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Unrest in Beijing Over Mysterious Death of Young Woman

A rare protest in Beijing involving hundreds of people was documented by photos posted on China’s social media (scroll down to see a sample photo). The cause of the protest was the death of a twenty-two-year-old migrant worker, who fell several stories from an apparels wholesale market building in Beijing on May 3. The police declared that she committed suicide, a conclusion that her boyfriend and family found improbable. Instead, the girl was rumored to have been sexually attacked before her death.

Yuan Liya

According to tweets from media outlets including Daily News (@每日新闻报) of the girl’s native Anhui Province, Yuan Liya worked several jobs to support her impoverished family, including a late night shift at the wholesale market. The police reportedly refused her family’s request to see surveillance videos from the market and pressured them to consent to a quick cremation of her body.

A rare protest in Beijing involving hundreds of people was documented by photos posted on China’s social media.

“Yuan Liya” and the name of the market, “Jingwen,” have become censored search terms on Sina Weibo and other social media sites. Multiple threads discussing the case have been deleted. The official account of Beijing police department (@平安北京) posted a short statement on May 10 insisting that an investigation supports the suicide conclusion and denying that she was sexually attacked or had been murdered. However, the vast majority of the 10,000 comments on the tweet expressed doubt of the police’s conclusion. One user tweeted, “The capital is where the privileged class gets together, and the ordinary people who dare to resist [criminal behavior] become involved in all sorts of ‘accidents,’ and their cases always get closed due to a ‘lack of evidence.’”

Censorship has led Internet users to use creative ways to spread information about the case. One user tweeted:

Today, an incident took place in the southern Washington DC area, a woman from the state of Texas, named Liya Yuan, was pushed from a building to her death after a gang rape. Since the suspect has a powerful background, the FBI claimed that the surveillance system was not working and concluded that she committed suicide. The Texans got angry and protested. Washington DC sent armed police to maintain stability, including helicopters and traffic rerouting, and censored related posts on Facebook and Twitter.

Another user connected Yuan’s case to the 1995 attempted murder case that recently gripped Chinese social media,

The Yuan case is similar to Zhu Ling’s case, as both involve the public’s mistrust of social justice and judicial fairness after persecution by the powerful and inappropriate handling by the government… Would the so-called Chinese dream be as nightmarish as reality?
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Law, Media