Hundreds in Fujian Protest Death in Police Custody


2003-12-03
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Hundreds of villagers in the southeastern Chinese province of Fujian have protested outside local government offices at the death in police custody of a 27-year-old man from their county, RFA's Cantonese service reports.

Chen Sitao, a resident of Haidao village, was taken into custody by the local Public Security Bureau (PSB) officer Nov. 27 after a scuffle outside a karaoke parlor, Chen's uncle told RFA in an interview.

"The next day someone went to the police station to ask after him because they thought he had been beaten to death by police, and they demanded an investigation. Then, when the police station refused to initiate an autopsy, more than 100 people protested at the local government offices," he said.

A second protest involving more than 500 local residents occurred Nov. 29, Chen's uncle said, because the local government had made no move towards an autopsy. "The issue was only made clear when the [Xiapu] county government sent someone, and the county leader came in person," he added.

"In the early hours of the morning of Nov. 30, they performed an autopsy and discovered extensive bleeding from internal organs, from the lungs, and trauma and bleeding in the gut," Chen's uncle said. "There was obvious internal trauma, and most importantly, there was bleeding from the back of the head.

He said the Haidao village PSB official frequently beat people whom he had detained, but this was the first time he had beaten anyone to death. The PSB said it would need another two weeks to reach a conclusion on the case, he said.

Reports of beating deaths by police are common throughout China, mostly linked to corrupt practices within the PSB or local government officials, who frequently regard the PSB as their private thugs.

In October, police in the eastern province of Shandong beat to death a 33-year-old woman, a member of an unofficial Christian church, after her family refused to pay bribes for her release.

In the same month, villagers in Xinxing county in the southern province of Guangdong told RFA that a farmer, Sun Zhichai, was beaten to death by police when he took part in a protest over an attempt by local government to evict villagers from their land. Three farmers remain in police custody for protesting Sun's death.

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