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“We Could All Be the Next Lei Yang” – Chinese Netizens on the Lei Yang Case

Some netizens already call it one of the biggest controversies of the year. The death of the 29-year-old environmentalist Lei Yang while in police custody has sparked online outrage, with many connecting this fatality to police brutality. Now Lei’s wife has stepped forward, demanding answers from Beijing authorities on the circumstances surrounding her husband’s death.

Manya Koetse

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Some netizens already call it one of the biggest controversies of the year. The death of the 29-year-old environmentalist Lei Yang – while in police custody – has sparked online outrage, with many connecting this fatality to police brutality. Now Lei’s wife has stepped forward, demanding answers from Beijing authorities on the circumstances surrounding her husband’s death.

The death of the 29-year-old Beijing resident and environmentalist Lei Yang (雷洋) has sparked national outrage, with many Chinese suspecting that police violence led to his death.

According to police statements, Lei Yang was arrested for visiting a brothel (featured image) and died while resisting his arrest. Camera recordings of his arrest were reportedly unavailable after the police phone device that was used for filming the arrest broke down. But Lei’s family is not satisfied with police reports on the circumstances that led to Lei’s death. Lei just had a baby two weeks earlier and was on the way to the airport to pick up relatives.

581338665853369164CCTV interviewing Lei’s family.

The wife of Lei Yang headed to Beijing’s prosecutor’s office with her lawyer on Tuesday, May 17, demanding further investigation into her husband’s death. She also filed a complaint for abuse of power, forgery of evidence, and physical assault. According to the complaint report that circulated on Chinese social media, she alleges that the prostitution story was a setup and that her husband was beaten to death.

Lei Yang Incident

At around 9.00 pm on Saturday night, May 7 2016, Lei Yang left home to pick up some relatives from Beijing airport who came to visit from Hunan to see Lei’s newborn baby girl. On the way to the airport, somewhere between 21:04 and 21:16, Lei arrived near the location of a foot massage parlor, coming from Longjin 3rd Street (these two places and exact times were confirmed through monitoring data according to a Chinese newsblog).

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It was within this time frame that Lei was arrested by 5-6 plainclothes officers, allegedly for purchasing sexual services. Shanghai Daily reports that several witnesses saw Lei running from the undercover policemen and screaming for help immediately before his arrest.

According to one officer, Lei had “stopped resisting and was very quiet” in the car on the way to the police station. About 50 minutes after Lei was taken to the Changping district police station, he was rushed to a nearby hospital. Within two hours after his arrest, at 22:55, Lei was pronounced dead.

Family members were notified of Lei’s death at 1:00 am. According to family members who could see Lei’s body under police supervision, he was bruised on his head and arms, and also had other injuries. According to SCMP, they were not allowed to take pictures of the body.

Police state that no excessive force was used during Lei’s arrest, and that DNA evidence from a condom suggests that Lei indeed visited the brothel.

“Sudden death of suspect”

The Changping police station has responded to the incident through its official Weibo account, where they released an offical statement on May 9 and May 11 on the “sudden death of a suspect for prostitution”.

According to the police statement, undercover officers went to the massage parlor after getting a tip about prostitution activities and caught five men visiting prostitutes at the scene. The statement then says that one of suspects, Lei Yang, violently resisted his arrest and bit one of the policemen. During the course of this struggle, the camera equipment of the officer fell and broke. In the car on the way to the police station, Lei allegedly tried to kick the driver and attempted to escape, and had to be controlled and restrained with handcuffs. When the police later discovered his body was lifeless, Lei was taken to the hospital.

This police statement shows much resemblance to a similar case that took place in the Netherlands in 2015 when an Arubian man died during a violent police arrest. Although local police initially stated the man lost consciousness in the car on the way to the station, bystander footage later showed the man already was unconscious during his arrest (story and video).

The Changping police statements on Weibo received over 32.800 comments, with many netizens pleading for evidence.

Social media reactions

The Lei Yang incident has drawn much controversy on Chinese social media for the past week, with many netizens arguing for a thorough investigation of the case. Some Weibo users complained that their posts about the issue were being deleted by censors.

One netizen called Mr. Lu says: “I don’t care if this gets censored, but since Lei Yang’s wife and her lawyer have taken action, you hear all kinds of things coming from the police about visiting prostitutes so and so, but the fact remains that he died. No matter what crime he committed, this family has the right to call his death into question, and we support this right!”

Some netizens stress the importance of this case: “The Lei Yang Case is already the most important incident of 2016. For the people, for the government, for the police, for the media, and for lawmakers.”

There are also netizens who do not find Lei’s death suspicious: “Why is his sudden death so unlikely?” one netizen wonders: “There are people suddenly dying every day, why could this not be the case now?”

Although it is unsure what exactly happened on May 7, most netizens just want to know the truth: “Without investigation, there is no truth. Without the truth, we could be the next Lei Yang.”

“We are angry and scared because we all could be the next Lei Yang,” another Weibo user says: “We follow this case because of our sense of justice, but also because we’re afraid and angry. In a society without respect for life and no dignity and human rights, we could all be led to our death by police – whether we’re visiting a prostitute or not.”

A Shaanxi public security bureau also responded to the case through their Weibo account, saying: “There are many people online who call the voice of the police into question. As colleagues of the Changping police, we analyze this case from a legal and objective point of view, and we will fight back rumors.”

In the meantime, China Daily reports that an autopsy on Lei’s body has been carried out, and that results are expected to be released within 20 days.

– By Manya Koetse

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Local News

Delivery Man in Anhui Run Over by Ambulance Sent to Rescue Him

From bad to worse: this Eleme delivery man was run over by an ambulance after being hit by an SUV.

Manya Koetse

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On April 12, a delivery man in the city of Bozhou, Anhui province, was run over by an ambulance arriving at the scene of an accident where he had just been injured.

Shocking footage circulating on Chinese social media shows the delivery man lying in the middle of the road when the ambulance arrives and runs over his leg. The incident happened around 12:00 in the afternoon (link to video, viewer discretion advised).

While the delivery man already suffered injuries because he was hit by an SUV shortly before, things quickly went from bad to worse when the ambulance that was supposed to come to his rescue crushed his leg. The man is currently undergoing treatment at a local hospital in Mengcheng county.

Statement on Weibo by the official Mengcheng county account (@蒙城发布).

According to recent news reports, the ambulance driver has currently been suspended and is under investigation.

The incident received a lot of attention on Weibo today, where the hashtag page discussing the double accident received over 150 million views (#外卖员被救护车二次碾压#).

Many comments relating to this incident are focused on the role of the traffic police at the scene of the accident, with people wondering why there was no guard standing next to the victim.

Thousands of commenters also address how sorry they feel for the victim, especially because the lives of many food delivery drivers – facing long working hours and low wages – is already tough enough.

According to Toutiao News (头条新闻), the delivery man works for Chinese food delivery giant Eleme. Wang Gang (王刚, alias) is approximately 30 years old and has a wife and a child. He had only been working for Eleme for a few months and reportedly did not have any prior accidents.

In Monday’s double accident, Wang suffered a mild skull fracture, seven broken ribs, and a fractured lower leg. He is in stable condition.

By Manya Koetse

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©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Local News

Video Showing Suihua Female Worker Hitting Deputy Director with a Mop Goes Viral on Weibo

The Suihua deputy director was attacked with a mop after female workers accused him of harassing them.

Manya Koetse

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A video showing a woman beating the director of her work department with a mop has gone viral on Chinese social media. The woman who posted the video accuses the office leader of harassing his female subordinates.

The incident took place on April 11th in the city of Suihua, Heilongjiang province. The man who was beaten in the video is Mr. Wang, the deputy director of the poverty alleviation department of the Beilin district of Suihua.

The 14-minute video shows a woman storming into Wang’s office while another woman is behind her, filming. The first woman initially goes to Wang’s desk and throws some stuff on the ground, before she asks the other woman to give her the mop. She then proceeds to hit Wang in the face and head with the mop multiple times. The other woman yells at Wang that she cannot put up with his harassing texts anymore.

At one point in the video, Wang claims he was “just joking,” but the woman claims he is guilty of harassing multiple women in the department. Local authorities investigated the case after the video went viral.

According to Chinese news reports, Mr. Wang has now been removed from his office and Party position for “lifestyle violations of discipline” (for more information on this, China Law Translate has translated the Chapter XI of the Chinese Communist Party Disciplinary Regulations here.)

The woman hitting Wang with the mop reportedly has not been punished for her actions due to “mental illness.”

On Weibo, many people praise the women for stepping up and rebelling against the deputy director, and fighting to protect themselves. Some people call it “courageous” and a “brave revenge.”

“Harassers deserve to be hit,” one commenter writes, with another person adding: “It is good that young people nowadays come forward against older and more powerful leaders.”

There are also people on Weibo who question the reported “mental illness” condition of the woman who hit Wang, with some suggesting she could have not been a state office worker if she suffered from serious mental issues. Others also denounce the fact that the woman was labeled this way, while allegedly having been harassed and finding no help after reporting it to the police. At the same time, a majority of commenters express relief that the woman will not face punishment for hitting Wang with the mop.

Since the outcome of the investigations has not been made public, some netizens demand to see the investigation’s conclusions to know if the official was indeed guilty of sexual harassment and why nothing was done about the female worker’s alleged reports to police about his behaviour.

Over the past year, the problem of sexual harassment in the workplace has been receiving more attention on Chinese social media. In March of this year, a Shanghai court awarded approximately $15,000 to a plaintiff in a sexual harassment suit against a colleague who had sent disturbing text messages to her over a period of six months (link). In December of 2020, a landmark court case of the female scriptwriter Zhou Xiaoxuan versus Chinese famous TV host Zhu Jun attracted major attention on social media.

By Manya Koetse, with contributions by Miranda Barnes

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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