I am very surprised to read about the large-scale riot happened in Wengan County, Guizhou Province on June 28th. Not believing an incident like this happened again in this already troubled year of 2008, I did some googling about the news. As expected, I received the “Connection Interrupted” error prompt in my browser, reminding me of the powerful presence of the Great Fire Wall. So I fired up a VPN connection and continued my search.
The riot or protest (you choose one word) was caused by the death of a fifteen year old girl who was a high school student in Wengan County. There are several versions about what actually happened, and I will start with the version from the official press conference (my rough translation):
At about 8 pm on June 21, Li Shufen (the victim) went out to dine with Liu Yantao and Chen Guanghan in the house of their mutual friend，a girl from another high school. Both Liu and Chen worked as interns of a local aluminum factory. At 11:30 pm, the group of four people went to the riverside to play. On the bridge, Li sat on the curb of the bridge and said, “Will I die if I jump over the bridge?” The other three persons present thought she was joking, and paid little attention to it, after casually persuading Li. Li went on, saying “If I didn’t die after the jumping, I will live a worthy life”, as Chen sat down chatting with the other girl, and Liu was doing some push-ups on the bridge. At 12:10 midnight, they heard the sound of water splashing, and found Li jumped into the water from over the bridge…
So according to the officials, the violence was organized by local gangsters and the mafia society harboring malicious intentions, along with the disgruntled families and relatives of the dead girl. Officials claimed in the news conference that all the three suspects are from rurual areas, and none of them have any connections with the party secretary of the county.
The description in the official report about the suspects doing push-ups instantly became a catch-phrase among Chinese netizens. The sudden popularity of the phrase “doing push-ups” suggests the some netizens’ doubt about the official news release, and the possible sightings of an on-going rape on the bridge by witnesses.
There are two versions on the Internet about what happened:
It is said the other girl at the scene is affiliated with some local official. Wang previously asked Li to help her cheat in an exam, but was refused by the victim, resulting the revenge by Wang. The local police dismissed the death of the girl as a suicide case, and released the suspects without thorough investigations. The angry students from both high schools (No. 4 and No. 1) demonstrated in the street, joined by locales and clashed with the police at several government buildings.
Another version goes like this:
The uncle of the girl tried to blackmail the three young persons who were with the girl when she committed suicide. He asked for a compensation of half of million Yuan (about $70,000) from them, but was refused. He then went to the local police station to report the crime, argued with and possibly attacked a policeman on duty. The uncle of the girl was beaten up and hospitalized by some people of unknown identities soon after he left the police station.
The highway from Guiyang, the capital city of Guizhou to Wengan County are said to be closed afterwards due to a “road cave-in”, according to some netizens who saw the road closure sign.
I am just writing here what I read on the Internet with a filtered and firewalled connection, and I don’t assume any responsibility for the accounts of these incident widely available on the Internet. A reader I am, and a reader I will continue to be.