More than 20 high school students in the southern Chinese province of Guangzhou were injured in an attack by unidentified thugs wielding metal pipes after villagers tried to detain the grandson of a prominent local official for what they said was indecent behavior towards a schoolgirl, local residents and school officials said Tuesday,
Sunday’s attack occurred as the students of Haojiang No.2 High School in the southern port city of Shantou were watching an educational film, according to an employee who answered the phone at the school.
"More than 20 people were injured, and several of them had serious injuries and are still in the hospital," the employee said. "They didn't say a word, but just started beating people with water pipes."
"The government said, 'That's just the way it is,' and that we shouldn't make a fuss."
A resident of nearby Gechen village who declined to be named said that hundreds of villagers had taken to the streets to file a petition at local government offices following the attack.
"The students were watching a film organized by the school, and they were beaten up by unidentified men," the resident said. "After the parents heard about it, they went to the city government but they were prevented from getting through by the police."
Another village resident surnamed Chen said the incident had come after Li Fuyu, the grandson of local businessman and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference standing committee member Li Kesheng, had allegedly sexually assaulted and harassed a pupil at the school on Friday.
Li Fuyu and his three companions were caught in the act, and taken to the local village Party committee, where villagers tried to prevent his father from taking him away, as if nothing had happened.
Large numbers of police had descended on the village on Saturday, to "keep public order," Chen said. Li Fuyu was allowed to go home.
Chen said the incident wasn't Li Fuyu's first visit to the village.
"He had done so much in the past, too, like joyriding in the village, stealing people's cell phones, and harassing female students who were just getting out of school," he said.
"On June 8, he was caught by the villagers, and Li Kesheng's son tried to come and talk him out of trouble, saying he would call up the village Party secretary and village chief."
"The next day, the police and government officials came and took [Li Fuyu] away," Chen said.
He said the attack on the Haojiang high school students had come as villagers were still debating what to do about the sexual assault.
Chen said villagers believed it had been organized by Li Fuyu.
"[He] got together several dozen people, carrying pipes, and they surrounded a group of students from the No.2 high school, asking them if they were from Gechen village ... the students were afraid and said they were from the No. 2 high school ... so the hoodlums said they would beat them up."
"All of the Haojiang police force turned out to protect him and take him away again, and then with just a few hours, they had organized this mob to beat up the students—wouldn't you say that was cruel?"
"I have had death threats myself, and now I don't dare to leave my home," he said.
Chinese netizens have become increasingly angry over a string of crimes committed by the privileged children of Communist Party officials, not all of whom receive the punishments that ordinary Chinese think they deserve.
In January 2010, a court in the northern province of Hebei sentenced the son of a high-ranking police officer involved in a hit-and-run road accident to six years in prison in spite of calls for a much harsher punishment after he caused the death of a female student.
Li Qiming's case brought him nationwide notoriety because of his defiant outburst to officials and angry witnesses to the incident: "Go ahead, sue me. My father is Li Gang!" he reportedly told them.
Li's outburst sparked widespread rage and satirical attacks from Chinese netizens. Li Gang was the deputy chief of Baoding's Beishi district police bureau at the time.
Reported by Lin Jing for RFA's Cantonese service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.