Update: The story’s out in the US now; here’s a link.
A reader sends me this story from the unlinkable SCMP (and sorry about formatting issues; no time to fix):
Mourners for deposed leader Zhao rounded up, beaten: witnesses
Updated at 2.50pm:
China has detained dozens of people, some of whom have been severely
beaten, for trying to mark the death of former leader Zhao Ziyang, witnesses said on Thursday.
The allegations came as the government intensified security to prevent mourners attending Saturday’s funeral in Beijing for Mr Zhao, the former Communist Party secretary general purged for opposing the 1989 military crackdown on the Tiananmen democracy movement. At least three people, including a woman in her 70s, were punched and manhandled by police officers outside the government offices which receive complaints in the Chinese capital, witnesses said.
They were among some 60 people who pinned white paper flowers to their clothes, a traditional Chinese symbol of mourning, said a bystander who took pictures of the beatings and posted them on overseas websites.
“A man from Henan province was beaten badly. His left eyeball looked like it was beaten out of its socket and he had a one inch cut to his right eye,” said the man who requested anonymity.
“An elderly woman from Shandong province was beaten to a point where she couldn’t move and a man from Hunan province was also beaten,” he said.
Police shouted at the petitioners that Mr Zhao, who spent nearly 16 years under house arrest until his death last week, was a “political criminal,” the witness said.
“They said: ‘Why are you commemorating him? You’re clearly opposing the government. But the petitioners said ‘We think differently. We think he’s a good person.'”
Also last week, an estimated 80 to 90 petitioners were rounded up near Mr Zhao’s traditional courtyard home in Beijing for trying to get inside to pay respects and express condolences to his family, petitioners said.
“In our petitioners’ hostel, all 10 people who went were detained and held from from 9am to 11pm,” said Bai Shuhua, one of the 10.
“In the police station, they said ‘You don’t seek leaders who are
alive, but insist on seeking dead leaders. How can the dead help you?” Bai said.
One of the petitioners, Liu Hongbo, was punched twice as he yelled, “Zhao didn’t do anything wrong,” Bai said.
Mr Zhao, prime minister and head of the Communist Party for much of the 1980s, died on January 17 at the age of 85.
The authorities fear his death and funeral on Saturday will be a rallying point for dissidents, petitioners and people dissatisfied with the government.
For all the reform, there’s still a price one must pay (like having your eye punched out) for expressing your political beliefs. No matter how much some of you don’t like Zhao, do you see this as a good thing or a bad thing?
I know, there are good people and bad people in the CCP, and it may not be as black and white as it seems. But on second thought, the story above really does appear to be black and white. Does anyone find any gray?
Update, 6:10 p.m. MST.