Calm has returned to a village in southwestern China after riots over the deaths of a teenage girl and her uncle who complained about the investigation. Now the Chinese authorities are asking those who participated in the rioting to turn themselves in.
The state-run China Daily newspaper on Monday reported that 10,000 protesters had taken to the streets due to "officials' alleged attempt to cover up a murder case of a girl student". A dissident Web site, Boxun.com, published a photo of a public notice ordering those involved in the rioting in the province of Guizhou, in southwestern China, to turn themselves in.
“The town is still surrounded by the police”, said FRANCE 24’s correspondent in China, Sébastien Le Belzic. “Human rights organizations say that 200 people are in jail and more than 150 people were injured in the riots”, he added.
On Saturday, thousands of people set fire to public buildings, burned cars and fought the police. The demonstrators were reacting to the official investigation into the death of a 15-year-old girl. While the police investigation concluded that it was a suicide, Internet postings say the girl was raped and killed by the son of a local official, and that the police are covering up.
An uncle of the victim was unconvinced by the results of the investigation. But he could not pursue his personal investigation because he too died in police custody, residents told the AFP. “Her uncle, who was beaten up by the police or thugs paid by the police, died on Saturday”, one resident said. It was the news of his death that provoked these riots. “Since the uncle was a teacher at a local school, dozens of students went to the police to ask what happened, and there some of them were beaten up. After that, they started burning police cars and local centres”, she added.
Local Chinese media carried no reports of the rioting over the weekend, and it was not until Monday that the China Daily published a few lines about the incident, confirming that 10,000 protesters had marched in the streets.
But numerous amateur videos and photographs of the riots appeared on the internet, spreading news of the riots across China and the world.
“This shows the new power of the internet in China,” says Le Belzic. “It’s becoming a kind of counter-power in China – perhaps the only counter-power to the official line. There are more than 210 million internet users in China – making it the second nation in the world for internet usage – and these internet users are making the government afraid.”
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