Five separate attacks on children have occurred at Chinese schools across the country over the last month, peaking between April 28 to 30 with killings in three cities: Leizhou in Guangdong Province, Taixing in Jiangsu Province, and Weifang in Shandong Province.
The assaults targeted middle, elementary, and kindergarten school children. As public anger mounts, Chinese scholars are looking for the reasons behind the violent tragedies.
Thousands Protest Cover-Up
Speculation about authorities trying to cover up the truth ran wild on the Internet after the kindergarten killings in Taixing on April 29. Official reports are stating that 31 people were injured, five of them severely.
Authorities denied rumors of multiple deaths and also prohibited the parents of the injured children from entering either the kindergarten or the hospital. On the afternoon of April 30, parents and family members of these children protested on the streets. They were soon joined by local residents totaling tens of thousands by nightfall. They demanded that the government release the truth about the assault.
It has been reported that after the protest, some parents were given permission to visit their children that night.
Ms. Zhou, the parent of one of the child victims, said in an interview with The Epoch Times that their situation improved after the protest on April 30. “We all went in to see our children last night and this morning, and their situations have improved.”
One parent said her child’s windpipe was severed, but surgery was performed yesterday, and the child is now awake. “We were allowed to visit this morning, and there were two other children with the same condition. A few severely injured children are in the intensive-care unit, but the others are in regular hospital rooms.”
Although authorities continue to claim that there were no deaths, a doctor was quoted by The Beijing News saying that three children have been declared dead. Personal blog entries on the Internet claim there were four to eight deaths.
The Taixing authorities said the knifeman is an unemployed local resident whose motive remains unknown. However, xinmin.cn carried reports of local residents who said the man was angry because of the small amount of compensation he received after his home was demolished.
Low Media Profile
Because Expo 2010 is opening, media have been instructed to keep a low profile on reporting this incident. Local residents said that even major newspapers like Yangtse Evening Post and Modern Express had not reported this news.
A revealing notice that was sent to China’s sina.com was posted on the Internet: “We were instructed to use sources from Xinhua News Agency for the kindergarten killings in Taixing. Since Expo 2010 is approaching, do not put this on the front page.” Internet discussion forums on the kindergarten assault were shut down immediately.
Meanwhile, another assault was unfolding April 30 in the city of Weifang in Shandong Province. Wang Yonglai, a 45-year-old resident, was angry over the demolition of the chicken farm he had just built. He entered Shangzhuang Elementary School with a hammer and gasoline and attacked the students, injuring five. Wang then poured gasoline on himself and attempted to drag two students into the fire with him, only to have the students pulled away by the teachers at the last second. Wang burnt himself to death on the spot.
Local officials did not explain the reason for the assaults, but Wang’s neighbors have told Hong Kong media that Wang’s chicken farm, which had cost him his life savings, was demolished a few days ago.
China’s most popular blogger, writer, and new pop icon Han Han also expressed his anger: “I was just surprised that the Taizhou government tried to divert people’s attention by blocking the news, blocking the hospital, controlling the media, [and] forbidding parents from visiting their children. … Except for singing the praises of the World Expo, this is simply a routine, a habit the government has had for handling similar incidents.”
He continued, “You have been assaulted, yet your story did not even make it to the newspaper because, a few hundred kilometers away, they are holding a grand ceremony. Over there, just the fireworks have cost hundreds of millions of yuan.”
However, Han Han’s post of May 2 was quickly blocked by the Chinese authorities. Readers can only see a link pointing to a blank article followed by thousands of Chinese bloggers’ comments, many of which have also been blocked. But the May 2 post is still being widely circulated by subscribers to his blog.
Sun Wenguang, a retired professor from Shandong, told The Epoch Times that violence against little children should be condemned. These kinds of repeated school killings might have something to do with disadvantaged groups in society having unresolved grievances, he said. “If they are plotting revenge on the society, we must find the reasons. Using death penalties to intimidate people is useless and only covers over the social conflicts without resolving them.”