Breaking News: 70,000-strong Protest in China’s Hubei Province Met by Riot Police
70,000-strong Protest in China’s Hubei Province Met by Riot Police
In China’s Hubei province, as many as 70,000 residents from Shishou city have been protesting in the streets starting June 19, and continuing through today, June 20.
As these mobile phone videos and still images show, there have been repeated confrontations between residents and police. Police in riot gear are using anti-riot vehicles and fire trucks, tossing tear gas grenades into the crowd, and spraying high-pressure water hoses at residents. Residents are fighting back by hurling rocks, bricks, and glass bottles.
According to reports, the deputy governor of Hubei province rushed to Shishou, and army troops from Yueshan in Henan province are being deployed to the area.
As of Saturday, June 20, the scene was in chaos, with residents overturning police and fire vehicles.
The Conflict Begins with a Hotel Employee’s Death
The uprising began when police tried to take away the dead body of an employee of the Yonglong Hotel. The deceased is a 24-year-old cook named Tu Yuangao.
Mr. Tu died mysteriously at the hotel on June 17. He fell from a third story window and was pronounced dead. However, there was no blood at the scene of the fall, and residents say that upon close examination, there were seven bloody holes in his head. Residents speculate that the cook had been beaten or tortured to death first, and then thrown from the third floor window.
According to a report in the Chinese-language Epoch Times, Mr. Tu was killed after finding out that the hotel owner, the head of the local public security bureau, and the wife of the head of the court were smuggling and selling drugs.
After Mr. Tu’s death, the hotel owner refused to meet the dead man’s family, and barred the doors to the hotel. Later, the family and indignant city residents smashed the doors open.
On June 18, the family was told that the death was a suicide. That evening, there was an attempt to forcibly take the body to the funeral parlor to be cremated. Police had tried repeatedly to convince the family to have the body cremated, but the family refused to have the body cremated until the doubts in the death had been unraveled.
The father of the victim and sympathetic locals soon gathered at the hotel. On June 19 and 20, the numbers of supportive residents increased, and they clashed with police who were there to take the body. According to eyewitnesses, the number of people was estimated at around 70,000 at the highest point (this figure is unconfirmed).
News media from Jinzhou were attempting to go cover the story in Shishou, but the local authorities shut down the ferry in order to keep the area isolated from outside media.