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China: Africans Protest a Suspicious Death in Police Custody

Hundreds of Africans recently took to the street in Guangzhou's Sanyuanli District the day after the suspicious death of a fellow African while in police custody. The protesters demand the police to return the dead body to the African community for an independent autopsy.

It's estimated that there are as many as 200,000 Africans residing in Guangzhou. As a result of the ongoing nationwide campaign “to clean up foreign trash”, many Africans have been unable to renew their visas and have become illegal residents in China. The tension between Africans and police in Guangzhou has peaked in the so-called “chocolate city”, and the Nigerian community has now openly demanded that the Nigerian government set up a consulate in Guangzhou to “eliminate harassment”.

According to a Guangzhou police media briefing yesterday (June 19, 2012) [zh], a conflict between a taxi driver and an African passenger over the taxi fare took place on June 18 at around 1pm. Both persons were brought to the police station for further investigation. At around 5pm the same day, the African fell into a coma and died soon after.

An autopsy report found no signs of bodily injury, however Cam from interviewed a 26-year-old Nigerian resident of Guangzhou, Matouvu, who gives a different account of the taxi fare conflict and the Tuesday protest.

Protester holding a placard which reads “Give us the dead body!!!”. Image via Facebook User Konchog Yeshe.

Protester holding a placard which reads “Give us the dead body!!!”. Image via Facebook User Konchog Yeshe.

The African community has rejected the police report and demanded the dead body be returned so an independent autopsy can be arranged.

Chinese public opinion toward the protest is very diversified. Some are sympathetic to the protesters, while some are highly discriminative toward the African community. Below is a selection of some typical comments from one Weibo news thread [zh]:


@碧水涢天0712:Our fellow countryman often die unnaturally in police stations and there usually isn't any investigation. Now you do the same thing to foreigners, of course they will not react like Chinese and accept such practice.

@我拍死砖家:这就是纵容的结果!多年前,我在广东生活,亲眼见过很多黑人在我们 的国土上竟然胡作非为、肆无忌惮,我曾对朋友说:总有一天会养虎为患的。

@我拍死砖家:This is the result of indulgence! Many years ago, I lived in Guangzhou. I saw so many acts of misbehaving committed by black people. I told my friends that we're just feeding the tigers to bite us.


@黄猫sips:The Sino-African friendship that we bought with billions of yuan is now ruined.


@HeAvEn-Ko:we need to contain the black people in Guangzhou. The city is becoming more and more dangerous.


@隔世情缘franch:The number of black people in Guangzhou is a by-product of Guangzhou's Canton Fair trade exhibition. We're used to calling them brothers. They come from United Nation member states in Africa. We have provided a lot of aid to Africa and have a lot invested there. [Sino-African relations] will affect the security of overseas Chinese. If the incident turns into a diplomatic issue, it could have huge impact on China. Earlier on, when we started cracking down on illegal African residents here, overseas Chinese in Nigeria became the target of attacks. We have to be careful.


@阿笑儿_汤抖森中毒ing:If we don't resort to a hard-handed policy, the black people district will continue to expand. Send all the illegal residents back home. We should not just invest in Africa. If we don't have our own security forces, black people will mob Chinese like slaughtering sheep. Beat them up till they feel pain so that they will behave. As a permanent member of the United Nations, China spends a lot of money in Africa every year, so how come we still need to please them? We've been using the wrong approach since the very beginning and now we've become the loser.


@风过痕留:I wish all black people would leave China. China does not need their genes.

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