Father of Deceased Hunan Elementary School Pupil Detained for ‘Disrupting Public Order’

June 29, 2016 Updated: July 1, 2016

The father of a 12-year-old child who leapt from a school building in China after a dispute with his teacher was found guilty of disrupting public order recently, after he protested for justice for his deceased son.   

Wu Zhen, a sixth-grader at Xinhua Experimental Elementary in Hunan, central China, was anticipating being a host of his class graduation ceremony. The evening before the event he stayed back, with three other students, and rearranged the desks in the classroom. When he got home, he reminded his parents to pick out his best outfit for the occasion.

The teacher, surnamed Wang, was displeased with the circular desk layout and demanded that the desks be put back in columns. All in the class obeyed, though Wu sat stubbornly in his chair, sobbing.

Surveillance video then shows Wu slapping his school bag with his palm and storming out of the classroom as the teacher begins the lecture. He then jumped from the fourth floor of the school building.

The teacher did not use corporal punishment or scold the child, police say.

Grieving over loss of his only son, Wu’s father began a campaign seeking what he thought would be justice — an “explanation,” in the words of Wu’s sister. The family did not elaborate on their precise demands.

At noon on June 25, one day after Wu’s death, with loud speakers and firecrackers, Wu’s father and relatives protested for hours, beginning at the school and making their way to the north entrance of the county government building.

The police reacted quickly, but not in the direction Wu’s family wished. Public security authorities declared Wu’s protest disruptive to public order and detained him for 5 days, according to The Paper, a state-funded new media outlet.

Netizens remarked that kids nowadays have a “sensitive heart of glass,” according to China Youth. “If we were all like this, I suppose half of my class would have died in childhood,” one netizen said. “I was truly sturdy in those days,” another said.

Wu Ling, the boy’s sister, said she nevertheless felt extremely disenchanted with how the school handled the case. “We just want an account from the school and officials,” Wu Ling said. “Yet till today there is still no official showing up to solve this issue.”