Sichuan police apologise for beating teacher
Mimi Lau in Guangzhou
Sichuan police have apologised to a middle school after one of its teachers was severely beaten by seven policemen who mistook him for a fugitive, even though students and teachers tried to intervene.
The policemen assaulted Yu Hui while he was about to enter an awards ceremony recognising him as an outstanding teacher in Shehong county on Tuesday. He is suffering from bleeding in his skull and is being treated in a local hospital.
Angry teachers and students took to the streets demanding an explanation from the county government. A Shehong county police spokesman said yesterday the beating had been caused by a misunderstanding because a suspect 'looked kind of similar' to the teacher. Yu fled the police because he thought they were robbers. The seven policemen have been suspended pending further investigation.
A senior teacher at the school said the county's public security chief had visited the school and apologised yesterday morning.
'The county public security chief, who is also the deputy county chief, apologised and bowed three times,' the teacher said. 'He admitted the police were at fault and vowed to punish the wrongdoers severely and take care of all necessary medical costs and compensation.
'We basically accepted their apology. After all, the incident had already happened so there is not much we can do now. But we asked to send at least four of our teachers and students to be part of their investigating team to monitor their progress. We need to make sure all evidence collected is genuine.'
More than 100 teachers and students at Shehong Middle School had gathered at a farmhouse restaurant for the awards ceremony.
Yu was attacked as he stepped out of a taxi.
State media said 'Yu and police officers clashed after Yu was mistaken as a fugitive', but photos posted online showed the policemen unharmed and Yu covered in blood and bruises. Many postings about the attack on internet forums and blogs have been removed.
The senior teacher said Yu was alone when the attack started.
'A plain-clothes officer tapped his shoulder and said: 'Brother, there's something I need to talk to you about.' But Yu thought he was a robber so he ran and the next thing he knew was that he was beaten severely by seven policemen,' the teacher said. 'He was screaming for his life and I've heard the beating lasted for about 30 minutes. Some teachers heard his screaming and rushed to help.'
The teacher said the whole school was very angry about the attack. Yu began working at the school right after graduating from university and had been an outstanding Chinese language teacher and a class teacher, he said. His students were very upset to learn that their teacher had been beaten so badly, but after the official meeting and apology, they had largely calmed down.
'We understand Yu is now being treated by a team of specialists and his situation is basically stable, but he's suffering from minor internal bleeding in his skull,' the senior teacher said. 'His doctor told us Yu shouldn't be suffering from long-term injury.
'On Tuesday evening, several dozen teachers went to the county government seeking an explanation of the incident. Other people gathered and joined them.'