No Word on Fate Of Beijing Airport Wheelchair Bomber

Chinese security personnel prevent media members from getting closer to the scene of the blast at Beijing's main airport, July 20, 2013.

Relatives of a disabled man who at the weekend set off an explosive device at Beijing's main airport in an apparent protest against police brutality say they had received no word of his fate on Monday, although official media said his original grievance case would be re-investigated.

"I really don't know where my brother is right now," Ji Zhongji, brother of "wheelchair bomber" Ji Zhongxing told RFA. "I don't know his [physical] condition."

He said the family had yet to receive any official notification from police regarding the fate of Ji, 33, from the eastern city of Heze, who detonated a home-made explosive while sitting on his wheelchair on Saturday, injuring himself and no one else at the exit area of the international arrivals section of Terminal 3.

"They haven't been to see us, we've had nothing," he said.

An official who answered the phone at the Beijing municipal police department declined to comment on the case.

"I don't know," the official said, when asked if Ji had been criminally detained. "You'll have to send a fax over, and someone here will answer your questions."

Complaints not taken seriously

Ji's brother blamed his apparent suicide bombing attempt on the refusal of the Chinese authorities to take his official complaints seriously.

Ji was severely beaten by police staff in 2005 when he had worked as a motorcycle driver in Dongguan in southern Guangdong province, causing him to become disabled, various reports have said. But the incident could not be independently verified.

"Our brother suffered a great deal of injustice," Ji Zhongji said. "He has been running around everywhere, day after day over this, but to no avail."

"Our family has had to spend a lot of money on his medical costs, and we have none left now."

He said the family had been unaware of Ji's plans to detonate the home-made device.

"When it happened, the family told me, and I just broke down when I saw it [on TV]," he said.


Video of the incident posted by a bystander online showed crowds of people gathering around a verbal confrontation in Beijing's Capital Airport on Saturday, then moving away after apparently being warned to do so by Ji.

An explosion then obscures the camera phone footage, and the phone owner begins to run.

Officials in Guangdong said they would look into Ji's allegations, official media reported on Sunday.

Ji, 34, was stopped by security staff when he tried to hand out leaflets outside Gate B of the airport's arrival hall on Saturday evening, the English-language China Daily newspaper reported.

Ji then warned people nearby to get away before he set off an explosive device in his bag, injuring himself and a policeman, the paper said.

According to his blog, which was inaccessible after the incident, Ji was attacked by police in Dongguan in the early hours of June 28, 2005, while he was carrying a passenger on his motorcycle.

Ji blamed the attack for causing spinal injuries which left him paralyzed.


The Dongguan municipal police department has denied that Ji's injuries were the result of police violence, saying he fell from his motorcycle in a collision with a policeman.

However, local publicity officials have backed up Ji's story.

Ji's blast protest came after he unsuccessfully sued the Dongguan government for compensation in January 2007, a decision that was upheld on appeal to the Dongguan Intermediate People's Court in January 2008.

Dongguan police say they paid 100,000 yuan (U.S.  $16,283) to Ji in compensation in March 2010, after he petitioned the central government in Beijing.

Netizens came out in broad support of Ji, according to posts on China's popular social media sites.

Big-name tweeter Zuoyeben, who has 6.52 million followers on Sina Weibo, wrote: "Each unjustly treated person is a ticking time-bomb for the whole country."

Beijing-based rights lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan called for an investigation from a higher level of government than Dongguan.

"This can only be investigated by a higher level, from Beijing," he said. "If Dongguan investigates, we'll never get to the bottom of it."

Father detained

Liu said Ji's father was reportedly under detention by Shandong police.

"I'm guessing they're afraid he'll come out and blab," he said.

Repeated calls to the Dongguan municipal propaganda department and Heze county government went unanswered during offfice hours on Monday.

Rights groups have hit out at the ruling Chinese Communist Party for keeping up a "stranglehold" on dissidents and rights activists in recent years, subjecting thousands to arbitrary detention in labor camps and unofficial "black jails."

China's army of petitioners—many of whom pursue complaints against the government over forced evictions, wrongful detention, physical attacks, and deaths in custody—are increasingly targeted by police and officials for punishment.

Many of those who pursue official complaints against government wrongdoing in their hometowns have done so to no avail for several years; some for decades. Many are middle-aged or elderly people with little or no income who rent ramshackle accommodation in Beijing's "petitioner villages."

Earlier this month, a petitions website set up by the Communist Party to handle public complaints crashed on its first day of operation, amid widespread speculation that the sheer number of petitioners had overloaded the server.

Reported by Lin Jing for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Xin Lin for the Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.


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