On May 26 a local official from Lichuan, Hubei named Ran Jianxin （冉建新） was taken into custody under suspicion of accepting bribes. A 49-year-old man in healthy condition, less than ten days after his arrest he was dead. From ESWN:
On June 4, during the interrogation of the crime suspect Ran Jianxin, the Badong People’s Procuratorate investigators found that the suspect was feeling ill. Ran was sent to the Badong People’s Hospital for treatment. At 16:30 that day, the suspect Ran Jianxin expired in spite of attempts to revive him. The cause of death is under investigation. In the mean time, the photos of Ran Jianxin are all over the Internet for everybody to see, and they ask: Do you need an investigation to tell that the man was murdered?
The relatives, friends, colleagues and other Lichuan residents went to the government office to demand severe punishment of the murderers of Ran Jianxin. There is now a mass concentration of regular police and armed police at Lichuan.
With the release of graphic photos of Ran’s bruised and bloodied corpse (you can see them at the ESWN link above), little doubt was left as to the cause of death. Thousands then began to amass outside the city’s government buildings, reportedly throwing eggs, water bottles, and other garbage. ESWN reports 20,000 people gathered on June 9, but we’ve been reading figures more like 2,000.
Either way, the aggregation of the protest set off alarms bells somewhere, and hundreds of military vehicles began pouring into the city.
The bribery charges, which were hanging over Ran for six months before his arrest, were likely an attempt to silence an anti-corruption fighter. Ran is now being said to have died of “The Three Violations” – Illegal land use, illegal construction, and illegal development. He’s already being called a hero and a martyr.
We’ll keep you updated as events unfold.
Photos via multiple Weibo accounts, most notably here, here, and here.