Net rallies for teen on stab charge

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 June, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 June, 2010, 12:00am

The charging of a teenager who stabbed a hired thug to death for trying to intimidate villagers involved in a land dispute has sparked a wave of sympathy on the internet.

Zhao Mingyang , 16, from a small village in Fushun , Liaoning , was among about 200 petitioners who were on their way to a township government agency to report on allegedly corrupt local officials on October 9, the Beijing Times reported yesterday.

They were going to complain about the head of Xiaowa village and its party chief, whom they accused of embezzling 6.96 million yuan (HK$7.94 million) in compensation owed to them for the requisitioning of their land, the report said.

On the way, their vehicles were stopped by a dozen hired thugs carrying knives and hoes. One villager was beaten by the men and Zhao ran after one of them, Li Xiaolong . He hacked Li in the arm, chest and abdomen and Li died before police and ambulances arrived.

The report said Li was among some 20 people hired by the party chief to intimidate villagers who wanted to lodge complaints with higher authorities. It also said several hired thugs had broken into Zhao's home the night before and threatened him and his mother with a knife, ordering them not to join in the petitioning, which his father had helped plan.

Zhao, nicknamed 'lamb' by fellow villagers, has been charged with intentional injury, while the head of the village and the party chief have also been detained, the report said.

Since the incident, more than 900 villagers have signed a petition urging the authorities to release Zhao.

News of Zhao's indictment created a wave of sympathy on the internet, with more than 1,500 postings mostly applauding his action. The report did not say when Zhao was charged.

'He killed a villain for the people, good job!' said one. 'Here is a hero who fought for justice, we should learn from him,' said another.

The online reactions to the killing were reminiscent of those in the case of Yang Jia , a young man who stabbed six policemen to death in 2008. Yang, who was subsequently convicted and executed, also attracted widespread sympathy.

Academics say the public support for those who dare take revenge against officials reflects a dangerous level of bottled-up resentment.

Violent attacks against those who have power also highlight the lack of pressure-release valves under an authoritarian government, where ordinary people have little say about what happens to them.