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HindustanTimes Tue,16 Sep 2014

World

Beijing airport blast sparks concerns over way of protests
PTI
Beijing, July 21, 2013
First Published: 14:36 IST(21/7/2013)
Last Updated: 14:38 IST(21/7/2013)

The bomb attack by a paralysed man in a wheelchair, with grievances against police, at the Beijing International Airport has sparked off concerns over the lengths marginalised Chinese people go to highlight their plight in a closed political system.

Ji Zhongxing, a motorcycle taxi driver from Heze city, Shandong province, was paralysed from waist below after receiving beating at the hands of police in 2005.

He first attempted to distribute fliers to highlight his grievance near the arrival lounge of the airport last evening before setting off the homemade explosives causing serious injuries to his arm.

Some reports say his left arm has been amputated.

A report by state-run Xinhua news agency said Ji, 34, tried to distribute leaflets "to draw attention to his complaints" near the B exit before igniting the bomb.

The Beijing News newspaper on Sunday quoted several witnesses as saying Ji repeatedly yelled "I have a bomb, stay away from me" before the bomb was detonated.

As the explosion filled the place with thick smoke, China's famed microblog networks came into play, instantly flashing the pictures taken by onlookers on their mobile phones, breaking the news of the blast at the airport and putting pressure on the official media.

Internet users quickly uncovered Ji's identity and his microblog account on Sina Weibo, in which he complained about being left paralysed.

The migrant worker said he was driving a motorcycle taxi in the Dongguan village of Xintang when they attacked him.

Significantly, he chose the internationally famous airport as his target to highlight his plight to make a maximum impact both at home and abroad. Last month Chen Shuizong, 59, a native of Xiamen city walked into crowded passenger bus dragging a can of gasoline and blew it up, causing a massive fire in which 47 people including Chen were killed and 37 injured.

Like Ji, Chen took the desperate measure to highlight his plight of not being able to receive social security insurance because police made an error while recording his age and they didn't treat his problem seriously.

"I have been to the police station 56 times but they still haven't solved my problem," Chen said in his microblog account before resorting to the suicidal attack.

Chinese government last night announced a $1.46 lakh compensation for the family of Deng Zhengjia, a 56 year old watermelon farmer from Chenzhou city who died due to heavy beating by "Chengguan" few days ago for selling his melons at a prohibited spot.

His death sparked off riots in the city prompting the government to immediately launch disciplinary proceedings against six police officers.

Many say that disgruntled and marginalised people turning to suicide attacks to highlight their neglected political and economic rights in a closed political set up putting pressure on the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) to open up.

Commenting on the incident Shi Shusi, an editor at the Workers Daily, noted on a microblog that there had been many cases in the past year of frustrated people resorting to violence over disputes with local officials.

"For whom does the alarm bell ring?" Shi wrote in her blog.

The Human Rights Watch in its recent report said they (Chengguan) are engaged in "abusive conduct" fuelling public resentment.

The report documents abuses including assaults, illegal detention and confiscation of property and added that the force's "thuggish" behaviour had led to public anger and undermined stability.

"Chengguan forces have earned a reputation for brutality and impunity," Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch (HRW) told BBC in May this year.

"They are now synonymous for many Chinese citizens with physical violence, illegal detention and theft," he said.


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