on Twitter, but nothing of the sort has been confirmed by the authorities.
Hundreds of coffins were gathered in a parking lot in East China’s Jiangxi Province. Starting at the end of June, villagers in the province turned over 5,000 coffins in a controversial campaign to dissuade locals from traditional burials and promote cremation. pic.twitter.com/G0V3YyLoT6— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) July 30, 2018
An unnamed employee of the Ji'an county crematorium stressed that the authorities still “need the death certificates and family members’ signatures to approve the cremation.”
Authorities insist that people voluntarily handed over 5,800 coffins in Gaoan county, SCMP said, citing Thepaper.cn news portal. Officials in some areas also offered up to 2,000 yuan (US$290) per coffin as compensation. “It was the government’s intention to introduce environmentally friendly funeral practices, but it has gone overboard and created resentment,” Lu Liangbiao, a native of Jiangxi, said.
各地都在抢人才 ，江西省在疯狂“抢棺材”眼下，发生在江西各地的抢棺材运动，不仅活人的棺材要抢，连死人的棺材也不放过。为了推行一个所谓的丧葬改革，抢棺导致的官民矛盾，传统冲突，已让江西各地农村处于水深火热中。但这一切，伴随着这场“破千年旧俗、树一代新风的社会改革”的旗号而变得面目全非。 pic.twitter.com/t4CX7FlOyE— 紅杏爬牆 (@2018you333) July 31, 2018
According to Zhu Wei, a professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, such a reform should be gradually implemented. “The green funeral reform is part of China’s development but should strike a balance with tradition,” Zhu told Global Times, adding that people need up to 20 years “to accept the change.”
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