Chinese citizens expressed support yesterday for a disabled man who set off an explosion at Beijing International Airport, injuring himself in an apparent protest against police brutality.
Messages of support were posted online after reports said 34-year old Ji Zhongxing (冀中星) was driven to the act by a years-long battle for justice after being severely beaten by police.
Wheelchair-bound Ji warned passengers in the airport before detonating the small device late on Saturday in an apparent attempt to draw attention to his case without harming others, the Beijing News reported.
A policeman who rushed to the scene was the only other person injured in the explosion, the state-run China Radio International said.
“He warned those passing by ... what a good member of the public. Who in this country is willing to stand up and say they are more righteous than him?” Zhao Xiao (趙曉), a professor at the Beijing Institute of Technology, wrote on Chinese microblogging site Sina Weibo.
“He was not as crazed as the police who beat him in the first place,” another user said.
Ji moved from the eastern province of Shandong to work as a motorcycle driver in the southern city of Dongguan, where he was severely beaten by police staff in 2005, causing him to become disabled, according to multiple reports which could not be independently verified.
He had “lost all hope with society,” following an unsuccessful battle for compensation, Hong Kong broadcaster Phoenix TV reported.
Ji was arrested at the scene of Saturday’s explosion and taken to hospital where he had his left hand amputated, the broadcaster said.
Reports said Ji had grown frustrated at China’s “petitioning” system, which allows citizens to file complaints directly with government departments.
Petitioners whose complaints have been ignored have for decades staged protests across China, with some using violent acts to draw attention to their case.
The bombing highlights flaws in the petition system, which is “basically not working,” Willy Wo-lap Lam (林和立), a China analyst at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told reporters.
Ji and members of his family traveled to Beijing in 2009 to petition the authorities about his case, the Beijing Evening News reported.
Local governments have responded to a rise in petitions in recent years by employing networks of interceptors to catch petitioners who journey to Beijing, sometimes detaining them in illegal “black jails.” Analysts say such moves have fueled frustration.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) has appointed a supreme court judge with some reformist credentials, but has made no major reforms to the legal system since taking office in March.
An unemployed man who had been a petitioner killed 47 people last month by setting off an explosion on a bus in the coastal city of Xiamen, state media reported.
Netizens favorably contrasted Ji’s decision to warn passengers with the behavior of the petitioner behind the Xiamen attack.
“It’s a big step forward ... because Ji chose to inflict the smallest amount of injury,” one Sina Weibo user wrote.