Violence and graft rife in county, say residents

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 June, 2008, 12:00am

Locals say Wengan , a remote county in Guizhou where a massive riot broke out on Saturday against the way the local authorities handled the death of a schoolgirl, is rife with corruption and violence.

'Public order is really bad here. Fights or scuffles happen frequently. Police vehicles patrol whenever it's dark. I never see this in the downtown areas of other counties,' a blogger, who said he had been working in the county as a history teacher for almost a year, wrote months ago.

The writer, who gave his name as Li Kun, said in an article entitled 'Impressions of Wengan' that when he first arrived in the county he thought it was a peaceful area, free of noise.

But after he had settled in a few days later, the young man who graduated from a university in the capital city of Guiyang two years ago, realised he had been mistaken. Public security was bad, the area was home to gangsters and awash with counterfeit cash. The environment was poor, prices were high and local leaders incompetent at their jobs, he writes.

Mr Li's viewpoint is echoed by a schoolgirl in the area. The girl, who declined to give her name, said yesterday that this year a high school girl had strangled one of her classmates with her shoelaces.

Apart from that, she also pointed out several explosions had taken place in the remote county over the past few years.

Four explosions had occurred in the central district of Wengan county in the fortnight between September 12 and September 26 last year, according to the Guizhou Metropolis Daily.

According to a report from Guiyang Evening News, a girl from Wengan No3 Middle School who had been out with her boyfriend in the early hours of July 16 last year, had been attacked and gang raped by thugs. Her boyfriend had been assaulted and the couple were robbed of their cash, jewellery and phones.

A police officer who chased off the attackers was stabbed and seriously wounded.

Rumours circulated online saying the 15-year-old schoolgirl at the centre of Saturday's massive protest had been raped and was one of several victims. Spurred on by Saturday's unrest, local netizens could hardly contain their outrage and vented anger at corrupt local officials and the Communist Party behind them.

A post written on a local bulletin board asked, 'Whose regime is this? Whose 'police' are these? It is likely the uprising had the support of civilians. But the most miserable thing is that ordinary people are not armed, so they will eventually be crushed by others like ants. They will have to face machine guns, artillery or tanks, if they refuse to compromise with the authority.'

Authorities said most of the people involved in the riot had no idea of the circumstances and had been exploited by others. But one surfer countered, 'There's a well known saying 'the masses have sharp eyes'. I think someone is not telling the truth.'

Some said the party was morally degenerate and called for political reform, saying it was the only way to get rid of corruption in the country.