Sympathy pours in for China blast protester

AFP-JIJI

Chinese citizens expressed support Sunday for a disabled man who set off a bomb at Beijing’s international airport, injuring himself in an apparent protest over police brutality.

Messages of support were posted online following reports that said 34-year-old Ji Zhongxing was driven to the act by a years-long battle for justice after he was beaten so severely by police that he was left disabled.

Ji, who now has to use a wheelchair, warned passengers in the airport before detonating the small homemade device late Saturday in an apparent attempt to draw attention to his case without harming anyone else, the Beijing News reported.

A policeman who rushed to the scene was the only other person injured in the explosion, 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, a professor at the Beijing Institute of Technology, wrote on the Twitter-like Sina Weibo site.

Lawyer Yuan Yulai wrote: “By warning others to move away, he is a good person. . . . I hope authorities will be understanding, or they will set off a vicious cycle.”

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 in 2005, rendering him disabled, according to multiple reports that could not be verified.

He had “lost all hope with society” after an unsuccessful battle for compensation, Hong Kong broadcaster Phoenix TV reported. Ji was arrested at the scene and taken to a hospital, where he had his left hand amputated, the broadcaster said.

Reports said Ji had grown frustrated with China’s “petitioning” system, which allows citizens to file complaints directly with government departments. Petitioners whose complaints are ignored have for decades staged protests across the country, with some turning to violent acts to draw attention to their case.

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.