A shocking case of matricide has placed China’s infamous internet addiction boot camps back into the national spotlight.
Last Friday, a 16-year-old girl named Chen Xinran turned herself in at a police station in Heilongjiang for the murder of her mother Li Xiaomei. For one week, Chen had held her mom captive, tied to a chair, as she slowly starved to death. Chen sent pictures and videos of her mom to her aunt, demanding money for her release. When the money did finally arrive, Li was already dying. Chen called an ambulance and fled, but doctors couldn’t save Li’s life, The Paper reports.
Prior to this, Chen also allegedly stabbed her father with a knife during an argument. He had to be taken to the hospital.
Police have not yet announced Chen’s motive for killing her mom and stabbing her dad, but many are speculating that it had to do with the teenager’s resentment for being committed against her will to an internet addiction treatment center with a reputation for brutality.
According to Chen’s online journal entries, earlier this year she was grabbed by two men, thrown into the back of a car and forcibly taken to the Shandong Science and Technology Defense Academy in Jinan. The center’s website claims that since being founded in 1996, it has helped to cure 7,000 teens of their addition to the internet. Chen had recently dropped out of high school, so her parents obviously hoped that the facility could work its magic on her.
Instead, during her time at the center, Chen claims that she was regularly beaten and abused by staff members for no reason. After four months of hell, Chen escaped back home.
So far, Chinese media outlets have failed to gain access to the academy or speak with officials about what goes on inside the camp. However, following initial reports of Chen’s crime, former classmates at the institution have echoed the teenager’s claims of kidnapping, abuse and mistreatment. Some even claimed that they underwent electro-shock therapy at the center. Others that they were made to eat while sitting in front of the toilet.
This kind of abuse would not come as a surprise. China’s many internet addiction treatment centers often style themselves as boot camps, where they get web-addicted kids to abandon their love for their internet via rigorous exercise and military-style drilling — or if that fails, by simply beating it out of them. Back in 2009, one 15-year-old boy died at an internet addiction rehabilitation clinic in Guangxi, after allegedly being beaten by his counselors.
Still, this kind of bad press doesn’t seem to have stopped parents from sending their precious children away to these brutal rehab centers. But maybe this story will?
[Images via The Paper]