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China: Mass incident sparked by a dead body

A Chinese google document has been set up to collect the most up-to-date information about the Shishou riot. Here is a translated summary of the blog posts via the google doc.

Background (by Subei via google doc)

On June 17th around 7:30, Xu Yuangao's body was found outside Yong Long hotel in Shishou city, Hubei province. Xu, 24, was the hotel's chef. Police investigated the scene and said that Xu had committed suicide. Xu's family, however, believed that he was murdered because there were no blood stains on the ground, but there were some obvious injuries in his body. Moreover, a similar incident had taken place two years prior. Rumor spread that local police and government officials had shares in the hotel.

The following day, the hotel told Xu's family that if they could agree with a report that Xu committed suicide, they could get 35,000 yuan in compensation. Instead, Xu's family insisted on finding out the truth and refused to hand over Xu's body. Xu's father then brought a gas container to the hotel to protect the body from being taking away.

[photo: father protecting the son's body]

At 1am on June 19, police and funeral cars arrived at the hotel, wanting to take the body away. 2,000 Shishou residents blocked the hotel entrance to protect Xu's corpse. The first confrontation between local residents and the police took place at 8am, during which some residents were arrested, while more joined in. At 1pm, several thousand local residents fought back with stones and bottles and the police line broke down. At 3pm, police failed again in seizing the dead body and the city government had to seek help from armed police. Eventually, Jingzhou sent a clan of armed police to back up. However, the number of local residents had reached more than 40,000 at its peak and the armed police had to retreat.

At night, there were still more than 10,000 residents blocking the hotel entrance and main roads leading to the hotel. At 2am on June 20, 500 police took action again and there was another confrontation. Dozens of local residents and polices were injured.

The city government began to cut Internet connections on the early morning of June 20. Another round of confrontation took place around 7am. This time police were equipped with 8 anti-riot vehicles and six fire engines. Thousands of local residents fought back with stone and bricks. Below are some video showing the confrontation scene:

The most update news from twitter via freemoren at around 10am on June 21 says that police had finally seized the dead body and transported it to the crematorium. Torrent from twitter has set up a twitter account @shishou for translating updates in English.

While overseas media such as Reuters and AFP have reported on the riot, Xinhua Chinese has a news story describing the confrontation and riot as an inter-departmental fire drill. The English-language has another version more sympathetic towards the protesters.

Below are some comments from twitter (via twitter search – shishou):

After tens of thousands of cops robbed people in #Shishou of a corpse, welcome to China ruled by Zombies.

Please help to spread the news of the riot in Shishou. Their lives are in danger, Chinese people need your help! #ShishouRiot #Shishou

FUCK! Shishou riots reported in Chinese media as “bus fire extinguishing exercises”. How low can those in power go?


  • 11

    The photo of father protecting the son’s body made me cry…Yesterday was Father’s Day,but what could he get?

  • janhalcion

    Iranians and Chinese take to the streets in order to take on their corrupt governments. Westerners take to the internet and write sternly worded blog entries while letting their govenments rob them of the rights their forefathers fought so hard to gain for them.

    You’ve got to love consumerist societies. People cheer on others fighting and giving up their lives in order to gain basic human right and democracy for themselves. All the while sitting by idly as George Bush steals and election and the west becomes mired in stifling copyright laws.

    Blogging and tweeting are good, but they aren’t what are going to win the fights for the Iranians and Chinese. Taking to the streets is going to do that.

    • Bas

      Good points.

      However, you’re still writing.

    • Joe H

      I think Westerners are more content that if something like copyright laws starts to really offend them, there’s a system in place for them to change it. I’m not saying I have 100% confidence in that system, but I think it’s a factor and not just due to consumerism making everyone dumb and lazy. Even with Bush, although about 50% their country hated that he was elected, they were confident that he COULD be gone in 4 years (I know he wasn’t, but the second election he flat out won).

      Unfortunately, I’d guess even taking to the street is going to win many fights for the Chinese. In recent years we’ve generally been seeing these riots in small cities and rural areas, but people in the big cities are making money and seem pretty happy about it. Too happy to do anything that might upset the flow of RMB.

  • Those people who are standing up against grave injustice exhibit one of the best qualities of humanity.

  • Bas

    Technology will create transparency and will bring down regimes like this. Just look at Iran right now.

    At #11, Father’s Day is not celebrated in every country.

  • […] death of a chef triggered a mass protest that finally brought over ten thousand armed police into the town for crackdown. The dead’s […]

  • Joe H

    More blatant local corruption in China. If Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao were really serious about ending all this corruption, the Fed would step in and mediate during these situations where there’s obviously something fishy going on. Instead they are content to let local governments crack down and cover it all up to save face for everyone (i.e., party members). What an insult to the Chinese citizens involved.

    When are the Chinese going to get a real leader that they don’t have to be ashamed of?

  • r wilkinson


  • John

    This is what happens when you have a bunch of trained monkeys that love the government instead of loving the country.

    Chinese DESERVE this, you reap what you sow! You want to complain when Tibetans riot against the government but when other Han Chinese do it it’s OK? You want to boycott foreign companies when they stand up for the rights of Chinese people (e.g. before the olympics), well THIS IS WHAT YOU GET.

    China, you have made your own future, don’t blame the government, YOU GAVE THEM THEIR POWER! REMEMBER!?!?!?

  • […] of information about the riots outside of Shishou. Interestingly, the new social networking tool Twitter was used in Shishou to update observers of  developments in both English and Chinese, further undermining government attempts to isolate the unrest. Twitter has gained much notoriety […]

  • […] morte di un cuoco ha scatenato una protesta di massa [in] che alla fine ha portato oltre diecimila poliziotti armati in città per reprimerla. I […]

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