Policemen in Hubei have actually apologized for beating “a petitioner”… because it wasn’t a petitioner at all. Rather, poor Mrs. Chen Yulian, 58, was the wife of a Hubei provincial politics and law committee official who was walking to the gate of the provincial party committee’s office buildings on June 23.
Southern Metropolis Daily investigated when it appeared as a hot story on the internet. Netizens have dubbed it “Wrong Beating-gate 打错门”and commented that it “couldn’t be true” and, if it was, then “life is more imaginative than fiction.”
But it was true. Chen Yulian, who is still in the hospital from her injuries a month ago, confirmed that police had apologized to her afterwards, saying they hadn’t known she was the wife of such an important official. “An official’s wife you can’t hit,” she spit out, “but a commoner you can?”
The original article appeared in forum posts all over the net. Chen Yulian had been going up to the offices to meet her husband, and was at the gate making a call on her cellphone when, lal of the sudden, six plainclothed men knocked her to the ground and began hitting and kicking her. Seeing stars, Mrs. Chen yelled that she was the family of the provincial cadre and could they please stop hitting her.
She later said that the six men continued to kick her down as she struggled to get up. One time, they kicked her upper body, slamming her head against the booth railing pole. Altogether, the beating lasted roughly 16 minutes.
Neighbors who saw the beating happened rushed up to defend her, telling the men that “she is from one of the provincial leader’s families, how can you play like this?” The six men told them to butt out. As more and more people came up with the same story, the men finally told them they could get the family to come prove it.
It was only after a half an hour that a car came to take the half-delirious Mrs. Chen to a security room, where she sat guarded by two policemen. And it was only after she woke up enough to call her husband, that her identity was confirmed and she was sent to a hospital.
Mrs. Chen was diagnozed with a concussion, soft tissue injury, a broken left foot, and nerve trauma.
That day, the director of the PSB came to apologize, saying “When we heard about this incident we attached great importance to it, look, I rushed over as soon as I had a moment… It’s a misunderstanding, merely a misunderstanding, we didn’t know we had hit a big official’s wife.”
The comment has prompted some netizens to proposed that people start walking around with signs stating “I have status, don’t hit me.”
The entire 16-minute beating was filmed. Chen’s family confirmed with Southern Metropolis Daily that they had seen the video, and it was clearly inhuman and against any legal process. “It was like a bunch of mad dogs,” Chen’s sister said. “… they weren’t dressed like the staff, but also not like the police, they seemed like they were from the triads!”
While the PSB confirmed that everyone had seen the video now, they refused to release it, saying it was “currently in the relevant archives.”
“I was thinking,” Chen’s sister said, “if they had not chosen to beat up my sister, if it was a farmer, or a common person, would the leadership think this issue was so important? I bet they wouldn’t even have admitted the identity of those plainclothes policemen.”
The local PSB has said that it had never given specific orders to its policemen to beat petitioners, and that the six police involved are now either “laid off, suspended… and awaiting punishment,” though they did not have any idea what “punishment.”
The Chen family said, “After the incident, the [six] came to us asking for mercy, to deal with them leniently, even offer not to punish them. They said if they were punished, it’d affect the whole unit’s honor, and since they are an advanced unit, their advanced title will be affected. They even went as far to tell us that the beaters’ families are all in difficult situations, their livelihoods are at stake, so please view the request from that point.”