News / Asia

Shanghai Residents Demand Justice for Petitioner Death

FILE - Workers rest as they demolish an old residential site in the center of Shanghai, September 15, 2013. FILE - Workers rest as they demolish an old residential site in the center of Shanghai, September 15, 2013.
FILE - Workers rest as they demolish an old residential site in the center of Shanghai, September 15, 2013.
FILE - Workers rest as they demolish an old residential site in the center of Shanghai, September 15, 2013.
VOA News
Some 600 protesters gathered in front of a Shanghai district police headquarters this week to demand justice for a local petitioner who they say suffered fatal injuries while in police custody.

Shen Yong, a resident of Shanghai's financial district of Pudong, was taken from his home earlier this month by police. He was released two hours later barely breathing. His son, Shen Yaming, says that he died shortly after.

“My father was beaten to death, I saw his body and the upper side was all covered in bruises,” he said.

Shen Yong had started petitioning after his home was forcibly demolished in 2008. Since earlier this year, he had occupied a vacant lot in the same district where his home had been. Authorities accused him of squatting, and say that the complex owner had repeatedly notified Shen and his family to move out.

On Monday, Shen's friends and other human rights activists went to the Pudong Public Security Bureau to demand authorities investigate allegations of foul play and police brutality in Shen's death. Among them was Kong Lingzhen, who also saw Shen's body and volunteered to report to the police as a witness.

According to activists who were at the rally, police detained about 100 people - including Kong, who is 63 years old and disabled.

“A killing has to be investigated, so I went with them on the 28th. I went to speak with the criminal police and I was attacked, they said they would detain me for ten days,” he said.

Kong said that because of his poor health and high blood pressure, the police released him early the next morning.

Human Rights in China - a Hong Kong based human rights group - said eight participants were still in police custody on Wednesday. Activists reached in Shanghai confirmed at least four people were being held by police.

Shanghai petitioner Mao Hengfeng also participated in the demonstration. She said that only by actively demanding justice, similar tragedies can be avoided in the future.

“We need each ordinary citizen in China to understand the gravity of a corrupt government that kills a man like this,” she said. “Today they casually kill Shen Yong, but tomorrow it could be us.”

Mao Hengfeng has been active in the Chinese human rights movement for many years, and has a history of challenging the authorities over some of their most controversial practices, including forced abortions and forced demolitions.

She said, as in past incidents, she has been overtly threatened by authorities in this case.

“They told me in so many words: the next to be beaten to death is Mao Hengfeng.”

The Chinese government has set up specific offices and hotlines through which citizens can redress abuses from local governments. But petitioners say the system is designed to fail and a very small number of cases get resolved through the official channel.

Land requisition, forced evictions and unfair compensation are major sources of unrest in China, where there is no privately owned land and local governments rely heavily on land sales for their operating revenues.

Shanghai-based economist and self-taught human rights lawyer Feng Zhenghu said the property development of the city of Shanghai has benefited the interests of the local government and developers, at the expense of residents' rights.

Forced demolitions used to be widespread, he says, and people had little bargaining room to push for a better deal.

“But now large scale development, at least within the city, has pretty much finished,” he said. “The situation is somewhat better now, but if past issues have not been resolved, they will continue to be problems.”

Two days after Shen Yong's death, the Pudong district government information office released a statement saying that Shen became unconscious and died of a sudden illness and the body did not show marks of external injuries.

“Should the family have further demands, they can ascertain the cause of death through an autopsy report,” the statement read.

Shen's son, Shen Yaming, said in an interview with VOA that criminal police from the Pudong district said it will take more than a month to have the final autopsy report.

He said his family will be satisfied if the report shows the truth of what happened, and explains the injuries he saw on his father's body.

You May Like

Pakistan Among Developing Countries Hit Hard by Global Warming

Pakistani officials hope developed nations agree to scale back emissions, offer help in dealing with climate change

Video Speed, Social Media Shape Counterterrorism Probes

Speed is critical in effort to prevent subsequent attacks; demographics of extremists lend themselves to communicating, establishing profiles on digital platforms

Islamic State Oil Trade Seduces Friends, Foes Alike

Terrorist group rakes in up to $500 million a year in sales to customers such as Syrian government, US-supported rebels and Turkey

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigationsi
Katherine Gypson
December 01, 2015 10:06 PM
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigations

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Russia Marks World AIDS Day With Grim News

While HIV infection rates have steadied or even declined in many European countries, the caseload has grown rapidly in Russia, as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow. Over half of the new infections were transmitted through injection drug use.

Video Pakistan Hit Hard by Global Warming

As world leaders meet in Paris to craft a new global agreement aimed at cutting climate-changing greenhouse-gas emissions, many developing countries are watching closely for the final results. While most developing nations contribute much less to global warming than developed countries, they often feel the effects to a disproportionate degree. As Saud Zafar reports from Karachi, one such nation is Pakistan. Aisha Khalid narrates his report.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

VOA Blogs