The Weng'an Mass Incident
Mass Incident in Weng'an (06/29/2008) (Chris Buckley at Reuters)
Rioters torched a police building and vehicles in southwest China on Saturday, in unrest triggered by allegations of a cover-up over a girl's death, according to Chinese accounts on the Internet. The reports of the clash in Weng'an County, Guizhou province, could not be immediately verified and government and police did not answer phone calls in the early hours of Sunday. But the accounts spreading on the Internet, despite China's state censorship, depicted a violent outburst involving thousands of people and lasting several hours.
Residents were enraged by allegations that police had ignored a family's claim that their 15-year old daughter, whose body was found in a river a week ago, appeared to have been raped and possibly murdered, the accounts said. Blogs linked to the popular Sina.com Chinese website (www.sina.com.cn) showed pictures of thousands of people surrounding a police headquarters, riot police guarding the burning shell of the building, and burnt and overturned police vehicles.
The reports come as China seeks to quell any unrest ahead of the Beijing Olympic Games in August. President Hu Jintao has said ensuring stability is a top priority ahead of the Games.
The accounts said a youth alleged to have attacked the girl may have been the son of a senior county official or police officer. "Without conducting a full autopsy, the police believed the girl committed suicide by jumping in a river, and they did not take mandatory measures against the suspect and ignored the family's call for a full autopsy," said one account. "This drew the anger of the family and public and later sparked this conflict."
Repeated calls to the Weng'an County Public Security Bureau were not answered or did not connect, and calls to the county government were not answered after midnight on Saturday. State media carried no reports of the incident. Some Internet reports said school students were at the forefront of the unrest in the poor, mountainous region.
Chinese websites quickly removed many messages about the incident, but others remained accessible. "I hope that the Internet will be able to swiftly oversee the government in uncovering the truth as soon as possible and delivering justice to the family," said one message.
A police station and a county government office building in southwest China's Guizhou Province were assaulted and torched by local people Saturday night, official sources said. The chaos started in Weng'an county seat Saturday afternoon when people who were dissatisfied with the medicolegal expertise on the death of a local girl student gathered at the county government and public security bureau, police said. When officials were handling the case, some people who did not know about the exact context of what had happened were instigated to mob the police station and the office buildings of the county government and Communist Party committee. They smashed and torched many offices and some cars, police said. Provincial public security chief Cui Yadong, who is also member of the standing committee of the provincial Communist Party committee, rushed to the scene to help quiet down the incident. By 2 a.m. Sunday, the county seat was gradually resuming order while lookers-on began to disperse.
(Ming Pao; anti-CNN.com; Qbar) (Warning: Unconfirmed, conflicting stories are being circulated on the Internet, but those photos do not lie)
李树菲) and then tossed her body into the Ximen river aferwards. The police detained the suspects for five hours and released them without charge. The police said that the girl had committed suicide by leaping into the river. The relatives of the girl went to complain to the police. Instead of getting justice, the relatives were assaulted. An uncle of the girl was beaten unconscious and eventually died. The uncle was a teacher himself, and his students went to demonstrate down at the police station. It seems as if the entire population of the county are outside the public security bureau office building.
The son of the Weng'an county deputy mayor and another youth raped and killed a 15-year-old female middle school student named Li Shufei (
Sina.com video link:
For background, see Mass Incident in Weng'an. Subsequently, netizens have been posting to the forums in order to draw attention but their posts are being deleted almost as quickly. The following is a screen capture of the Tianya Miscellaneous Chat page at 17:03 on June 29. 15 out of the 20 posts are related to the Weng'an mass incident. Some of the titles involve subtle distortions of the banned term "Weng'an." For example, the first item says that oveseas media are paying a great of attention of the lives of people living in the plateau of the Yunnan-Guizhou area. The second item says that the people of X'an (Guizhou) are lighting an extra large sacred flame to celebrate the Beijing Olympics. The third item just says, "Delete this!! Your mother's c*nt!" The fourth item says that "when the army arrives in southwestern China, I think something big will happen! I believe that our troops have conscience." The fifth item says that the anti-American posts from the anti-American warriors have all met death -- the revolution has not yet succeeded and our comrades need to keep working. What was that last one? The term "American" is being used for "Chinese"!
Yet Another Version of the Weng'an Mass Incident (06/30/2008) (Boxun)
The name of the female student victim was Li Shufen. She was 15 years old and she was a resident of Yuhua town. At around 6pm on June 21, Li Shufen was asked to go out by her classmate Wang Jiao. Li was raped by two young men who killed her and tossed her body into the Simen river. At some time past 11pm that night, some people heard cries for help. At around 12:30am, Wang Jiao called the elder brother of Li Shufen to report that Li Shufen "had committed suicide by jumping into the river."
Li Shufen's elder brother and others went down by the river and saw Wang Jiao standing by the bridge with two men. They found that there was no water in Li's stomach. Given that Li had given no indication of suicidal tendency, they took the three people down to the police station. But at 10am the next morning, the three people were released unconditionally without any interrogation or statement-taking. The police also said that the victim had died by "suicide."
The next day, someone told the relatives of Li Shufen that she had been raped, killed and thrown into the river. The police did not conduct an autopsy and ignored the request from the family to do so. Based upon information provided by local citizens, the Li family found out that Wang Jiao and the two young men were related to the leaders of the county public security bureau, county party committee and provincial party committee. That was why they were released after being detained only eight hours.
On Monday, the forensic doctor said that the cause of death was 'suicide.' The family went to petition at the country party committee office. Li Shufen's uncle who is a teacher at the Yuhua Middle School was assaulted by six plainclothes security guards and subsequently died from the injuries. Li Shufen's aunt was also beaten unconscious. Meanwhile, the parents of Li Shufen guarded the coffin by the Simen river.
According to the godfather of Li Shufen, "The public security bureau sent out people to try to steal the corpse to force a quick interment. When the family relatives refused, they were assaulted. The country mayor and the public security bureau all wanted a quick interment. Many people are on the site ready to defend the corpse. The corpse had been retrieved from the water by the family, but the public security bureau wanted them to say that the fire department retrieved it."
This tragic incident has aroused the anger of the local residents. The students from four Weng'an middle schools went down to the public security office to petition. The police used force to suppress them, which caused the students and other citizens to set fire to the public security bureau office and more than a dozen police vehicles. The police officers were trapped in the office building, and police reinforcements had to be summoned from elsewhere.
According to Mrs. Liu: "The students went to the government office with protest banners but nobody paid them any attention. Then they went down to the public security bureau building, where the police attacked them with electric prods. The students and the supporting citizens set fire to the dozens of police vehicles as well as the offices."
On this day, several tens of thousand of citizens assembled and protested in front of the public security bureau office, the county government building and the Civic Affairs Bureau building. They set fire to the public security, county government and county party committee buildings.
Mr. Wang who participated in the action said, "The county mayor and the public security bureau director were all in hiding. Several hundred anti-riot policemen were stuck in the building and did not dare to come out. The fire department people were blocked by the people from going in to put out the fires. This time, they saw the power of the people. They learned that when people are not afraid to die, then death cannot be used to threaten them!"
[ESWN Comment: The story above is unverified. Nevertheless this is the most popular story spread around the Internet. A competitive alternative with the rape angle has Wang Jiao taking revenge because Li Shufen refused to pass tips to her during an exam. The big problem here is this.
First, it is known from the photos and videos that a mass incident had occurred in Weng'an county.
Secondly, all mainstream media have been ordered to carry the Xinhua story:
According to the local police, on the afternoon of June 28, certain people were dissatisfied with the inquest on the cause of death for a female students and congregated at the county government and public security bureau offices. During the process of reception by the relevant government officials, certain people instigated the masses who did not know the truth to attack the county public security bureau, county government and county party offices. A small number of criminal elements vandalized the offices and set fire to many offices and vehicles.
Afterwards, the principal leaders of the Guiyang provincial party committee and government issued orders for the matter to be quickly and properly handled. Guiyang provincial Party Standing Committee member, Politics and Law Committee secretary and Public Security Bureau director Cui Yadong arrived at the scene to direct the local party committee and government to calm things down. At around 2am on June 29, the spectators slowly dispersed and the incident did not become bigger. Calm has basically been restored in Weng'an county.
The Xinhua story does not satisfy the need to know the truth. It only created many more doubts. This opened up the space for all sorts of rumors to dominate public opinion which cannot be fully blocked anymore at this time.]
More 'Facts' About The Weng'an Mass Incident (06/30/2008) (Ming Pao)
(1) The uncle of the female student was alleged to have been beaten by the police and later died at the hospital. He is still alive, but in critical condition. He is interviewed by Hong Kong Cable in this YouTube Video:
(2) There were reportedly four attempts by unidentified men to snatch the body of the female student. Alternately, the body of the female student was given a quick autopsy in which her internal organs were removed to destroy the evidence. In fact, the body is still resting in a refrigerated coffin by the river awaiting an autopsy.
Yet Another Another Version of the Weng'an Mass Incident (06/30/2008) (DWnews)
Today, I read a Xinhua report which was vague and misleading. I have heard the story from a fellow student who was an eyewitness.
The dead female student was a Form 3 student attending the Weng'an County Number Three Middle School in Yuhua town, Weng'an county, Guizhou province. To study at the school, she rented a room near the gas station on the north side of the county city.
This female student took her middle school exams this year with excellent results. She died for a reason that you may find it unimaginable -- during the exams, she refused to let three male students copy her answers. In revenge, the three male students raped her and then pushed her into the Simen river where she drowned.
That night, people tried to locate her body but they were unsuccessful. The next day, the police retrieved the body and arrested the three murderers. But one of them has family connections. When the body was brought out of the river, there were many spectators. The parents of the murderer called a certain department head at the Guizhou provincial level, and this person then issued an order. The next day, the Weng'an county police released the three murderers. This was how the mass incident got started, so that the police had to scramble on top of the roof while the masses aimed firecrackers at them. My fellow students asw more than two dozen police vehicles vandalized and set on fire. Even the fire truck got vandalized.
An additional point was that the female student was not murdered by another female student. The three male murderers asked another female student to get the victim to come out. The parents of the murderer addressed the department heard as "Department head Jiang."
My fellow student said that the police did not do anything wrong in terms of how they handled the matter. The main issue was with "Department head Jiang." Such was the immediate assessment by my fellow student based upon his personal experience. But since then, the police had taken the wrong actions during the long confrontation.
So far, family elders have been assaulted. It is not true that family relatives were beaten to death. Also, it is not true that the victim was murdered by another female student named Wang Jiao. It is not true that the victim was gang-raped by the son of the deputy county mayor and associates. If someone has to be investigated, it is "department head Jiang."
Signal-To-Noise Ratio (06/30/2008) With respect to the Weng'an mass incident, I have so far translated the following versions:
网特)." These are supposed to be professional spies who are paid by anti-China hostile forces to publish unfavorable information about China. For example, some of the posts mentioned that the People's Liberation Army has been dispatched to Weng'an with tanks and artillery, with the hint of a Tiananmen-like massacre to follow. Immediately, the other netizens reacted by pointing that these posts are coming from "Internet special agents." The netizens want to draw a very clear line: they may be protesting against what is happening in Weng'an but they will not serve the purpose of the anti-China hostile forces. This is very clear.
- Mass Incident in Weng'an
- Yet Another Version of the Weng'an Mass Incident
- More 'Facts' About The Weng'an Mass Incident
- Yet Another Another Version of the Weng'an Mass Incident
There is plenty more versions, variations and recombinations out there. Out of these versions arise two interesting phenomena. They are not necessarily new, but they are quite apparent this time.
The first phenomenon has to do with hydrological engineering. Yes, HYDROLOGICAL ENGINEERING! Many of the current crop of central government leaders are technocrats with engineering background. As such, they must understand that public opinion is water that can carry the ship as well as turn it over. The point about hydrological engineering is not to build dams to hold the water back because there will be a catastrophic dam break one day that might bring down the entire system. Instead, the point should be about controlling and redirecting the awesome power of nature in less harmful ways down selected channels.
In the case of the Weng'an mass incident, the major portals were deleting the related posts as quickly as possible. At Tianya Forum, it was estimated that a Weng'an-related post has an average lifetime of 15 seconds before being deleted by the administrators. That was supposed to be a record speed. The same thing was happening at Sina.com, Sohu.com, Baidu, etc. So this was building massive dams all over the map which builds up a tremendous pressure. Where was the pressure release point? You may be amazed that it was over at the Xinhua Forum. The webmasters posted the official Xinhua news story on the forum. That does not help in itself because Chinese netizens think that this Xinhua story was vague and misleading. However, the webmasters allowed the comments to run freely. This meant that the Xinhua posts became the meeting points of all those who want to talk about the Weng'an incident but could not do so elsewhere. Although that post did not contain any news information (such as photos and videos), it was a place for people to vent their outrage. As a result, Xinhua got a record-setting number of visitors who were very appreciative. Is this the plan for the future? You'll find out at the next mass incident (and there will be many).
The second phenomenon was the amount of noisy chaff released. On one hand, there is the legendary "50-cent gang." These are supposed to be professional Internet writers who get paid 0.50 RMB for every post favorable to the government position. When yet another version of the Weng'an mass incident gets published as being the ultimate truth, the author is accused of being a member of the "50-cent gang" who is trying to confuse the public. Indeed, if you read through enough versions, you will probably throw up your hands and decide that you don't know what the truth is anymore. Instead, you change your investigation to questioning the motives of the people who are producing these versions.
On the other hand, there is the legendary "Internet special agent (
Government Reactions To The Weng'an Mass Incident (07/01/2008) (Xinhua via Daqi.com)
On June 30, the Guizhou provincial party secretary and provincial people's congress standing committee chairman Shi Zhongyuan rushed to Weng'an county to personally supervise the handling of the 6.28 incident ... At around 11am, Secretary Shi Zhongyuan arrived at the scene of the incident; he went deep among the people to understand the situation; he met with militia and armed police officers. At around noon, Secretary Shi Zhongyuan left the scene and held a meeting with the relevant Weng'an county leaders; he summoned the school principals and education department director to listen to their reprots; he invited more than 100 county people's congress delegates and political consultative conference members to attend a forum. They representatives enthusiastically condemned the criminal elements whose smashing, vandalizing, looting and arson have seriously damaged the images of Weng'an county and Guizhou province, the excellent social and economic development of Weng'an county and disrupted the unity and harmony of the county and the province. The representatives asked the Party Committee and the government to severely punish the saboteurs and defend social stability and harmony. At 7pm, Shi Zhongyuan proceeded to another meeting in Yongyang town with veteran cadres, representatives of the masses, businesses operators, middle school students and teachers and other eyewitnesses of the mass incident.
Shi Zhongyuan pointed out the 6.28 incident was a simple affair that a small number of people with ulterior motives manage to manipulate and leverage, with the direct participation of organized crime forces, to provoke and challenge the Party and the government publicly. It was a bad situation with serious damages, leading to huge property and economic losses while also affecting the stability and image of Guizhou. Afterwards, the Party central and the State Council paid a high degree of attention. Secretary General Hu Jintao issued an important directive; the Politburo standing committee member and Central Political and Legal Committee secretary Zhou Yongkong issued two important directives; Minister of Public Security Meng Jianzhu telephoned multiple times to command the frontline actions ... The provincial Party Commitee and government carried bout the spirit of the important directives from the central government leaders and calmed things down with the restoration of stability being the top priority ...
The above Xinhua article is just about unreadable because it is just another stream of homilies without content. Is this how people really think and talk? What exactly are these 'important directives' from the central government leaders? Wouldn't you want to do?
A disturbance took place in Weng'an county, Guizhou province. It is said that Chinese president Hu Jintao has questioned why the disturbance took place. According to informed sources, Hu Jintao personally asked about this incident and what to know, "Why did such a small criminal case trigger such a large-scale mass incident?" In his directive, Hu Jintao demanded that the local government should calm down the demonstrators and protect social stability; at the same time, the directive asked that the local Guizhou media should actively report the affair and lead public opinion, without blocking information from going to the outside.
The 6.28 incident in Weng'an (Guizhou) was defined by the Chinese Communist as "smashing, vandalizing, looting and arson" and thte local public security, armed police and armies imposed heavy suppression. The news is that there were many deaths. At present, the entire county and the surrounding towns are under martial law.
According to known internal information and published reports, this massacre was personally ordered by Hu Jintao and supervised by Zhou Yongkong and others. The murders were carried out by Guizhou officials and the locally based soldiers. Someday, the 6.28 Weng'an (Guizhou) massacre will be vindicated and the people will have already recorded the names of those Chinese Communist officials who ordered and participated in the massacre beginning with Chinese Communist Party secretary-general Hu Jintao ...
[ESWN comment: The last report above shows why Boxun is an example of what the Chinese government refers to as "hostile overseas forces." Nobody else but the "hostile overseas forces" and the "Internet special agents" have talked about a massacre carried out by military soldiers. Boxun cites anonymous "internal information" which it is very unlikely to have access to (as in, what insider would speak to a 'hostile overseas force'?) and does not name the 'published reports' (as in, Epoch Times? Radio Free Asia? BBC? New York Times?).]
Related Link: Wengˇan Riots: How the state media hurts China Blog for China
Yet Another Another Another Version of the Weng'an Mass Incident (07/01/2008) (CReaders.net)
I am a Weng'an resident and I am one of the few people who know the entire story from beginning to end. My information comes from official sources, civilian sources and even people who have ulterior motives.
At just past 8pm on June 21, Weng'an middle school Form 4 female student Li Shufen and apprentices Liu Yantao and Chen Guangquan from a certain aluminum alloy factory dined at a friend's place. At 11:30pm, the four went down by the Simen river. Li Shufen sat on the bridge and said: "If I jump down from here, will I die?" The other three people thought she was joking and did not pay too much attention. She said: "If I don't die after I jump, I will try to lead a good life afterwards." At that time, Chen Guangquan was chatting with another girl and Liu Yantao was doing push-ups. At 00:10pm June 22, there was the sound of a splash. The three looked and saw that Li Shufen had jumped into the river. Liu Yantao jumped in immediately after her, and then Chen Guangquan did so too. But by the time that they got in, Li Shufen was nowhere to be seen. Liu Yantao called aloud for help too. So Chen could only save Liu first and then they called the police. Half an hour later, the fire brigade retrieved the body of Li Shufen.
The Weng'an county medical doctor determined that Li Shufen had no signs of physical trauma except for a mild injury on her forearm from brushing with the sand in the bottom of the river. There were no signs of sexual violence, so that there was no possibility of rape. The results of the medical exam and the verdict of the public security bureau were handed over to the parents of Li Shufen. At the time, the parents did not object.
On June 24, through the insistence of other family members, the parents took the body of Li Shufen in front of the public security bureau and demanded that Liu Yantao and Chen Guangquan be arrested for raping and killing Li Shufen (see WengˇAn riots: The familyˇs petition). Since there was no factual basis, the public security bureau officers refused. According to information, the Li family wanted to extort money from the families of the three persons (Liu Yantao, Chen Guangquan and the other female student) and this was the excuse.
At 10am on June 25, Li Shufen's uncle led the family members to the office of the Criminal Investigative Bureau on the third floor of the county public security bureau building. The officer on duty was Zhang Ming, who asked them: "What are you here for?" The uncle said: "Nothing. Can't we just come in?" Zhang Ming said: "This is an office. If you don't have business here, please leave." The uncle refused and Zhang Ming attempted to push him out. But as soon as Zhang Ming touched the uncle, the latter fell down on the floor and screamed: "The police is beating me! Save me!" The aunt and another woman took off their high-heel shoes and hit Zhang Ming with them. Zhang Ming considered his own status and did not fight back. As a result, he suffered some minor injuries. Other police officers heard the commotion and arrived to restrain the two women. A video-taped interrogation of the three individuals was made in the presence of an education department leader. The uncle admitted that he and his family had assaulted Zhang Ming (there is a signed statement as well as videotape as evidence).
At 16:30 on June 25, the uncle completed his testimony and left the building. Outside the public security bureau office, he was assaulted by the friends of Liu Yantao and Chen Guangquan. (This was based upon the testimony of the uncle and other family relatives in the form of signed statements and videotapes). The uncle was admitted to the Weng'an County Hospital, where he was diagnosed with a mild concussion.
At 6am on June 28, the uncle and other family members placed the body of Li Shufen by the Simen river with big-character posters to appeal to the central government. All those who wish to view the body was charged 5 RMB apiece, and almost 20,000 RMB was collected.
On the afternoon of June 28, the uncle and his sister (who was a teacher at the Number Three Middle School in Weng'an) instigated the students (who are as young as eight years old) who did not know the truth to march and demonstrate in order to magnify the impact. But certain criminal elements used the opportunity to gather almost 10,000 people together. These criminal elements prepared rocks, bricks and gasoline and went to the public security bureau building where they smashed and burned all the police vehicles in front. They also set fire to the first floor office and destroyed files and computers. Several dozen police officers were injured, including one in critical condition. The first three floors of the buildings were in flames. The rioters then turned to attack the armed police, whose leader fired one shot in the air and stopped the mob. The rioters then backed out of the public security bureau building and turned their attention to the Weng'an county government building, where they smashed all the cars and set fire to the courtyard. Next the rioters turned their attention to the private cars parked in the basement garage of the Civic Affairs Bureau. The rioters went over to the Telecommunications and Postal Building and destroyed the communication structures.
From start to end, none of the militia or armed police officers was seen using violence.
I personally witnessed these incidents and I am willing to accept legal responsibility for what I wrote. But I would like to say a few more things.
1. According to the uncle, Liu Yantao and Chen Guangquan are family members of people working in the Weng'an county public security bureau and that was why no full autopsy was conducted. (Later on, one of the two was said to be the son of a deputy mayor of Weng'an county; this morning, he had become the son of the provincial public security bureau director). The Guizhou provincial county public security bureau has done its own investigation and their findings are identical to the initial one. There is no possibility of secret help to Liu and Chen, who were found to be farmer children presently working as apprentices at an aluminum alloy factory. Therefore, the facts are inconsistent with the allegations.
2. According to the uncle, Li Shufen was raped and then tossed into the river. Three separate medical exams showed that the deceased had not been sexually violated -- she was still a virgin. So how could she have been gang-raped? Besides, nobody heard any cries of help or sounds of struggle that night.
3. According to certain people with ulterior motives, the armed police assaulted the masses. As for 23:00 on June 29, no Weng'an hospital has come across a single person who was injured on June 28. Instead, the hospitals have admitted more than 30 seriously injured police officers. More than 100 other police officers had their wounds treated and bandaged and then released. You can check out all the photos on the Internet and there are no scenes of the police officers attacking the rioters.
4. If this was just dissatisfaction with the police action, why were the government, political consultative conference and telecommunications buildings also set on fire? Why vandalize the private vehicles parked in the underground garage?
5. You have all seen the photos on the Internet. These photos were of high resolution and did not come from mobile camphones. Many of them were taken from above. How do these photos come about from a suddenly breaking incident? Also, the incident took place at the center of the county town. Where did the crowd find all the rocks and bricks? Where did they get the gasoline and machetes? All of this shows that this was a well-organized, pre-planned riot.
6. This incident is analogous to the 3.14 Tibet incident in that certain people who did not know the truth were incited to "hit, smash and loot." The uncle and the aunt could not have started something on this scale. I cannot preclude the possibility that organized criminal elements are involved in the planning and execution behind the scene.
The above is based upon the facts that I experienced personally. If you disagree, please provide your counter-evidence. Or else you should not mislead people with rumors to further the interests of those with ulterior motives.
The Official Guizhou Provincial Version of the Weng'an Mass Incident (07/01/2008) (Dayoo)
According to the Guizhou provincial public security bureau information office spokesperson, the Weng'an county public security bureau received a call at 00:27 on June 22, 2008 that someone had jumped into the river. The command center ordered the Yongyang town police station to send militia police officers to the scene and also notified the fire department. The militia police arrived at the scene and began to search for the body. Since it was dark, it was around 3am that they finally fetched the body of the drowned girl. The emergency medical crew determined that the girl was already dead. The police then interrogated the three persons (Liu, Chen and Wang) who made the call to 110 (the police telephone number). The police learned that the drowned girl was named Li Shufen, who was born in July 1991 and is a Form 2 student at the Number 3 Middle School in Weng'an county. The Yongyang police also inspected the scene, examined the body and conducted the investigative work.
According to the investigation: At around 20:00 on June 21, Li Shufen and her girlfriend Wang went out. They had dinner along with Wang's boyfriend Chen and Chen's friend Liu. Afterwards, they strolled down to the bridge over Simen river to chat. During the chat, Li Shufen suddenly told Liu: "I might as well as kill myself by jumping into the river. But if I don't die, I will try to lead a good life afterwards." Liu immediately grabbed Li and stopped her from doing so. About 10 minutes later, Chen said that he was leaving. Liu saw that Li had calmed down and so he began to do push-ups. By the third one, Liu suddenly heard Li said: "I'm going" and then she jumped into the river. Liu jumped in after her immediately. Wang phoned Chen and then she began to cry for help. Chen raced back to the riverside and jumped in to help search for Li. Liu was exhausted, so Chen had to drag him back to shore first. Wang and Liu called the police and notified Li's elder brother.
According to information, Chen is a resident of Yanmen brigade, Naxiang village, Caotang town, Weng'an county. He is presently working at a paper factory in Weng'an county. His parents are villagers of the Yanmen brigade, Naxiang village, Caotang town, Weng'an county.
Liu comes from the same villager as Chen and is presently working at a paper factory in Weng'an county. His parents are villagers of the Yanmen brigade, Naxiang village, Caotang town, Weng'an county.
Wang is a Form 2 student at the Number 3 Middle School in Weng'an County. Her parents are villagers of the Jiajiabo bridage, Jiajiabo village, Tianwen town, Weng'an county.
According to the investigation conducted by the Weng'an public security bureau, Li Shufen committed suicide by jumping into the river. This was not a criminal case. They informed the family which refused to accept the conclusion because they believed that this was a rape case. They asked for a DNA analysis. On the afternoon of June 5, the southern Guizhou public security bureau sent a medical examiner to conduct another examination and the conclusion was that this was death by drowning. At the time, the family accepted the conclusion. However, they indicated that they would not bury the Li Shufen yet and they asked the public security bureau to order Wang Jiao, Liu Yanchao and Chen Guangquan to pay restitution to the amount of 500,000 RMB.
On June 26, the family of Li Shufen said that they agreed with the mediation recommendation by the county workgroup and promised to sign an agreement on June 28. On June 28 at 16:00, the family invited more than 300 people to march in the streets of Weng'an with banners. This was a Saturday and there were many people in the street, some of whom began to follow the procession. At 16:30, the marchers assembled in front of the public security building. The police set up a police line, but the marchers in front got emotionally excited. At the incitement of a small number of people, some criminal elements threw water bottles, rocks and bricks at the police. They broke through the wall of police officers and charged into the first floor lobby, smashing the equipment, setting fire to the vehicles and assaulting the police and firemen. They grabbed the fire nozzles and they cut up the fire hoses. The firemen were forced to withdraw. At about 20:00, the criminal elements hit, vandalized, looted and burned the Weng'an county Party and government office buildings. They even charged at the county detention center. The whole incident took almost seven hours.
On July 1, after repeated explanations to the family, they agreed for a burial after another medical examination. The body will be unfrozen and the Guizhou provincial procuratorate and the medical examiner will conduct a joint examination.
Public Security Bureau Office Building
Public Security Bureau Office Building
Weng'an County Party and Government Building
Weng'an County Party and Government Building
Weng'an County Party and Government Building
"I Am Not Dead Yet" (07/02/2008) In The Weng'an Mass Incident, rumors abounded. Prominently featured at first was the story about the uncle who went to complain at the police station and was beaten to death by the police. The uncle was a teacher and the protest launched his students triggered the riot on June 28. Later, Hong Kong media interviewed this uncle in a hospital and dispelled the rumor of his death. Then another rumor said that the uncle has been removed from the hospital and presumably placed under police arrest. Here is the most recent interview with this uncle as published in Guizhou Daily.
At 13:30 on July 1, our reporter interviewed Weng'an county Yuhua Town Middle School teacher Li Xiuzhong at the Weng'an People's Hospital. Li Xiuzhong is the uncle of the Form 3 Weng'an County Number Three Middle School student Li Shufen. At the time of the interview, Li Xiuzhong was in bed. He was very angry about the rumors of his death at the hands of the militia police: "I am not dead yet. Please do not spread rumors."
He told the reporter: "Late night on June 22, I received the news that my niece Li Shufen had died in the Simen River of the county city. I immediately went to the scene to help recover the body. After the body was recovered, the county public security bureau notified me to go down. I entered the office of militia police officer Zhang Ming. He was working and he impatiently yelled at me: "What are you doing here?" Due to the recent death of my niece, I was impatient and I said: "I've come to fool around." Zhang Ming yelled: "Get out!" Then he came over to push me out. There was a clash. Afterwards, the Education Department asked me to go down to the police station so that they can find out what happened. Afterwards, I left the police station. When I reached the insurance company office, six unidentified persons suddenly appeared and assaulted me. I called 110 and the police came and took me to the hospital for treatment. Since I was seriously injured, I was kept in the hospital during the whole time. I had no idea that there was a demonstration that led to hitting, vandalizing and arson. On the day of the incident, my family members told me that nine out of ten people in the street thought that the police had beaten me death and that as many as 10,000 people were seeking justice for me and Li Shufen."
Li Xiuzhong said: "As a member of the family of the deceased, I never imagine that things would turn out this way. I believe that my family members would never hit, vandalize and burn the county party, county government and public security bureau offices. I did not want to see instances of hitting, vandalism and arson. My family members knew that I was still alive, and they would never say that I was dead. They knew that the public security people would not beat me to get a confession and there had only been an accidental clash. They knew that I was assaulted by unidentified persons outside of the public security bureau office. They would never say that I was beaten to confess."
"I believe that the matter had been expanded and manipulated by certain people with ulterior motives," said Li Xiuzhong. "I am thankful to the leaders, reporters and citizens who care about me. The provincial public security bureau, county education department and other leaders have visited me at the hospital. With the good care from the hospital, I am feeling a lot better physically. I heard that the militia police officer who clashed me was suspended for fifteen days. The public security bureau is investigating the incident of my being assaulted by unidentified persons. I believe that the government will be fair and just in how they handled the hitting, vandalism and arson, and give justice to those criminal elements, my attackers as well as the masterminds. I believe that the government will deal with the case of my niece appropriately. I hope that she will be buried in peace. I hope that people will not believe in any rumors."
More Photos From Weng'an (07/02/2008) (QNBS.net via ifeng.com)
(China Daily) No officials' kin involved in girl's death in Guizhou. By Fu Jing. July 2, 2008.
Police on Tuesday reiterated that no officials' relatives were responsible for the death of a girl that sparked violence in Weng'an county of Guizhou province on Saturday.
About 30,000 people torched the local public security bureau and government buildings and 42 vehicles, alleging that the children of some officials had raped and killed the 17-year-old Li Shufen. The mayhem that lasted seven hours left 150 people, including policemen, injured, for which 59 people had been arrested till on Tuesday. The burned vehicles have been removed from the government complex, and life is returning to normal in parts of the town.
Police insist that Li, a student of No 3 Middle School in Weng'an, committed suicide by jumping into a river on June 21 because she was unhappy with life. Her body was found floating the next day. The three persons she last met were members of farmers' families, Wang Xingzheng, a spokesman for the provincial public security bureau, told a news briefing last night.
She had gone on an outing with her 21-year-old boyfriend surnamed Chen, and two other friends, an 18-year-old boy surnamed Liu and a 16-year-old girl surnamed Wang on June 21, the spokesman said. She had told them about her feelings, which her friends did not take very seriously, Wang Xingzheng said. But while they were busy with something else, she jumped into the river. They tried to save her, but when they realized it was impossible to do so, they called police, the spokesman said.
The provincial government has sent 10 officers and forensic experts to re-investigate the death. And Wang Daixing, the forensic scientist, who conducted a post mortem on Li's body, said that she had not been raped.
Zhou Guoxiang, deputy police chief of Weng'an public security bureau, denied rumors that policemen had harassed Li's relatives when they had come to seek justice from authorities. He, however, said that an unidentified man beat up Li's uncle on a street, and police are trying to find out who the attacker was.
Shi Zongyuan, Party chief of Guizhou, said on Monday that some people with ulterior motives had incited the mob into frenzy. Some of those people were gangsters, and had taken part in the violence. Shi was in Weng'an to direct officials and police to restore normalcy, and said those responsible for the mayhem should get strict punishment.
It was the local officials' shortcoming that angered the people, he said, and criticized them for letting the situation get out of hand. "We must learn a lesson from these problems." He said there have to be "deep-seated" reasons behind the girl's death and the violence that followed.
Officials had not paid due attention to disputes over mines and relocation of people for construction projects for quite a long time, Shi said. This may have bred discontent among the residents. He met with local representatives, including retired officials, business people, students and witnesses on Monday evening, and stressed the importance of social stability. "We must put maintaining social harmony and stability on top of the agenda."
The county public security bureau has appealed to people to maintain order.
Reporters And Common Folks In Weng'an (07/06/2008) (YZZK)
At around 8am on the morning of July 1 more than one hundred persons were already gathered around the refrigerated coffin that held the body of Li Shufen. When they learned that we were Hong Kong reporers, they surrounded us to tell us about what has been happening in Weng'an during the past week. "Hong Kong reporters serve some use. Our local newspapers are useless, because officials protect each other."
There were old, middle-aged, young people and children in the crowd. They wore peasant clothes, t-shirts, leather shoes, slippers, ... the talk went back and forth. Some people were angry and emoted; other people were only here to enjoy the spectacle and they laughed as they spoke. "We are Weng'an citizens not related to the deceased. We spontaneously come here to watch over the refrigerated coffin out of sympathy."
"The body was retrieved by the uncle of Li Shufen in the middle of the night, and the fire department showed up after daybreak on the next morning. But the broadcasts are saying that the fire department recovered the body." "There were signs of injuries on the body. There were strangulation marks on the throat. On the night of the incident, nearby peasants heard cries for help." "This was a rape scene. There was blood here. The public security people arrived and destroyed the evidence."
This is a news story that is vey exciting, rich and fully of legends. So we asked: "Which one of you personally witnessed the recovery of the body? the beating of the uncle? the blood at the rape scene? the removal of the internal organs during the autopsy?" Everybody became quiet for a while. Finally, a Ms. Zhang in front laughed and said: "We all heard about it. We did not see it." "But all officials are crooked. When the son of the director of the public security bureau murders someone, he is not punished!" she added.
As we left, a dozen citizens walked with us along the side of the Simen river and waited until we got into the taxi and left. "You should take care and leave Weng'an quickly. There are bad people who may want to take revenge on you." The people may not be able to tell right from wrong, but they are not asking for too much. More than one taxi driver told us: "The Li Shufen affair was just the fuse. Many people may not know what the truth is. But public anger has been tremendous during the recent years. Things have calmed down because there are several thousand armed policemen here. If they are not around, the people will go into action again sooner or later."
There are varous civilian versions about the death of Li Shufen: it was a rape-murder; it was revenge; it was a love quarrel. But none of these are backed up by accurate information. Likewise, the government version does not pass either. Nobody has been able to contact the three key persons at the scene: Wang Jiao, Chen Guangquan and Liu Yanchao. Everybody says, "They have disappeared."
More Reports From Weng'an (07/03/2008)
(Journalist Wu Hanpin's blog)
I visited several places this morning, including a hospital. I saw a seven-year-old boy whose left leg was injured. The doctor said that it was a flesh wound and there was no bone damage.
On June 28, this boy took part in the mass incident. A reporter asked him why. He said that he was angry because the police refused to care about the death of a person. Someone asked him who told him to say these things. He said that this was what he saw himself. He said that he went down by the river to look at the refrigerated coffin of the dead girl. Nobody cared either.
I asked him what he did on that day. He said that he was small and could not do the other things. So he only released air from the car tires. I asked him how many car tires did he work on. He answered in his childish voice, "Two."
How did he get injured? He said that he got hurt when the police advanced. He had no idea what caused his injury. He said that there were too many people around him at the time.
His dad was unhappy. He took the boy there to watch what was happening. At first, he held the boy in his arm. But the boy said that he could not see anything and wanted to come down. Once down, he vanished in a flash. The next time the dad saw the boy, it was at the hospital.
I don't know what to say. This matter gave me a lot to think about.
Also on the morning, Guizhou provincial deputy party secretary Wang Fuyu and vice-governor Huang Kongsheng visited the Weng'an 6.28 incident command center to check on the preparations of the report from the working group of seven persons.
These seven people are the Weng'an Number Three Middle School Form 2 student Wu Qing, Weng'an entrepreneur Zhao Chengguo, 82-year-old retired cadre and party member Cheng Wenqing, Weng'an county Yuhua town party disciplinary committee secretary Huang Guoxing, Weng'an county Fire Department comander Huang Wei, Weng'ai county public security bureau police patrol squad commander Huang Cheng and Weng'ai county deputy mayor Xiao Song.
The draft speeches for these seven persons have been repeatedly edited and revised by the Publicity Department. My guess is that the local Publicity Department "interviewed" these individuals first and then wrote their speeches based upon what these said, while adding what needs to be added and deleting what needs to be deleted. I just received a copy of their speeches and some of the content is impenetrable and won't be easily understood by ordinary people.
This morning, the Guizhou provincial leaders listened to the speeches once and gave it a "high rating." Tomorrow, these people will go to Guiyang City and deliver the speeches again.
(Guiyang Daily via 163.com)
At 7:00pm on June 30, this reporter interviewed some of the eyewitnesses of the 6.28 incident. They told the reporter what they saw and heard.
Villager Peng Qinggui: I personally saw how the county party, the county government, the public security bureau, the treasury and the civic affairs bureau buildings being set on fire. It was a terrifying situation. The decent people of Weng'an know that it is a crime to smash car and set fire to buildings so they would not be doing that. It is just some criminal elements who used the drowning death of Li Shufen to incite the crowd to riot. Based upon the situation, there was about a couple of hundred people who were leading the the looting, vandalism and arson. They usually charged at the sound of long whistles and they retreated at the sound of short whistles.
Villager Chen Qingshu: At the time of the incident, I saw a few teenagers throwing rocks at the police and the building as well as setting off fireworks. I was very worried. I asked them why they were throwing rocks. The children said that they had no idea and they were doing this because others were doing it. This showed that they did not realize the causes or consequences of the incident and they were just feeding off rumors. This showed that the crowd and the students were being used.
Entrepreneur Zhao Chenggui (the boss of a hair salon): At around 4pm that afternoon, I had just finished talking business. Suddenly my family called me to say that up to ten thousand people are causing trouble at the county public security bureau building. It went through my head immediately that the Toyota Corolla that I parked in front of the public security building was doomed. So I rushed over to the scene and saw that my vehicle was resting upside down. Someone had punctured the gasoline tank and set a fire. I saw that there must be 10,000 spectators. Several hundred people were ready to charge into the lobby of the public security building. Several dozen militia policemen had formed a police line. Several dozen people threw rocks and bricks at these militia policemen, some of whom were bleeding from the assault. But the militia policeman were restrained and stuck to their discipline of never retaliating with words or actions. Finally, when the bricks, rocks and steel rods got too much, the militia policemen retreated into the lobby. At the sound of long whistles, two to three hundred people attacked; at the sound of short whistles, they retreated. I saw many people going into the public security bureau building and coming out with confiscated restricted weapons such as machetes and daggers. After the militia policemen were forced to retreat to the second floor, a few dozen people hauled two police vehicles up the steps in front of the entrance. Someone smashed the car windows, placed large numbers of file documents taken from the offices on the car seats and set off fires. The flames soared high while the black smoke rose into the sky. The entire public security bureau building was on fire. The crowd then charged at the county government building which they set on fire with the liquid gas that they brought. People went through the first floor to the fifth floor, emptying drawers, smashing desks and throwing computers on the ground. Someone looted the computer CPU boxes and monitors. Then they set the county party office building on fire. The sky was red from the fire. Several dozen armed police officers came to defend the county party office and county government office buildings. But a group of people with machetes and iron rods attacked them and made them back off.
A Weng'an High School student: At 4:30pm on that afternoon, we were still taking an examination. After the exam was over, we heard that there was an incident at the county. When I and my fellow students arrived at the scene, the looting, vandalism and arson had already begun. We did not understand the truth, but we wanted to watch.
Provincial People's Congress and County People's Congress representative Cao Dongmei: I did not think that this was a case of middle school students causing trouble. This was not as simple as people speaking out on behalf of the dead person. This incident was exploited by persons with ulterior motives, with the possible direct participation of organized crime figures. At the scene, I observed that someone was directing the charges and retreats by blowing long and short whistles. When the students and the masses moved up, the 200 rioters backed off. When the students and the masses got quiet, these people moved up to create disturbance. Sometimes, the noise was too loud and people could not hear the sound of the whistles. So these people watched the hand signal from their leader. When I told the students not to charge, one of the persons in the group told me fiercely, "If you dare to dissuade them again, I'll beat you to death."
7-year-old boy Wang XX participated in releasing air from car tires: At around 1pm on July 1, the reporter interviewed Wang XX at the Weng'an County People's Hospital. At the time, his father Wang Huafei was tending after him. The young boy was lying on the bed. When asked why he was releasing air from car tires, he said: "I heard that people were creating a scene over at the county government building. So I went with my father to see what was going on. Since there were too many people standing in front of us, I could not see anything. My father put me on top of the engine hood of a tricycle. When my father was not paying attention, I sneaked out into the crowd. Then two adults told me to release the air out of car times. So I went and released the air out of two car tires. When asked how he got hurt, he said: "The police moved up and the people retreated. I got hurt."
Detained troublemaking youth Huang X: At 2pm, the reporter went to the Weng'an county detention center and interviewed 13-year-old Huang X who had just graduated from elementary school. An armed police officer brought him into the courtyard. He cried and said: "At just past 4pm on June 28, I was at the school entrance and someone said that many people are causing a scene at the county government office. Out of curiosity, I went over there to see. I saw many people throwing rocks to smash the windows at the county government and public security bureau buildings. Someone was calling to dare the police on top of the public security bureau building to come down. Several dozen adults led the way by overturning cars. Someone else was settling the cars on fire. The people who set the fires were armed with steel rods. I did not know what was going on, but I joined them. I pushed at one car. I did not overturn it, and I did not set it on fire. Afterwards, I was scared and I hid on the roof for a while.
(Xinhua Net) Photos from June 28, 2008.
Why Is It So Easy To Not Know The Truth? (07/04/2008) (Rose Luqiu)
A girlfriend of mine who only cares about Korean serial dramas and cosmetics but not current affairs angrily told me: "Have you heard about the Guizhou affair? The son of a department chief raped many girls, but the government took no action. So several tens of thousands of people took to the streets to protest." At first, I thought that there was a new incident in Guizhou. After listening to her some more, I was sure that she was talking about the Weng'an incident. I tried to explain to her, but I found out that she was actually not interested in the truth. The reason why she was angry was that she found that this piece of hearsay once again reaffirmed her fixed opinion about local governments in mainland China.
When faced with this kind of hearsay, a journalist would not accept it lightly. Instead, it may ignite an interest to investigate the case. After all, the videos and photos on the Internet are not hearsay. As for the cause, it requires a third-party confirmation. Another type of person who would not accept it lightly are those who are used to listening to hearsays and prefer to use their own judgment and thinking to reach a conclusion. These people hold a cautious attitude and pay continual attention to the developments. After all, rumors usually contain too many flaws, some of which are not reasonable. Of course, sometimes the rumors get confirmed and it only makes it worse.
The people who readily believe it are like my girlfriend. They have a pre-existing credibility issue with the local governments in mainland China. Therefore, they will believe it anything bad because this re-affirms the fact that the local governments are bad. These people hold such attitudes out of a strong sense of justice and sympathy. And then there are some people who will believe whatever they hear. There are also those who want to have a good time whether the activity is legal or not, because if other people are doing it, then it must be alright.
Hong Kong media paid close attention to this affair. Many reporters went to Weng'an immediately, even though they did not have any investigative reporting. Even so, the Hong Kong media interviewed the uncle of the deceased girl. His comments on camera and the follow-up mainland media reports provided at least two credible facts. First, the uncle had not been beaten to death. Secondly, he was beaten by unidentified persons. Another confirmed fact was that the local citizens have been asked to be careful about what they say. It is somewhat abnormal to demand that citizens be careful about what they say. I frequently receive letters and telephone calls to ask about certain injustices, as if the petition system does not exist. This is also somewhat abnormal, because this leads one to wonder why these people could not count on the administrative and judicial systems and had to place their hopes on the media (and public opinion) instead.
It does not matter how dissatisfied you are, because it is definitely against the law to take those kinds of actions (namely, hitting, vandalizing, looting, arson, etc). As the Guizhou provincial government official said, it is necessary to reflect on the underlying structural causes about why these people employed such extreme methods. If this was a case of organized crime challenging the authority of the government, then two questions are raised. First of all, how did the government leave room for organized crime to grow and flourish? Secondly, does the government have the ability to go after organized crime? But if this case was an explosion of public discontent and distrust, then this case rose out of other problems (and not organized crime). This kind of distrust is like the distrust of my girlfriend. The distrust of the local citizens is the accumulation of many mundane issues in daily life over time. To regain their trust, it is necessary to make them feel that the government is there to serve the people. Of course, after the local citizens regain their trust, the prejudices of people like my girlfriend will also change gradually over time because there will be fewer biased rumors to go around.
Even if organized crime was involved in the Weng'an incident, the local government cannot avoid its share of responsibility. It was dereliction of duty on the part of the local government that organized crime had the power and opportunities. Some people may use the excuse that people are dumb and ignorant, but even so it is still the responsibility of the government (to educate people about civics and law).
Wang Jiao, Chen Guangquan and Liu Yanchao Meet The Press (07/06/2008) In the item below, the YZZK reporters wrote: Nobody has been able to contact the three key persons at the scene: Wang Jiao, Chen Guangquan and Liu Yanchao. Everybody says, "They have disappeared." Not so. The three have been reached by Guizhou Commercial News (via China News; China News)
Yesterday noon, our reporter went to Naxiang village, Caotang town, Weng'an county. After some runaround, the reporter managed to locate the Yanmen brigade where Liu Yanchao and Chen Guangquan belonged. "The Chen and Liu families are all respectable farmers whose standard of living belongs to the lower class in his village," said the village party secretary Wen Wenchuan.
Liu Yanchao's father Liu Yangfu had gone to Weng'an county city. With the help of villagers, the reporter found Liu Yanchao's mother Xu Zhengying who was working in the fields.
According to Xu Zhenghing, at around 5pm on June 27, Liu Yanchao returned home from Weng'an county city. That evening, Liu Yanchao informed his parents that he and some friends were playing by the river on June 22 and one of the friend Li Shufen suddenly jumpted into river and drowned. He also jumped into the river to save Li Shufen. "But for Chen Guangquan, I might have drowned as well." Around noon on June 29, the public security bureau criminal investigation squad called and asked Liu Yanchao to be interrogated. "At the time, his dad accompanied him. I have not seen my son since. His dad has called me and told me not to worry because he is with our son," said Xu Zhengying.
THe reporter asked Xu Zhengying about contacting her son. She said that she could try. At 2:22pm, Xu Zhengying used the home telephone to call Liu Yanchao's mobile telephone. "Chao-son! Where are you?" The phone call got through and Xu Zhengying got excited. "I'm staying in the office of the detention center. You don't have to worry." After learning that her son was safe, Xu Zhengying breathed a sigh of relief. When Liu Yanchao heard that a reporter wanted to interview him, he said, "We can speak by phone. We don't have to meet."
By telephone, Liu Yanchao told the reporter what happened. At around 20:00 on June 21, he and Chen Guangquan were with fellow student Qin ing at a rented room in Weng'an. During that time, he rode a motorcycle to pick up Li Shufen and Wang Jiao. Then He, Li Shufe, Wang Jiao, Chen Guangquan, Qin Ming and Liu Sitao began to drink liquor. Li Shufen drank one full cup of rice wine, Wang Jiao drank half a cup, while the other men drank two cups. At around 10pm, they were about to go home. Li Shufen suggested that they go down by the Simen river. So Liu Yanchao, Li Shufen, Wang Jiao and Chen Guangquan walked down to the rier. When they reached the Dayan bridge, Li Shufen sat down on the railing facing the water. At the time, Liu Yanchao was about two meters on the left of Li Shufen, while Chen Guangquan was lying on the ground by the riverside. "I was shooting the breeze with Li Shufen. She said that she wanted jump into the river; if she survives, she wants to live well afterwards." As soon as Liu heard that, he went up, grabbed her and said, "You want to jump into the river? Have you gone mad?" Li was dissuaded by Liu and things calmed down.
After about ten minutes, Cheng Guangquan said that he was tired and left early. About two minutes later, Liu Yanchao heard a loud cry of "I'm going" and Li Shufen jumped into the river. Liu jumped into the river immediately to rescue her. Wang Jiao was standing at the top of the bridge and immeidately called Chen Guangquan. Chen returned immediately. At the time, Liu Yanchao was physically tired, and Chen and Wang had to pull him ashore first. By the time, they were ready to try to rescue Li Shufen, she could no longer be seen.
Wang Jiao called 110 (police) immediately, and then she called Li Shufen's elder brother Li Shuyong.
When the reporter asked "Why did Li Shufen kill herself by jumping into the river?", Li Yanchao said that she had told him that she felt that her parents favored males over females; her elder brother bullied her frequently; her parents childed her frequently, and therefore she was better off dead than alive.
The reporter then went to the home Chen Guangquan. His mother Lu dengyong used the home telephone to dial her son's mobile phone. Chen Guangquan said that he was staying at the office fo the detention center and everything was fine. He told the reporter that he was in a romantic relationship with Li Shufen. But he emphasized repeatedly: "I have never had sexual intercourse with Li Shufen."
Wang Jiao speaks coherently and unhurriedly. Apart from her petite size, her coolness and maturity makes it hard to realize that she is just a Form 2 students. Wang Jiao, who claims to be the best friend of Li Shufen, met with the reporter in a courtyard of the Weng'an county detention center.
"I have known Li Shufen since sixth grade in elementary school. Since then, we have been classmates. It can be said that we are best friends among classmates," said Wang Jiao.
She told the reporter what happened on the early morning of June 22 when Li Shufen jumped into the river. "On that night, the four of us (Wang Jiao, Li Shufen, Liu Yanchao, Chen Guangquan) ate dinner and drank wine at the place of Liu's classmate QIn Ming. We were going to go home, but Li SHufen that we walk home. When we got to the Dayan bridge of SImen river, Li Shufen suggested that we go play around. We got on the bridge. I was about 20 meters away from Li Shufen and I was worried about being scolded by my parents for going home late. Liu Yanchao and Li Shufen were about two meters away from each other. Li Shufen was sitting on the railing facing the river. They talked and they laughed. Then came the horrible scene when Li Shufen said 'I am going' and jumped into the river. I saw that she actually jumped into the river."
Wang Jiao said that Liu Yanchao jumped into the river to save Li while she called Chen Guangquan to come back to help.
This girl who did not seem saddened by the death of her best friend said that Liu Shufen loved to get on the Internet and she may have been having an Internet romantic affair for a month because the guy was calling her by phone. She also told the reporter that Li Shufen has been staying at a rental room with her elder brother Li Shuyong. Her elder brother is in High School Form 3 and has just taken the university entrance exam this year. Wang Jiao said that Li Shuyong resents her sister's Internet addiction and has been verbally abusive towards her. The parents give Li Shuyong 500 RMB for living expenses, but just 100 RMB to Li Shufen. Thus, the parents favored boys over girls. "Her death may be related to her family," Wang Jiao told the reporter.
(Xinhua) Final autopsy shows girl in southwest China protest drowned. July 11, 2008.
The girl whose death sparked violent protest in southwest China's Guizhou province was drowned, confirmed authorities after the final eight-day autopsy on Wednesday.
Qu Jianping, the doctor in charge of the third and final autopsy, went to Weng'an County Wednesday to convey the results to the family of Li Shufen.
An examination on the vagina of 17-year-old Li Shufen shows that she was still a virgin at her death, dispelling rumors that she was raped before her death.
A team composed of four doctors failed to find sperms inside and her maidenhead was still complete.
The examination was done last Wednesday witnessed by Li's father, aunt, and two others.
Apart from scratches on her right cheek and legs, experts who anatomized her head and body didn't find deadly injuries, said Qu.
The doctors concluded that the scratches were not a result of assaults but was caused when Li struggled in the water or when her body was salvaged.
No toxin was found in her stomach, Qu added.
Experts also found blood spots on her conjunctiva and pericardiac velum and said the girl had swollen lungs, signs that she died after falling into water.
The dead girl, Li Shufen, was a student at the No. 3 Middle School in Weng'an. Her body was recovered from a river in the county on June 22.
This was the third postmortem and previous reports concluded she had drowned, but her relatives contended that she was murdered. Some suspected that Li was raped and killed by people who had connections with local government officials.
Some people said they found blood on the spot. The autopsy report, however, said the blood was not of human being, but that of an animal yet to be decided.
controversy over the cause of Li's death has sparked off a massive protest and riots in the county seat, in which the office of the county government and that of the county's public security bureau were torched. Dozens of government vehicles were smashed.
Provincial Party Chief Shi Zongyuan attributed the riots to "rude and roughshod solutions" by local authorities to solve disputes over mines, the demolition of homes for public projects, the relocation of residents for reservoir construction and other issues.
He also blamed local authorities for long-standing disregard for rampant crime in the county and incompetence in maintaining public security.
Shi urged Weng'an officials to make the people's rights and interests their first priority and to deal with public grievances.
The government also moved swiftly to sack four local officials. They were: Wang Qin, Party secretary of Weng'an county, Wang Haiping, the head of the county government, Luo Laiping, secretary of the politics and law committee of the Weng'an county CPC Committee and commissar of the county's public security bureau, and Shen Guirong, chief of the public security bureau.
(Caijing) A Sad Drowning, A Summer of Discontent. By Luo Changpin. July 10, 2008.
Few Chinese knew about a remote, ethnically diverse county in the mountains of Guizhou Province before a tense night in June when about 200 people, emboldened by a surrounding crowd of thousands, set fire to offices of the local government and public security bureau.
But the June 28 incident, which locals now call ¨6-28,〃 thrust Weng An County into a public spotlight -- at home and abroad.
The riot, which the official Xinhua news agency said injured 50 police officers and protesters, coincided with a community protest march. The march was triggered by public outcry over the suspicious death of 17-year-old Li Shufen.
Li was the pretty daughter of tobacco-farming parents who drowned in the Ximen River six days before 6-28. Police say it was a suicide. Relatives call it murder.
Although Liˇs death was said to have sparked the riot, a range of local injustices -- from mining disputes to police thuggery -- apparently laid the foundation for seething discontent among the countyˇs farmers and townspeople.
The town is poor and primarily composed of the Buyi and Miao minorities. Per capita income among farmers -- who account for 90 percent of the countyˇs 460,000 people -- is just 2,000 yuan a year.
Provincial officials for the Communist Party who met less than a week after the riot acknowledged not only public angst over Liˇs death, but also the publicˇs hard feelings tied to mining disputes with landowners, relocations of villagers from a dam project zone, callous government officials, and weak law enforcement by police.
In hopes of regaining public trust, the partyˇs Guizhou committee dismissed the chief and commissar of the Weng An public security bureau on July 3. County party chief Wang Qing and government head Wang Hairong were removed the next day.
Yet resentment over Liˇs late-night death has continued to hang over Weng An like the humid summer air.
It all began when police investigators concluded that Li committed suicide -- and her relatives passionately disagreed.
Teacher Zhang Guoming told Caijing that Li was a good student who never skipped school and ranked sixth in a class of 87. Classmate Lan Xiaoyin said Liˇs scores had slipped in the past semester but added that ¨recently, she worked diligently.〃
Liˇs older brother, Li Shuyong, said his sisterˇs death came after she accepted an invitation from another girl -- her classmate Wang Jiao -- to go out on the night of June 21.
Additional details were released by a Guizhou provincial public security bureau spokesman. He said Li, Wang and two young men -- Chen Guangquan and Liu Yanhcao -- ate dinner together that evening and walked to the Ximen River. The spokesman claimed Chen was Liˇs boyfriend.
Li told Liu she wanted to kill herself by jumping into the river, police said. But the man apparently managed to change her mind. Thinking Li was safe, Liu then went to a nearby bridge to do push-ups. Chen also left the scene, police said.
Police said Liu, from the bridge, soon heard Li cry out, ¨I will go!〃 before she leapt into the water. Police were later notified by Wang.
A Caijing check of the records found that Wang phoned police at about half past midnight -- four hours after Li, Wang and the men walked to the riverside.
Records also show police chose not to try pulling Li from the river on grounds that none of the officers could swim, and that rescue team members who arrived later said ¨conditions are not proper for a rescue.〃
Liˇs body was retrieved by relatives and neighbors at 3 a.m. on June 22.
Chen, Liu and Wang were detained but released the following day after police said they lacked evidence to press charges.
All three were said to be related to high government officials. The claim of kinship was later discounted as a rumor by Luo Yi, the party official in charge of the local prefectureˇs police and justice systems.
Separate autopsies were conducted at the county, prefecture and provincial levels. The final autopsy results, released July 9th, confirmed the findings from the first two, saying that Li drowned, and that there were no signs of sexual activity prior to death.
Word among locals in Weng An, however, was that Li was raped and killed, and that government officials were protecting Chen, Liu and Wang.
Liˇs relatives pressed for a more thorough investigation. Police refused. Tension mounted. The dead girlˇs uncle clashed with a county police officer on June 25 and was later brutally beaten by six unknown men.
Meanwhile, Liˇs body was kept in a cooled coffin by the riverbank. Relatives and neighbors kept guard. Police urged the mourners to dispose of the corpse and, on June 28, issued a notice ordering its removal. If mourners disobeyed orders they were told that the ¨police will deal with the body according to law.〃
The notice ignited fury. A taxi driver who saw events unfold said it began when two students started marching with a white banner. Other local residents, sympathetic to the plight of Liˇs family, joined the protest march throughout town. It was Saturday, and the streets were filled with people.
The protesters stopped at the gate of a county government building, but no officials emerged to receive them. Eventually, the protest turned violent. Stretching from mid-afternoon to late night, the demonstration lasted seven hours.
Liˇs corpse was buried four days later, while riot police were stationed around town and soldiers guarded government buildings.
The Communist Party of Chinaˇs Guizhou committee, headed by Shi Zongyuan, met a few days later.
Shi said Liˇs death were not the only reasons for the incident. Weng An was also a hot spot for struggles over mine ownership and villager relocations. Citizensˇ interests and rights had repeatedly been trampled upon.
Local party official Luo said the incident exposed complex conflicts tied to economic development in the poverty-stricken county. ¨Numerous conflicts criss-crossed, including the relocation of residents for reservoir construction, downtown reconstruction, struggles over interests in coal and phosphorus mining, as well as the ownership transfer of state-owned enterprises,〃 Luo said.
Another party official, Mo Tao, said many party and government officials had overstepped the law in the past by handling issues through personal connections, sometimes with criminal gang protection.
Shi further stressed that many government officials had dealt with sensitive issues callously. These officials frequently used police force to settle disputes, he said. In addition, the party leader said, many officials and police officers had been negligent toward their duties in battling the areaˇs gangs.
Official provincial reports indicate that crime, including theft and gang fights, have been rampant in Weng An. Only about half the crimes are solved by local police, souring public views of the government.
The community well remembers last summerˇs late-night attack on a schoolgirl and her boyfriend by the Ximen River. The boy was beaten and the girl raped by four of the five attackers. Two hours passed before police arrived.
Another sore spot stems from the relocation of 45,812 people, including 32,553 farmers, to make way for the Goupitan hydroelectric station -- the biggest in the province. Complaints focused on heavy-handed house demolitions and inadequate compensation for displaced residents. At least one struggle turned bloody.
Weng An is also home to phosphorus mines and considerable coal reserves, creating clashing interests over mine ownership. Some locals blame land-grabs on government officials, including administrative and judicial powers who work with criminal gangs.
Referring to the violent demonstration that put Weng An on the map, Shi admitted, ¨the incident seems to have been spontaneous. But it was doomed to happen sooner or later.〃
(Southern Weekend) Weng'an, an unpeaceful county city. July 10, 2008.
It took only a short six days from the day of the abnormal death of a junior high school female student to the disturbance that rocked Weng'an county city and gained the attenton of the entire nation.
On the day when Guizhou province Weng'an County Number Three Middle School Form 2 student Li Shufen died (June 22), the medical examiner made a preliminary determination and informed the family she "had drowned by suicide" and the three principals present at the scene were released.
On the next day, her father Li Xiuhua raised doubts and asked for a full autopsy. He submitted an application for a crime investigation.
On the fourth day after the death of Li Shufen, rumors began to float around the city. Her uncle Li Xiuzhong clashed with the police at the county public security bureau and was then assaulted by unidentified persons outside. The case is still unsolved at this time. Her father filed an emergency appeal to ask the government to "solve the case and punish the evil doers in order to calm public discontent."
Seven days after the death of Li Shufen, several dozen people marched with banners and then engaged in vandalism, looting and arson at the Weng'an county government and party buildings as well as the public security bureau building. More than 10,000 people were at the scene.
The family of Li Shufen is reluctant to discuss her death now. The young Li Shufen could not imagine that her death would lead Guizhou Provincial Party Secretary Shi Zongyuan to say directly: "Weng'an is unsafe; the masses feel unsafe; the people won't tell the truth."
In six days, how did the escalating clashes and associated rumors around the death of a female student cause the city to explode? What kind of unsafe city was Weng'an during those six days?
There was no prior hint for the incident. On the day when Li Shufen died, her family did not have many questions. On the morning of the same day, the three principals present at the scene were questioned by the police and released because there was no suspicion of wrongdoing.
When the family of Li went to the police station to talk to the three principals, the latter were no longer there. At the same time, the three began to appear in the rumors: "The principal murderer is the niece of the county party secretary, and the other two men are relatives of the police station chief. The deceased had been raped and killed."
"The relatives were submerged in sorrow and they did not considered the key issues about what had occurred before her drowning death. They did not demand an autopsy or an examination of her lower body party," Li Xiuhua described the initial situation.
In order to preserve her body, Li Shufen's godfather Xie Qingfa rented a refrigerated coffin at a daily rate of 120 RMB. The refrigerated coffin was placed at the end of the Dayan bridge where the accident took place. This concrete bridge is less than 1.5 meters wide. The balustrades on both sides are about 1 meter high. The Simen river which is several dozen meters wide flows underneath the bridge. There are weeds floating in the river, which is as deep as two meters. There is no open space by the riverbank. The refrigerated coffin was placed inside a temporarily erected tent.
Some spectators swore that they heard screeching cries for help in the middle of the night. Someone said that they saw condoms and blood stains on the river bank. A grassy patch by the river was said to be the spot where the crime was committed.
The death of the girl Li Shufen became interwined with government officials, merciliess policemen and injustice across this small county city.
The family of Li Shufen thought that there was an injustice at first. On June 23, they asked for another medical examination. At the time, the maternal grandmother Cheng Shujen witnessed the process and swore that "there was no water in the stomach and there were pills in her throat."
The increasingly distorted rumors began to spread through the streets of Weng'an. "16-year-old Li Shufen was murdered because she refused to let a female classmate copy her answers during an exam; her throat had many wound marks -- she was obviously strangled to death!; the son of the Weng'an county deputy mayor with another young man raped a Weng'an County Number Three Middle School female student, killed her and tossed her body into the Simen river ..."
This small space by the river became a stage. From morning to evening, people came continuously. People brought their own discontent to gawk at this girl who died of unknown causes.
They opened their wallets generously because they wanted to see justice rendered for her. Many citizens told the reporters that they heard that someone gave as much as 3,000 RMB. "That person told her relatives to take the money to file a lawsuit. We will support you to the end. If you don't want to go to court, you return the money to me." This is as if they had personally seen this occurred.
The donors included common folks. "There were peasants who don't earn much from the vegetables that they sell. But they donated their ten RMB of the day." According to an eyewitness, the donations totalled several tens of thousands of yuan.
On June 25, a new incident occurred. Li Shufen's uncle Li Xiuzhong clashed with militia policeman Zhang Ming. Afterwards, the official statement was that "the two had clashed but Li was not injured." But Li Xiuhua wrote in this petition letter that his brother Li Xiuzhong "had been beaten with truncheons and kicked before being interrogated by the militia policeman."
Li Xiuzhong was then summoned by the county education department to go down to the police station for questioning. Afterwards, he left and when he got to the Weng'an insurance company, he was assaulted violently by a group of unidentified men in plain clothes.
In his "emergency appeal," Li Xiuhua wrote: "Li Xiuzhong was assaulted ... he was bleeding, unconscious and in critical condition." He also claimed that "my beloved daughter Li Shufen was murdered but the public security bureau refused to estabalish a case for investigation ..."
The aforementioned episode showed up in the street rumors as: "The family of the deceased went down to the public security bureau but the police beat the uncle severely. Then they ordered gangsters to beat him further. His uncle died at 4pm after medical treatment failed."
The rumors about the injustices rolled bigger and bigger, but these were clearly ignored by the government. The Simen river flowed on silently and nobody noticed what was happening. But these small dark changes were brewing silently and gathering strength.
On the morning of June 28, the Weng'an County Public Security Buerau delivered the <Notice to urge a speedy disposition of the body> to the family of Li Shufen. The notice stated that Li Shufen "had jumped into river on her own accord and drowned." "The cause of death has been established, so there is no need to preserve her body." The Li family was enjoined to send the body of Li Shufen back home for burial before 14:00, June 28 2008." "If not, the public security bureau will handle this in accordance with the law."
This aroused the ire of the spectators. At around 3pm on that day, two middle school students raising a banner saying "Justice for the people" in front and several dozen followers marched on behalf of Li Shufen.
None of these marchers were family relatives of Li Shufen.
The group started from the Dayan bridge and chanted slogans. Then they got on the Old Ring City Road.
At the Seven Stars village alongside the Old Ring City Road, there resided almost 1,000 people who had been displaced by the hydroelectricity project. After the 6.28 incident occurred, Guizhou provincial party secretary Shi Zongyuan said that his incident appeared to have been triggered by the controvesial death of a middle school female student, but the deep structural reason is that there had been frequent infringements of citizen rights over the relocation of migrants, demolition of buildings and mining rights disputes.
The "relocated migrants" that Shi Zongyuan was referring to included the 1,000 or so people at Seven Stars village. These people were displaced by the construction of the largest hydroelectricity project in Guizhou province. More than 4,000 were displaced for the dam, including more than 3,000 who had previously been farmers. As early as 2004, the villagers in Laiyuan district had clashed with government workers over the compensation and relocation plans.
The villagers recalled that the relocation began in late 2002. The entire village was to be relocated. At the time, the compensation was 19,000 RMB per person, but the villagers thought that the amount was too low and they suspected the relocation department was keeping some of the money for themselves.
In terms of land compensation, the villagers also thought that the amount paid for fruit trees was also too low. According to the national standard, each mu of garden land should be given more than 16,000 RMB. But these villagers were only offered 100 RMB per tree, which worked out to be only 7,000 RMB per mu. Meanwhile, a neighboring village received 1,000 RMB per tree.
In December 2004, then county mayor Wang Qin visited the village along with members of the provincial-, prefecture- and county-level relocation bureaus. "We asked them why the compensation was so low," said a villager. "We were not communicating. They could not explain so we were not going to let them go."
The angry villagers took away the cars and blocked the roads. Other people in the neighboring areas also came over when they heard the news. Together with the more than 1,000 outsiders, there were 2,000 to 3,000 migrants in the village.
The government officials including the county mayor were forced to stay in the village for three days and three nights. The two sides could not reach an understanding. On December 16, the villagers found that a large number of armed policemen had arrived.
Once the clash began, many villagers were injured, including women and children.
"We called 120 but they did not care. We brought our injured people to the town clinic but they were ordered not to receive injured people. In the end, we had buy our own medicine to treat our injured," said this villager.
Finally, the government officials managed to leave with the escort of the armed policemen.
After more than half a year later, the government agreed to provide a total of 5,000 RMB in medical compensation to 34 injured persons. But the issue of relocation compensation remained unresolved.
More than two years later in late March 200, the villagesr received notices from the town government to complete their relocation by March 31. "If you fail to relocate before then, you will bear all the consequences."
On April 6, 2007, the Weng'an county government leaders led a team of more than 100 government workers and demolished the buildings in the village, including setting some on fire.
Not only this, but these officials saw all the fruit trees under the waterline, destroyed all the grown crop and sprayed poison on the seedlings. At the time, the pears were ripe but they were gone before being picked. "It rained heavily that night. So people could only hovel under some tent clothes." That was how the villagers spent a sorrowful night. Today, that village is a pile of weed-filled deserted rubble.
As of today, 54 of the more than 200 migrant families have stayed in the village. They have not received any compensation from the government. They managed to build shacks above the water level. They have no water or electiricity. They survive on the farmland and fruit trees that are above the water line. When they try to get construction work at the town government, they are told that they are not needed. "We only want a transparent policy in which we receive our compensation. We want to live peacefully above the water line." They are waiting without much hope for the problems to be resolved.
The more than 1,000 villagers who have relocated to the Seven Stars village have received their compensation which they think is too low. So they are still pursuing the matter.
On June 28, when the demonstrators went by the Seven Stars village, some of the migrants who were still pursuing the compensation issue joined in.
After going down Old Ring City Road, the marchers led by middle school students turned into Northeast Road. The Weng'an Number Three Middle School is located on Northeast Road. The deceased girl Li Shufen had attended this school.
"The school is unsafe. Many fellow students have joined gangs and they show off their membership," said a male student who did not want to disclose his name.
He said that there were almost daily fights in front of the Number 3 Middle School each day after classes. There were group melees or individual face-offs involving machetes, daggers, poles and so on. The brawlers included students as well as local "hooligans" from various gangs in the city. According to two teachers at Number Three Middle School, "Students assaulting teachers is nothing new."
Another students said that it is not just male students who join gangs. In Weng'an, if you want to concentrate on studying and not be bullied, you must join a gang and get 'protection' and this applies to girls as well as boys.
The gangs are not just active among students, for that was just the lowest ring in the organizations. According to someone who had invested in mining, at the tip of the pyramid are the gangsters in the mining industry, who sometimes collude with government officials.
"It is tough to operate a mine if you refuse to accept the terms of the gangs." According to the informant, the terms include payment of protection money; distrubution/sales rights of mined products; ownership of shares in the mines. Some gangs operate mines themselves.
Between the mines and the gangs, the villagers live awkwardly.
In Yuhua town where Li Shufen came from, there are many phosphorous mines. The reporter saw that the river water was greyish-white murky. The villagers said that since 2002, the mines have contaminated the water source which meant that people and animals could not drink from it and the crops withered. When the villagers complained to the government and the mines, they were ignored.
In addition, the mines created soil erosion but the villagers received little or nothing in compensation for losing their land.
At the Tianba briadge of Yanganhe village, Yuhua town, the villagers found that the water level was sinking due to the mining. In 2007, a well dried up completely so that there was no water for man and animals.
According to a villager who declined to disclose his name, the Tianba villagers went to the mine to complain. The mine representative said that the falling water level was a natural phenomenon. The villagers also went to the complain to the county and town governments to no avail. Reluctantly, the villagers tried to cut off the electricity as well as blockade the mine shaft. Clashes occurred between the two sdies.
This villager said that the Weng'an government organized a work group to come down on March 15. The villagers said "as long as the water problem is unresolved, we won't let you go." The work group was detained in the village for three days and three nights before being released.
On April 29 last year, the county governmetn asked the village representatives to attend a meeting "to resolve the problems." A group of 14 villagers including the village mayor and the village party secretary went to the county government office building to meet in the conference room. According to a villager who attended the meeting, the county police showed up in the middle of the meeting and took away 11 of the representatives.
"When the villagers heard that their representatives had been arrested, the whole brigade went to the county city. At the police station, a police line was set up to prevent the villagers from seeing their representatives. Amidst the chaos, a physical melee occurred. 22 people from the brigade, including the representatives, were arrested." The eyewitness said that some of the villagers were accused to assaulting the government office. Ultimately, seven of the village representatives were found guilty of "assembling and disturbing public order," with prison sentences between two to six years in length.
The godfather of the deceased school girl Li Shufen, Xie Qingfa, is a member of the Tianba bridage in Yuhua town and he particpated in the aforementioned incident.
So when the demonstrators went by on June 28, the mining district residents who had suffered at the hands of the government workers and the gangs were quickly ignited and many joined the marchers. According to an eyewitness, many shop owners by the road shuttered their shops and joined the demonstration.
On July 3, Guizhou party secretary Shi Zongyuan said that in the process of handling conflicts and mass incidents, certain cadres were violent and simplistic, frequently invoking the police force ... some cadres were lazy and derelict and they pushed the police onto the front line whenever an incident occurred. This ired the people greatly. The result was that there was not only tension between the government and the people, but also between the police and the people.
Guizhou provincial deputy party secretary Wang Fuyu said that some cadres are corrupt and collude with the gangs by acting as their "sentries" and "protection umbrellas."
After the 6.28 incident, the Guizhou police quickly established a crime squad and arrested 249 persons belonging to six different gangs. The largest gang was "the Yushan gang which was established in 1998 and has more than 50 lieutenants." In one day, the gangs that had existed safely in Weng'an were wiped out.
On July 3, Weng'an county public security bureau director was recommended for dismissal; on July 4, the Weng'an county party secretary Wang Qin and county mayor Wang Haipnig were dismissed from their posts.
When the demonstrators left North East Road to turn into Wenfeng Middle Road, the crowd had swelled from the several dozens in the beginning to one thousand.
The lesson to be drawn after the incident was expressed on the afternoon of July 2 at a mobilization meeting for the anti-gang campaign in southern Guizhou province. The prefecture party secretary Wu Ting described the situation to the party and government leaders from the twelve counties. The incident occurred on June 22 and the Weng'an government paid attention to it by establishing a work group. They were still discussing the issues on the morning of July 3. "So why did everything change at 3pm?"
Wu Ting said that he could not see how two or three hundred people holding a banner could swell up to four to five thousand by the time that they reached the county government buildings. During the process, how come nobody in the government knew or mediate?
On Wenfeng road, the shops are mostly "sales agents" and "recreational massage parlors." According to an informed sources, the "sales agents" are pawn shops and loan sharks with gangster backgrounds and hidden government backers.
The official presentation of Weng'an county is that this was a historical revolutionary county, a top 100 green county in the nation for is forestry, a model county for protecting the old and the young and a red flag county for public safety in the province.
But a taxi driver said that Weng'an is an unsafe city. "I am definitely home by 11 o'clock at night. That is when the gangs come out." A parent named Feng Zhongming cried to the reporter that his 9-year-old son died from poisoning last year and the case is unsolved.
At past 10pm on June 26, the Changsha Water Pump Shop on Wenfeng Road was robbed by two masked men. According to the owner, "Two men armed with guns just walked into the shop." They pointed the guns at the owner's head and ordered him to bring out his money. The robbers rolled down the steel gate, tied up the family of three, took two mobile phones and 1,000 RMB in cash and they left. "I called 110, and they showed up more than 40 minutes later." The owner thought that police were too slow in responding.
On one evening on the year before last, a middle school students was killed as soon as he stepped out of the school gate. Last month, a middle school girl suddenly went "missing." Later on, her body was found in a corn field. She had been strangled. That case is still unsolved.
"I go and pick up my child after school each day or else I feel very insecure," said a parent named Shi. Although the child is already in high school, the parent is uneasy because of the general lack of safety. There is a local doggerel: "The good people are in disarray, the bad people have formed gangs; if security is no good, there cannot be any prosperity."
According to published information, the police noted that there were four explosions on September 12, 19, 22 and 26, 2007 at the Weng'an county Audit Department dormitory, Jinlong Garden, the North Gate Well and the Pedestrian Mall. Those cases are unsolved at this time.
Guizhou provincial deputy party secretary Wang Fuyu believes that an underlying reason for the 6.28 incident was the bad public safety situation in Weng'an. Although the police have gone after the gangs, the latter have not been eradicated. Robberies and fights continued to occur. There were 600 to 800 crimes committed last year, of which about 50% were solved. When crimes go unsolved and pile up, people feel unsafe.
When the cars were being torched outside the government building, the police could not stop the masses. But the owner of a small shop told the masses: "This car is mine. I need it. Please don't burn it." The vandals did not torch that car.
Southern Guizhou party secretary Wu Ting sighed: "Why do the vandals refuse to listen to us but they would listen to a citizen? Why is our relationship with the masses so tense?"
After the 6.28 incident, the broadcasts continued to urge the participants to surrender themselves. On the streets, the armed police and the regular police patrolled. In front of the county party and government offices, there were armed police guards 24 hours a day. A taxi driver said: "These are the safest times in Weng'an."
The most interesting conversation took place between provincial party secretary Shi Zongyuan and the workers at a blind-person massage place. Shi asked whether the shop owner felt safe because they were next to the public security bureau building. When the owner hestitated to answer, Shi apologized: "Our party and government have failed in our work. Weng'an is unsafe, the people feel unsafe and there are more and more bad people."
When a worker at the shop refused to state his name, Shi Zongyuan once against admonished himself: "Weng'an is unsafe. The people dare not tell the truth. That is our responsibility ... the government is unable to stop the bad people and the masses are suffering. Weng'an is unsafe. The good people cannot defeat the bad people." He apologized repeatedly to the people of Weng'an.
"The incident began with students demonstrators. Then thousands of people gathered to watch. But the party, government and public security bureau had no information beforehand. They lack information, they were not mentally prepared and they had no contingency plan. When the incident took place, they had no response." On the meeting of July 3, Wang Fuyu said, "In condlusion, there were too many unresolved matters, there was too much bitterness and things were irreversible."
"The 6.28 incident appeared to be an accident, but it was inevitable. Sooner or later, this was going to happen!" said Shi Zongyuan.
At 3:30pm on June 28, citizen Hu saw the demonstrators coming down on Wenfeng Road. The people were chanting slogans and heading towards the county party and government buildings. Hu joined the group.
When the demonstrators reached the county and government offices, more than 10,000 people had shown up. There were students, migrants, shop owners, farmers, service workers, massage girls and even public servants, relatives of police officers ... they were men, women, young, old -- all the groups of Weng'an county city were represented here.
Hu said that the students went into the county party and government buildings and went from the first floor to the fifth floor without finding any relevant government officials. It was a Saturday.
"If someone in charge had come out and communicated with the people -- even if it was just someone saying a few words with a loudspeaker -- what happened later on could not have occurred," said Hu.
Since the Li Shufen affair was handled by the public security bureau, the demonstrators proceeded to the county public security bureau building.
Hu saw that the police had set up a police line in front of the building. They were going to let two students to enter the building "They seized the banner and the students seized it back. There was a clash and the students jostled with the police," said Hu. "When people saw the students being beaten, more people charged past the police line to help."
At that moment, the fully armed anti-riot police appeared and pointed their truncheons at the crowd.
Guizhou provincial party secretary Shi Zongyuan said afterwards: "You cannot just push the police onto the front line on any flimsy reason. You cannot impose the dictatorship of the people onto the people themselves. Otherwise, wouldn't it be weird!" Shi Zongyuan requested the cadre leaders to determine the cadres who were derelict in their duties during the incident.
The crowd was in an uproar. When they saw the students being assaulted, they tossed the water bottles in their hands, the flower pots in front of the building and everything else at the public security bureau building.
"It was over," said Hu. At that moment, he realized that the crowd has lost its head and the situation has spun out of control.
By that time, the triggering fuse was no longer important. The important thing was that the pented-up volcano had suddenly just found what had been a very small crack and Weng'an exploded.
(Outlook Weekly) Weng'an Focused On Economy And Neglected Public Opinion; The People Won't Tell The Truth To The Government. By Zhao Peng, Zhou Furong and Liu Wenguo. July 12, 2008.
"When I saw the county government building go up in flames, tears poured out my eyes. But the spectators were cheering, 'Go!'."
Although the 6.28 Weng'an incident occurred more than a dozen days ago, Cai Dongmei (who is a Guizhou provincial People's Congress delegate and the chairman of the Auntie Cai's Food Company) was still filled with sorrow when she recounted her feelings as an observer at the scene.
"This was not an isolated incident. Rather, it was the inevitable culmination of many social conflicts over a long time." The 71-year-old veteran cadre (and former Weng'an county mayor) Xu Yinfeng said. "The people are bitter. When their feelings get pented up over time, something is going to happen!" Another veteran cadre Wang Rude told our reporter.
The Weng'an cadres and people have been reflecting: How can the death of the middle school female student Li Shufen lead to an extraordinary mass incident of 10,000 people gathering together, assaulting, vandalizing and torching the county party, government and public security bureau buildings?
Our investigation showed that the local government was slow in reacting and they mishandled the incident. But the more disconcerting thing was that "the masses were not longer willing to tell the truth to the government."
With respect to the death of Li Shufen, there were doubts ever since her body was recovered by her uncle Li Xiuzhong and others on the early morning of June 22 and placed in a refrigerated coffin by the river bank. The various cadres and citizens pointed out that there were two critical periods during which the escalation to the 6.28 incident could have been avoided.
The first time period was the seven days between June 22 and June 28. Although the county public security bureau and the other relevant county departments worked on the Li family, they were unable to persuade the family to bury Li Shufen and prevent the incident from escalating.
"That week was the time when the government should have acted to prevent the 6.28 incident," Xu Yinfeng told our reporter. From the day when the Li family put the body by the river bank, there were thousands of people going to the scene each day. Rumors were flying all over the place. The government and the public security bureau did not provide any clarification concerning what the people were saying and they did not issue any clarification through communication channels. As a result, the false rumors spread like wildfire.
"Many people who did not know the truth believed in the rumors. They were angry and there were signs that there would be trouble. But there was no awareness. This meant that the initiative to guide public opinion, prevent escalation and stabilizing emotions was lost," said Xu Yinfeng.
The second time period was between 16:00 and 20:00 on June 28. During those four hours, the crowd assembled to state their complaints. But the county party, government and public security bureau leaders (as well as the southern Guizhou party and the Guizhou provincial government) leaders did not appear in front of the crowd to speak to them.
Many of the interviewed spectators had the same refrain: "If any of the county party, government and public security leaders had come out personally to meet with the petitioners and communicate with them in front of everyone, the situation would not have gone out of control. There would not have been a large-scale clash."
On that Saturday, where were the county and provincial leaders? Our reporter learned that at 10:20pm on June 28, the southern Guizhou party leaders had arrived in Weng'an. But there were too many people around and the car could only circle around while they waited for the arrival of Guizhou provincial party standing committee member and political and legal committee secretary Cui Yadong to arrive from Guiyang.
The actions taken by Weng'an county party secretary Wang Qin were the following: 800 cadres of the directly responsible departments and the county towns were sent to the scene to maintain order; the fire brigade was sent in to put out the fire; the deputy county mayor Zheng Yi was sent in to direct action at the scene; the various other cadres were dispatched to the scene; Wang Qin himself installed himself at the county armed police headquarters to command the actions.
It is worth thinking why the local party, government and public security bureau departments had no information while several hundred people including students were marching on June 28. The local public security bureau had inserted an "informant" to report on the actions of the Li family, but this person failed to file any reports. Afterwards, Wang Qin concluded: when the informant failed to deliver, they became unprepared, they did not even have an emergency plan and they were at a loss when the mass incident occurred.
County Political Consultative Conference and People's Hospital doctor Wang Deqing said, "Even if this informant failed, while didn't other citizens report to the county party? When the people won't tell the truth to your government, you are in trouble."
"Weng'an is not safe place." This was what our reporters heard repeatedly from the people of Weng'an.
In Guizhou province, Weng'an is famous for its chaos. According to information, there have been many cases of abnormal deaths among middle school students in Weng'an county since 2007. None of those cases have been solved. In December 2007, the Caoqiao Middle School student Fu Chaoxian was raped and murdered less than 200 meters from her home. The perpetrator is still at large and the people are strongly dissatisfied.
According to Yonghe town villager Zhang Yanhong, his 9-year-old nephew Zhang Xiaoyun was kidnapped in May 2006 with no information available since. He went down to the public security bureau to complain and he got a beating for his trouble.
A taxi driver said that his colleague Xu Anqi was assaulted by Yushan gang members and the county public security bureau refused to take action. Only when all the taxi drivers in Weng'an county threatened to go out on strike did the public security bureau make the other party pay 3,000 RMB in compensation.
Between September 12 and 26, 2007, there were four explosions at the Golden Dragon Garden, Flower Bamboo Garden, Northgate Water Well and the Plaza Restaurant. None of those cases have been solved. These four sites are places near which county cadres live, or where government workers pass through.
According to Lu Xiaoli, who owns a blind-person massage parlor: "So many children are being murdered in the city and not a single bad guy has been apprehended. Why would the people trust them?" A middle-aged woman cried to the reporter: "The people pressed for an explanation in the case of Li Shufen because we are trying to protect our own children!"
Behind the chaos of public safety in Weng'an county are the criminal gangs. According to the people, there were more than a dozen gangs such as the Yushan gang, the Green Dragon gang, the Axe gang, the Kitchen Knife gang and others. The reasons why the gangs proliferate was that the police were so poor at solving crimes and some of the police were even helping gangsters.
Since the place was unsafe and the rate of solving crimes was poor, the people and the police were like fire and water. Our reporter could sense this strong emotion of opposition during the interviews. At 21:00 on July 3, the reporters observed at the textile factory workers' dormitory that 20 to 30 volunteers were making dumplings for the armed police officers who had been sent in to restore order. "They are like a blue sky. It is normally very unsafe. There are many robberies, which begin to happen around 7pm or 8pm. We don't dare to go out at night. We feel very safe when the armed police are around for the past several days," said a laid-off worker at this textile factory.
An armed police officer who was eating dumplings told the reporter: "The local crowds are very enthusiastic and nice. During the day, they bring us mineral water bottles. During the night, they bring us snacks. They treat us like family. But they act very differently towards the local public security personnel. When we wanted to share the mineral water that they brought us with the local public security people who were standing guard alongside us, they scolded us and they made it very clear that they did not want to give the mineral water that they purchased with their own money to the local public security personnel."
(yWeekend) Weng'an Officials Provide "Full Company" At Interviews. By Ma Jun. July 17, 2008.
The 'unusual death' of a girl in Weng'an county (Guizhou province) led to a mass incident in which county government buildings were attacked, vandalized and set on fire. Had the government been open about information, would the incident have occurred? The China News Weekly reporter Wang Weibo went to Weng'an to investigate and found the following during his ten days or so of work there:
If the reporter does not register with the local authorities, he does not get cooperation; the family members of the deceased are provided "full company" by local officials during interviews; the 'bulletins' provided to the reporter are deliberately filtered; more than a dozen local teachers have been organized to comment and guide opinion on the Internet ...
"But it was an improvement to observe that the local officials are reflecting on the issue of information openness," said Wang Weibo to yWeekend.
On the evening of July 3, I arrived in Weng'an. On the next day, the county party secretary and mayor were removed from their posts.
At about two to three kilometers from Weng'an county, there is a toll booth on the main road to Weng'an county city. Inside, there is a notice in red with the big letters: "Welcome Chinese and foreign media reporters to come and gather news." The reception and mobile telephone numbers were listed underneath.
But we did not dial those contact numbers. Based upon our previous practice in investigative journalism, we entered the city and set out to find the principals directly.
On the streets of Weng'an, there were patrols wearing red armbands. At the major street intersections, armed policemen stood guard. There were banners everywhere that said: "Thank you for your hard work, media reporter friends!" These banners sounded very warm and friendly, showing a certain posture by the local authorities.
But when we wanted to interview people, we had to produce a special press pass. This pass is issued by the 6.28 Incident Management Team. When a reporter applies with the team, he receives a special press pass. Without this pass, many people (especially officials) will refuse to be interviewed.
At first, we did not go through this process. Without the pass, we ran into many obstacles during our interviewing. We arrived at Yuhua town where the family of the deceased lived, and the local cadres questioned and blocked us repeatedly. Our press cards issued by the General Administration of Press and Publications were not good enough. At the home of the deceased Li Shufen, the reporter encountered the people from the county publicity department. We reasoned with them for a long while before they reluctantly permitted the family members to be interviewed.
The next day, we went back to the county city and got our press passes. This press pass gave us some guarantees. But it also allowed the authorities to keep track of whom we were interviewing and what we were asking about.
Generally speaking, the government has been open about media coverage from the start of the incident to now. As long as we had our press pass, they did not directly stop us. But on July 3 and 4 when the reporters interviewed the parents and elder brother of the deceased, the local officials were present. Town cadres and county publicity department workers were present the whole time.
It would seem that the family members did not want to say too much. Some reporters would try to get a family member to go on the side and have a private chat for a few minutes and maybe get something new. Otherwise, the family members repeated the information that has already been provided at the press conferences.
The final version of the facts is completely different from the original Internet rumors. Of course, there are still some doubts that are still unknown, such as the motive for the girl to commit suicide and so on. But basically, the possibility of murder, rape, and other Internet rumors have been excluded. This is actually favorable to the government. Such being the case, then why won't they let the reporters gather information freely?
I think that this situation is understandable. The local officials are hoping to do their work well to get the media publish positive reports. So they will necessarily try to manage the process. That is to say, they would not interfere with the interviews but they still wanted to put the reporters under control if possible.
They wanted even more for the reporters to help them dispel the rumors and calm people down. But when there are large numbers of media from the outside whose contents are beyond their control, they can only control the interviewing process.
Actually, this is still the same traditional way of thinking.
The interviews with the three principals who were at the scene was a joint interview with various media organizations. Of course, they were accompanied by local officials.
The three principals said the same things that were already said at the press conferences.
We are a group of three reporters and we took different directions in our stories. I was covering the angle of the responses by government officials during this affair.
The handling of the 6.28 incident was probably inappropriate based upon the outcome. The situation went out of control. Therefore, the local officials were being evasive and did not want to say much.
On July 5, I asked to interview the county leaders in order to understand the details of how they dealt with the situation on June 28. I hoped to interview Xiao Song who was at the scene of the disturbance. He was the county vice-mayor in charge of petitions and public security.
The Information and Publicity Office people told me to go and get the bulletins at the incident emergency command center. These bulletins were issued on a daily basis and they documented the government's emergency responses.
The command center was located at another site. When I got there, I was turned back because they said that the bulletins were also available at the Information and Publicity Office. So I went back to the Information and Publicity Office and one of their directors was decent enough to run over to the command center in the rain and got me the bulletins. But there were only three bulletins.
Actually, more than a dozen bulletins had been published already. The three bulletins that they gave me was principally about how they had finished their propaganda work and other items that showcased their achievements. But I wanted above all to read the bulletins between the critical days of June 28 to June 30. Those were absent.
Without doubt, they had "filtered" the bulletins to be given to me.
"Why won't you provide me with all the bulletins? You filed these bulletins for your superiors to read, and they should also be released to the media." I raised this question right there. They replied that the bulletins involved certain secret matters such as the movements of the armed police. As such, it was inappropriate to release the information to the press.
This explanation may seem alright, but it couldn't be the case that all of the other bulletins were about the movements of the armed police?
I argued back and forth, but I never got the bulletins that I wanted.
This chunk was a key missing part of my report. Afterwards, I could only go through many interviews, including government officials who wanted to stay anonymous and certain citizens (who had taken videos at the scene) before I could reconstruct how the government officials reacted and coped during the 7 hours of the afternoon of June 28.
Previously, there are many taboos and customs in covering similar mass incidents. But this time, there were many breakthroughs.
In less than one hour after the incident, netizens were posting videos and photos on the Internet. On the evening of June 28, 'roadside rumors' began to circulate on the blogs and forums. Not only were the local police accused of injustice, but the rumors also said that the police had beaten an uncle of the deceased to death.
These stories drew innumerable angry comments. At the Tianya and Strong Nation forums, the relevant posts soared to the top. These stories contain the ingredients that rile the Chinese people the most: official corruption, rape-murder, police inaction, etc.
The Internet action created a different kind of worry for the local officials. They organized to counterattack. Although they were reacting passively, they nevertheless achieved decent results.
Certain posts that counterattacked the rumors began to appear on the Internet. These posts came mostly from the "Group for policy discussion and law publicity" in Weng'an county. More than a dozen teachers who were familiar with the Internet were selected and transferred from the county schools and they acted systematically and purposefully to dispel rumors and calm people down with comments on the Internet.
The leader of this publicity team is the Guizhou provincial party committee publicity department deputy director Zhou Xiaoyun. According to the presentation of a local official, the principal mission of this publicity team is to organize personnel to make Internet comments, "and use the Guizhou media to affect national opinion." Since the government website office was destroyed by arson, the workers worked on the second floor of the Telecom Building. The dozen or so workers from the relevant county departments and schools worked daily to collect information and followed up with comments on inaccurate information.
An official with the emergency handling command center also explained, "Apart from Weng'an county, all other counties and cities in the Southern Guizhou Prefecture assigned 5 Internet commentators each. Each day, they consulted the Xinhua news reports and other recently published information, and then they use a variety of flexible methods to guide Internet discussion."
Obviously, the local government has begun to study news tactics. These methods are much more effective than what they used to do.
Of course, they were doing different things on and off the Internet too.
Off the Internet, they were mainly guiding and restricting the traditional media. This close monitoring of the traditional media gives the sense of a pro-active technique.
On July 29, the 6.28 incident emergency response command center was established. The aforementioned "Group for discussion and law publicity" was one of eight work groups within the center. They also have an incident investigation team, a persuasion/guidance team and so on.
On the morning of July 29, Xinhua published the report titled <An incident of assault, vandalism and arson occurred in Weng'an county, Guizhou province>. By comparison to the historical record, this type of incident is usually reported several days afterwards. Afterwards, the Guizhou provincial and Southern Guizhou Prefecture media began their reporting on the incident.
The government began its work to dispel the rumors on the fourth day after the incident occurred. On July 1, the Guizhou provincial government information office, the Guizhou provincial public security bureau and other departments held a press conference in Guiyang concerning "the major incident of assault, vandalism and arson on June 28 in Weng'an." They made the following clarifications: (1) the evidence showed that the girl had died by drowning and was not raped/murdered; (2) the county party secretary Wang Qin is from the local area and he has no relatives in the Weng'an area; etc.
An analysis showed that from June 30 and July 3, the reporting on the case (including the interviewing by the militia police, family members and the three principals on the scene) was controlled by the Guizhou media. Outside media could not make any breakthrough mainly because they could not find anyone to interview.
Afterwards, the local government arranged several interviews of the principals by outside media for publicity reasons.
During the interviewing process, we observed certain improvements. But this is still far away from genuine openness of government information. With respect to channel availability and timing for information openness, there is still a lot of room for improvement.
Openness of government information means genuine openness, but the local officials still have an antiquated idea about propaganda and they want to control the media. I interviewed one government officials and he kept using words such as "monitoring," "controlling" and "blocking." These terms clearly exhibited an old style of thinking.
If they had started out with open information, what happened later need not have occurred.
Between June 22 and June 28 (from the death of Li Shufen to the presence of thousands in the streets), the government was basically silent. I spoke with local government officials, and they admitted that the government stayed silent because it had no awareness about the need of openness of government information. They also did not have the kind of communication means. It may be said that the system of information openness has not been effectively built at the time.
In today's interview (July 14), I spoke with a director at the Weng'an county emergency response office. They had also reflected and summarized this experience.
They were confounded by one problem: For the government, information openness often implied an openness that is authoritative and accurate; for the public, information openness should be as transparent and clear as possible.
For an emergency incident, there always needs to be an investigative process. This implies an conflict between information openness and timeliness. How to resolve the conflict?
For this director, he thinks that they should let the people hear the government's voice in the first instant, even if this voice does not contain an authoritative explanation yet.
But the voice in the first instant can at least show the attitude of the government and give a promise to the people. When the masses hear this voice, they know that the government is going to ignore this matter. This is the way to calm people down.
(South China Morning Post) 34 sentenced for riot over girl's mysterious death. By Minnie Chan. September 13, 2009.
Thirty-four people were handed jail terms of between one to 20 years for "provoking young people" to clash with police during a massive riot in Wengan county, Guizhou province in June last year, as well as other criminal activities, state media reported.
Those sentenced were members of two big criminal syndicates, the "Liu Jun Gang" and the "Neng Laoer Gang", and their charges include instigating people to raid government offices, possessing firearms and ammunition, operating gambling business, blackmail and extortion, the report said.
Not all the charges were related to the Wengan riot, in which 30,000 people took to the street and clashed with the police, on June 28 last year.
The newspaper, under the Guizhou government, said that Liu Changjun , head of the Liu Jun Gang, received a 20-year sentence and 200,000 yuan of fine, while Leng Xianfa , master of the Neng Laoer Gang, was sentenced to 19 years in jail.
The report said they had provoked young adults to smash the county government building and beat up police sent to the unrest.
The protest was triggered by the mysterious death of a girl, Li Shufen. The police said she committed suicide but her parents believe she was raped and murdered. The cause of the death remained unknown over a year after the riot, which the authorities said was organised by those with "ulterior motives".
The girl's father said his demand for an autopsy report was rejected by a forensic pathologist that the local government assigned.
(Xinhua) 18 jailed over organized crimes in SW China January 4, 2010
A local court on Monday sentenced 18 people to jail terms of up to 20 years for their involvement in organized crimes in southwest China's Guizhou Province.
Among them, 12 were members of the Yushan Gang in Weng'an County who were convicted of organizing the mafia-style gang, racketeering, illegal mining, operating gambling dens, intentional injuring, rape and many other offences. The 12 received jail terms ranged between 5 and 20 years respectively, according to the verdict by the People's Court of Weng'an County. The other six, who had served official posts, were convicted of taking bribes and harboring gang members. They were sentenced to 3-12 years in prison, the court ruled.
Court investigations confirmed the gang had left dozens of people injured and caused serious damages to public and private assets between 1994 and June 2008, including 4 million yuan (585,652 U.S. dollars) in losses of state-owned mining resources. Members of the gang also participated in the violent protest on June 28 last year, mobbing government office buildings and setting fires to them.
Up to 30,000 people were involved in the protest sparked by the death of 17-year-old Li Shufen. Her family and relatives contended she was raped and killed, while an autopsy report said she drowned. About 160 offices and more than 40 vehicles were torched during the protest, while more than 150 police and protesters were injured. No deaths were reported.
The court will continue to hear cases against another 100 suspects involved in the gang crimes of Yushan.