Suspected Rape and Murder of Chongqing Girl Cause Tens of Thousands To Protest
A senior attending Pine Bridge High School in Chongqing City is believed to have been raped and murdered by a school teacher while she was studying at the school over the holiday break. The school deliberately concealed details of the case and hired three men to assault the girl's family, arousing public indignation. On April 7, 2008, around 20,000 people gathered at the Lianglu Town industrial park, and the Sanzhi Road and airport area in the city's Yubei District. They held banners that read, “Severely punish the murderer” and “The high school girl died unjustly.” The protest obstructed traffic for two hours.
According to local media reports, Pine Bridge High School senior Qin Li had decided to stay at school to study for the upcoming college entrance exam during the Chingming holiday break. As Zhonglan Shen, Qin Li's mother, recalled, Qin called on the evening of April 3, the day before she was killed and told her of her plans to study at the school.
Around 7 p.m. on April 4, Zhonglan was working on a farm when she received a call from her daughter's school saying that Qin Li had suddenly become ill. Zhonglan rushed to the school as soon as she could. Qin's father and brother, who were working in the Zhucheng district, were also notified and promptly made their way to Pine Bridge High School.
When Qin's family got to the school late that night the school staff leader and an officer from the Longxi police station informed them that Qin had committed suicide by hanging herself in her dorm room around 4p.m. that day.
Meanwhile, a completely different story of Qin's death spread rapidly over the Internet. An eyewitness described what he saw of the incident on a popular Chinese BBS, Tianya Club.
The source said the girl was raped by a school teacher (other sources claimed it was the son of the school principal), and was strangled with a belt after she said she would appeal.
The murderer then created the illusion that Qin had committed suicide by hanging her in her dorm room. The school notified the deceased family two days after the incident occurred and deliberately concealed the truth. Qin's parents requested a forensic analysis, which revealed signs of a struggle and rape before Qin's death.
When the forensic evidence was revealed, the school teacher and principal offered the family 50,000 yuan to drop the case, but the family refused. Instead, Qin's family requested that authorities severely punish the murderer. Local government, however, sided with the teacher and covered up for the school, refusing to investigate the case.
Sources on Tianya BBS said the school requested a cremation of the girl's body, which Qin's parents refused. The school then hired three men to beat up the parents in the street. The assailants continued to beat Qin's father even after the mother had been beaten unconscious and sent to the hospital. The father told onlookers the story of his daughter's murder while he was being beaten. Bystanders quickly grew angry about the news.
Sources said that the local police arrived on the scene as the angered onlookers aimed to retaliate against the assailants. Instead of helping the father, the police formed two lines to help the gangsters escape the scene. Just then, news surfaced that the Qin's mother died in the hospital, further angering the local onlookers. They started a protest to demand severe punishment for the perpetrators of Qin's death.
Chongqing Municipal Public Security Bureau brought nearly 1,000 riot police from other districts to beat and arrest protesters. The crowd was then forced to withdraw.
Attempting to refute the so-called rumors of the details behind Qin's death, the local Yubei television station reported that Qin had committed suicide and failed to provide any motive or reason for it. It also reported that the mob that protested on behalf of the family to demand justice had ulterior motives and deliberately created disorder.
Although the mysterious death of Qin Li and the resulting demonstrations of tens of thousands people did not seem to interest Chongqing authorities, news of the incident spread rapidly on several Chinese websites. Internet users denounced and condemned the authorities and appealed to severely punish the assailants. The users generally lamented about the darkness of their society, and some even appealed for the overthrow of the Chinese Communist Party.