By Richard Yu
The Yunnan government made a surprisingly open move this week by appointing a famous blogger to head an internal investigation over the suspicious death of a 24-year-old inmate. But after all the investigation produced was a “meaningless” report, many are wondering if the whole deal wasn’t much more than a PR stunt.
Li Qiao Ming, who was in jail for illegal logging, had died of head trauma. Depending on who you asked, Li was either the victim of a prison yard beat down or (according to the police) just an unlucky fellow who ran headlong into a concrete wall during a game of “elude the cat.”
Netizen skepticism over the police report prompted a second investigation by the Yunnan government, this time headed by citizens – including bloggers like Zhen Li and locals chosen through an online lottery.
It seemed like a great leap towards government transparency… until the investigative committee’s report came out…
From China Daily:
The 7,200-word report detailed the committee’s one-day visit to Jinning prison on a timeline, and recounted conversations between the members and the government officials on a word-for-word basis. However, it made no attempt to determine the cause of Li’s death.
“This report is definitely not the one that ‘deciphers’ or ‘exposes the truth of’ the incident of ‘hide-and-seek’, we can only guarantee that our conscience and responsibility is served on this day, the rest is for members of online community to discuss,” the report concludes.
The committee had no access to police tapes or first-hand witnesses, rendering the whole effort more or less “meaningless.”
But the gov’t must have known a candidly useless report would never satisfy the online masses, who responded to the disappointing report by hacking into the official government website.
So was the new investigation was merely a cheap publicity stunt or a genuine baby step towards government accountability? It’s unfortunately hard to tell.