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Beggars Caged & Penned Up Behind Bars at Nanchang Temple Fair

From The Beijing News:

Metal Bars Pen Up Beggars at Nanchang Temple Fair

Beggars were all sitting within a “metal cage”, with various kinds of basins and bowls placed just outside the bars, waiting for passing tourists to give them money. Yesterday [September 18th], several photographs taken at the Temple Fair of Xishan Town, Xinjian County, Nanchang City, Jiangxi Province, incited controversy.

The Temple Fair of Xishan Town, where the famous Taoist Temple “Wanshou Gong” is located, attracts a few hundred thousands visitors and worshipers during the 8th month of the Chinese Lunar Calendar.

As shown in the photos, one side of the Temple Fair street is sheltered by an awning about 50 meters long, with the shaded area surrounded by metal fences. Inside, more than 100 beggars, male, female, old and young, all sit on the ground, and outside the bars in front of them were all kinds of basins and bowls, many with some small change placed in them. Suspended on the metal fencing above was a sign that read: “Temporary Rescue Shelter”.

As reported by the media, an employee of the Temple Fair said that the people in the fences are all beggars, and enclosing them was to prevent visiting worshipers from being cheated by these “beggars”. As well, there is dedicated staff who will provide them with water and meals.

Yesterday [September 18th], some netizens said that this was “treating the beggars as guilty until proven innocent”, “disrespecting their human dignity, a direct restriction of personal freedom and even suspicion of illegal detainment”.

Response: Penning Them Up Is To Prevent Them from Being Trampled; Entering And Exiting Are Allowed

Yesterday afternoon [September 18th], Mr. Chen who works at the Xishan Town Government Office said that the people who have been penned up are mostly “professional beggars” from other towns, who come to the fair every year. He explained that many of them were old, weak, ill or disabled, making it hard for them to move. Some of them would even lie on the ground, so enclosing them in metal fencing is out of fear that they’ll be stepped on and trampled accidentally.

He also said that they had tried to tell them to leave and tried to drive them away in the past, but they would not leave, so the using metal fencing is also something they had to resort to. Additionally, the Temple Fair organizers have arranged for people to provide water and meals to the beggars. This Temple Fair worker emphasized that the beggars have not actually had their freedom restricted, “For example, if they want to use the bathroom, they are allowed to go outside, but if they want to beg, they have to do so inside the metal fencing”.

On the same day, an employee of Xinjian County Government also said that this was a temporary rescue shelter, and they encouraged beggars to go inside voluntarily. And the open-style shelter was to prevent trampling accidents. However, the local Bureau of Civil Affairs has already given the beggars transportation fare and sent them home.

Comments from Sina Weibo:

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骞骞酱:

With working arms and legs, you still sit there and beg. Shame on you! Good job putting them behind the bars.

tobyhk:

Was this the only way? Couldn’t they have used waist-high railings? Is objecting to this automatically not being objective?

归离离离:

Actually it’s just separating them by metal fencing, not enclosing them in a cage. Plus there are workers helping them by providing the beggars with food and water, and after fencing it off, there’s also an awning that shelters them from the sun and rain, avoiding sun exposure, and at the same time stopping them from pestering visitors or clutching to visitors’ legs.

木_已成粥:

Have an independent thought, okay> What if we changed the headline to: Beggars Not Allowed in Temple Fair. Beggars Say: Still Doing Business As Usual Through the Metal Bars.

还有一年奔头:

Are they being treated as human beings? When we’re treating our own countrymen like this, how can we even talk about taking back the Diaoyu Islands?

把狄俄尼索斯藏在我的乌托邦里:

I was planning to visit Nanchang soon but after seeing this, forget about it, I better not go after all, my heart isn’t strong enough to bear this.

二小姐丶-:

Could a rescue shelter for disabled people be a little bit less like a prison?

小强并非蟑螂:

Seriously? This is what you call a “civilized city”?

德宝成长:

When someone doesn’t even care about face, then there isn’t any shame to talk about. Rights are something that must be fought for.

飞龙在天和小猪:

Humans are not animals.

司文痞子:

Shame! However, I am thinking, does this mean that there is a connection between the temple fair and begging, when a single temple fair attracts so many beggars? What more, look, none of them are lacking arms and legs.

易水的阳光:

Begging is also a business. You’d have to pay a vendor’s booth before entering.

张-菁:

I hope this is fake…

What do you think? Are the official reasons given for this arrangement believable? How do you manage the possibility or problem of professional beggars in the here and now?

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