A 16-year-old from China’s northern Liaoning Province is being prosecuted for willful assault after being caught in a tussle with a gang acting on behalf of local Communist Party officials; he stabbed one of the aggressors, who later died.
“My boy is still young. He deserves another chance,” the mother of the 16-year-old Zhao Mingyang, told The Epoch Times.
Zhao is a resident of Xiaowa Village, Fushun City, Liaoning Province. He stabbed an “interceptor” to death while on his way to petition in October 2009; his case has recently entered appeal the process. Interceptors are hired by local government officials to prevent residents from appealing to higher levels of government (calling “petitioning”) and violence is a staple in the process.
Over 900 of the 1500 residents of Xiaowa Village have signed a petition to the court for granting leniency to Zhao, who has been deemed a civil hero on Chinese websites.
The farmers of Xiaowa Village make their living by growing rice on 500 acres of land. In a bid to build a new town there, called Shenfu, the Fushun municipal government forced the farmers to relocate in 2009 with compensation of around 700 yuan (US$100) per acre.
Residents of the village reported that Zang Yuquan, the Chinese Communist Party village branch leader, and Liu Fengtong, the village committee director, embezzled a good portion of the total. Zang's new Mercedes Benz now stands out in the village, since the average annual income per capita is far below that buying power.
Zhao's father and another farmer, Tong Zhengang, decided to appeal and spread the news to the rest of the village over loudspeaker on October 8, 2009. Retaliation was swift.
“Liu hired more than 20 gangsters and smashed the Zhao and Tong family,” said Wang, a villager interviewed by The Epoch Times who was privy to the events. “Half of them went to Zhao's house first. Zhao's mother and Zhao were at home. They threatened Zhao's mother with a knife not to petition or they'd kill Zhao's family. The other half jumped over the wall and forced into Tong's house. They beat up Tong and his wife and smashed his house.”
The villagers were outraged by the incident. The next day, more than 200 of them set out to Lishi Economic Development Zone Management Committee to appeal. However, they were intercepted by more than 10 men armed with knives and other weapons. Wang said: “I got knocked out on the head right after I got off the truck. I didn't see who hit me. I got black eyes and bleeding. We then started fighting. Zhao stabbed a gangster named Xiaolong Li three times, and Li died afterwards. I got four stitches at hospital later.”
According to the police, Li was stabbed in the left arm, chest and abdomen. The fatal stab on the chest went through lung and heart. He was dead when the ambulance arrived.
“My boy is a good boy. He is very nice to people. His grandparents got sick after they heard the news,” Zhao's mother said.
Zhao graduated from a local junior high school the year before. Nicknamed “sheep,” villagers said he was an “obedient kid.”
Mr. Wang said: “The villagers all took pity on the poor boy. He is still a minor. More than a thousand villagers plead leniency for him. We are cornered and dare not to speak. We have to take whatever amount they gave us, or our house will be smashed.”
“It is unfair to us. It was illegal for the village leaders to hire gangsters to force their way into houses and threaten people with knives. Our rights are violated. The poor boy went appealing for the whole village. We are very sympathetic to him,” Wang added.
The village leaders were detained on charges of affray and willful assault at first, but the charges were changed to illegal intrusion later. Zhao's father and Zhao, however, were still charged with willful assault.
Beijing-based lawyer Xiaoyuan Liu, well known as a commentator on similar matters, wrote in his blog: “In real life, the interceptors, with the authorities support, assault or kidnap petitioners, put them under house arrest, send them to mental hospitals by force or turn them over to police for detainment. There were even cases where female petitioners got raped by the interceptors. However, the petitioners sometimes took revenge on the interceptors or society. The 16-year-old Zhao's case is a typical one.”