10,000 riot after inspectors beat flower seller to death

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 June, 2007, 12:00am

More than 10,000 Chongqing residents clashed with police after city inspectors beat up a pair of flower sellers, one of whom later died, witnesses said yesterday.

Chongqing authorities issued a gag order on local media after the riots last Sunday and the news was only leaked to the internet yesterday. The riot, believed to be one of the most serious in the city for years, brought traffic to a standstill for eight hours, residents said.

Witness Zhang Yan said the riot was triggered by the inspectors' brutal law-enforcement.

A couple in their 50s, who sell flowers on the streets, were caught and beaten up by them.

'It happened about 9am. They were scared and broke into a run after seeing eight inspectors coming,' Ms Zhang said.

'But the officers chased them and beat them until they lay in a pool of blood.

'The violence shocked many residents nearby, including relatives of the victims, students from Chongqing Eleventh Middle School and passers-by.

'Hundreds of police arrived and they backed the inspectors. People started to gather to protest and more and more residents joined in.'

Ms Zhang said the couple had only reached hospital five hours later because of the traffic jams caused by the thousands of people who had gathered at the scene. She said the husband died the next day in hospital from serious internal bleeding, and his wife had broken ribs.

Textile worker Zhou Dan said a schoolgirl from the Eleventh Middle School, who criticised the inspectors' brutality, had been beaten up by police at the scene.

A teacher from the school yesterday refused to confirm the injury, while the Nanan Police Bureau and the Danzishi police station, which oversees the areas where the riots broke out, declined to comment.

The protest in Chongqing is one of several to have been triggered by brutal law enforcement. Three days after the riot, a similar protest broke out in Zhengzhou , Henan province . More than 1,000 students protested about the police's decision to reject complaints over the beating of a female student by city inspectors.