A 60-year-old Chinese farmer taught himself the law for 16 years in order to sue a company that was polluting his village and won.
Wang Enlin (王恩林) only obtained a primary school education and became a farmer in the northeastern Qiqihar city in Heilongjiang Province, China.
In 2001, Wang realized that the Qiqihar Chemical Group, a state-owned enterprise, had been discharging its chemical wastewater into the local fields, without any treatment.
A document released later said that the company had dumped about 15,000 to 20,000 tons of poly vinyl chloride (PVC), which contain some of the most dangerous and toxic chemicals, around fields every year.
Soon after, Wang submitted an anonymous letter of complaint to the government, but his case was dismissed when he wasn’t able to produce evidence.
“I knew I was in the right, but I did not know what law the other party had broken or whether or not there was evidence,” Wang told the DailyMail.
With insufficient funds to seek legal counsel, Wang took it upon himself to study the law and figure out how he could hold the company accountable for the pollution.
Wang would go the local bookstore and copy the necessary information by hand and eventually compensated the shopkeeper with a bag of corn.
He helped gather evidence for his case and of his fellow neighbors.
In 2015, the case finally went to court and Wang won against the corporation.
The court ordered Qiqihar Chemical Group to compensate 55 households for a total of around 820,000 yuan (approximately USD$112,700).
A document indicated that the use of another chemical, calcium carbide residue, had basically made acres of land unusable.
Wang’s fight is far from finished, as the corporation has filed an appeal and the case has been sent back for retrial.
“We will certainly win. Even if we lose, we will continue to battle,” Wang said, according to the Daily Mail.
Wang has also represented numerous farmers who are inexperienced with the law in land acquisition and other legal matters.
In their free time, Wang and his peers founded an environmental organization, assessing the present state of fields and agriculture.