Authorities in the southern province of Guangdong have rejected a request to review a complaint filed by a Chinese man who detonated a home-made bomb in Beijing's airport to protest police beating that had confined him to a wheelchair for nearly a decade.
Ji Zhongxing, who was sentenced to six years' imprisonment in October for the airport explosion, says he was crippled in an act of police brutality after being stopped and beaten while riding a motorcycle in the southern Chinese city.
Ji, 34, had requested that the authorities review his original complaint about the beating, and pursue the officers responsible.
But the Guangdong Provincial People's High Court responded this week by saying that the investigation of Ji's allegations was beyond its jurisdiction, as it constitutes a criminal investigation, his lawyer, Beijing-based Liu Xiaoyuan, said.
"In the past there have been citizens who requested that the courts make public investigations into officials keeping mistresses or engaging in corruption, and the intermediate court accepted it and held a hearing," Liu said.
"Now, all Ji Zhongxing is asking for is for them to make certain information public."
"I think Ji Zhongxing's case has the potential for huge repercussions, and that they are afraid that if they hold a hearing, the media will be there asking questions, and the general public will take notice," Liu added.
He said the court's decision was "against the rules," but that the decision suggested that Ji's original complaint had never been investigated by the Dongguan police department in the first place.
"I think the Dongguan municipal government is dragging its feet, so that people gradually forget about the Ji Zhongxing bombing incident," Liu said.
"They probably didn't take responsibility for it in the year the complaint was made, so now they are trying to stall for time," he added.
Ji was sentenced in October by the Chaoyang District People's Court in Beijing to prison for "intentionally causing an explosion" in the Beijing Capital International Airport on July 20.
He attended his trial on a stretcher, and appeared to have sustained deep burns from the blast, while one police officer reportedly sustained minor injuries.
U.S.-based rights activist Liu Qing said Ji's case had come to symbolize the widespread oppression of ordinary people.
"This shows what a tragic situation ordinary people are in, and how little power they have to do anything about it," Liu said. "They are persecuted and bullied, but they have no right to speak out, nor anywhere to be heard when they do."
"Anyone who tries to talk reason [to the authorities] will suffer even worse persecution, even to the point of death, to keep them in line," he said. "So eventually, some people use extreme tactics."
Cell phone video of the July 20 bombing incident showed Ji calling on bystanders to stand clear ahead of the blast, and his action drew widespread sympathy online, where public anger is mounting over brutal law enforcement tactics.
Series of explosions
Activists say a series of blasts in public places in China in recent months are symptomatic of deep social tensions and injustice that have no immediate solution.
On Nov. 6, a series of explosions outside the provincial headquarters of the ruling Communist Party in the northern province of Shanxi province killed at least one person and injured eight others.
Chinese authorities have kept up a "stranglehold" on petitioners and rights activists in recent years, subjecting thousands to arbitrary detention in labor camps and unofficial "black jails," rights groups say.
While China's parliament last weekend voted to formally abolish the widely criticized "re-education through labor" system of administrative punishment, lawyers say they fear similar forms of arbitrary detention will replace it.
Reported by Lin Jing for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Xi Wang for the Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.