Deng Yujiao incident
The Deng Yujiao incident (simplified Chinese: 邓玉娇事件; traditional Chinese: 鄧玉嬌事件; pinyin: Dèng Yùjiāo Shìjiàn) occurred on 10 May 2009 at a hotel in Badong County, Hubei. Deng Yujiao, a 21-year-old pedicure worker, tried to rebuff the advances of Deng Guida (邓贵大; no relation), director of the local township business promotions office, who had come to the hotel seeking sexual services. She allegedly stabbed her assailant several times trying to fight him off, resulting in his death. Badong County police subsequently arrested Deng Yujiao, charged her with homicide, and refused to grant her bail.
|Date||10 May 2009|
|Venue||Xiongfeng Hotel (雄风宾馆)|
|Location||Yesanguan, Badong County, Hubei, China|
|Participants||Deng Yujiao, Deng Guida, Huang Dezhi|
This case came to national prominence through internet forums and chatrooms, where netizens were enraged by her treatment. The case resonated with the public anger over the corruption and immorality of officials, and garnered over four million forum posts across the country. Chinese authorities attempted to downplay the incident by limiting its presence on Chinese web portals, and a large number of discussion threads were censored. Following a groundswell of public protests and online petitions, prosecutors dropped murder charges, granted her bail, and charged her with a lesser offense of "intentional assault". She was found guilty but did not receive a sentence due to her mental state. The two surviving officials involved in the incident were sacked, also ostensibly in response to public pressure.
Deng Yujiao, a native of Mulongya village (木龙垭村), Yesanguan Town (野三关镇), Badong County, was a 21-year-old pedicure worker at the Dream Fantasy City (梦幻城) bath center at Xiongfeng Hotel (雄风宾馆), when the incident occurred.
Deng Guida was the director of the local township's business promotions office. He, his deputy, Huang Dezhi (黄德智), and one other official arrived at the hotel where Deng Yujiao worked on 10 May 2009 and allegedly requested "special services" (a euphemism commonly taken to mean sexual services in China) from Deng Yujiao. She did not submit to the requests. Deng Guida had allegedly pulled out a stack of banknotes worth ¥4,000 and slapped her in the face with it to show off his wealth. He then pushed Deng Yujiao onto a sofa and proceeded to lay on top of her. At this moment, in self-defense, Deng Yujiao used a small 3 inch knife and stabbed her assailant four times. One of the stabs landed in her assailant's neck, causing him to bleed to death at the scene. His deputy was also stabbed. Police, who apparently found pills in her purse, said Deng Yujiao may have been suffering from acute depression, and took her to a psychiatric hospital on 12 May for examination. During Deng's days in the hospital her arms and ankles were tied to the bed, which was referred to by the police as "a procedure of protection."
Two lawyers from Beijing, Xia Lin (夏霖) and Xia Nan (夏楠), took on her case pro bono. On 25 May 2009, they lodged an official complaint against one of the attackers, Huang Dezhi at the Badong police station. Details of the complaint:
- Huang Dezhi tried to remove her jeans and underwear by force (namely attempted rape) while she was doing laundry.
- Deng Guida then used a wad of ¥4,000 cash to hit her face while yelling, "Didn't you want money? I bet you have not seen any money before. How much money you want, just say it, believe me or not, I shall smack you to death with money." Deng Yujiao retorted, "Yes, I have never seen any money before, if you have the guts, today you smack me to death." Deng Guida then replied, "I am going to smack you to death with money. I'm going to get a truck load of money to squash you to death."
- After stabbing the two men (Deng Guida and Huang Dezhi), Deng Yujiao put down the knife and called local police and her mother.
Police chief's interviewEdit
On 22 May 2009, Yang Liyong (杨立勇) was interviewed by Southern Metropolis Daily, during which he presented the official police version of the incident.
- Deng is a service worker at the KTV.
- She was requested of a "bathing service between opposite sex." To one reporter's question, "Why was the Deng Guida's demand of special service being changed into bathing service?" Yang replied: (on special service) "may be a lot of people understand it as a sexual service, a sex trade, but on this case, the trade had not gone through, we have no choice, we can only call it a bathing service between opposite sex."
- Quoted: "The public security bureau thinks that she is suspected of committing intentional murder based upon two direct pieces of evidence. First, death was caused. Secondly, Deng Guida suffered two fatal stab wounds which we determined to be quite powerful. Two fatal stab wounds." Unquoted.
- Quoted: "During our investigation of this case, the whole matter is really a very ordinary case involving death. But the public and the media insist on turning into a tragedy."
After Deng turned herself in to the police, she was initially charged with murder. Deng claimed she acted in self-defense after the official attempted to rape her. Blogger Wu Gan, wrote about her case in his blog. A Berkeley professor remarked to the New York Times that instead of garnering hundreds of thousands of mentions on Internet blogs and other forums, Deng's case accumulated in excess of four million posts across websites. Deng's plight struck a note with millions of Chinese fed up with low-level corruption and "rampant social injustice and the lack of fundamental respect in society," in the words of a Beijing lawyer. Deng was hailed as a national hero for resisting official abuse of power. Her supporters, who demanded a fair trial, took their protest to Beijing. Their visual stunt was a woman wearing a mask and wrapped in white cloth; a sign saying "Anyone could be Deng Yujiao" was laid on the ground around her. The photos immediately appeared on the Internet.
Chinese bloggers showed their solidarity with Deng Yujiao by distributing free T-shirts on the net with popular slogans like:
- 江山如此多娇！ (pinyin: Jiāngshān rúcǐ duō jiāo; lit. 'The rivers and mountains are so charming and gorgeous') — from a poem by Mao Zedong, the last Chinese character is "娇/嬌 (jiāo), appears in Deng Yujiao's name.
- 巴东玉娇龙，华夏女英雄！ (Bādōng Yù Jiāolóng, huáxià nǚ yīngxióng; 'Badong Yu Jiaolong, Huaxia heroine') — Yu Jiaolong is a character from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and Yu Jiao is also Deng Yujiao's name.
- 中国烈女，公民楷模！ (Zhōngguó liènǚ, gōngmín kǎimó; 'Chinese heroine, citizen role model')
- 抗暴无罪！ (Kàngbào wú zuì; 'Resisting rape is not a crime')
As a result of the national outcry, police released her on bail and put her under house arrest; prosecutors charged her with a lesser offense of "intentional assault" instead of murder. The two surviving officials were sacked on 31 May. Xinhua reported that Badong County Communist Party Discipline Inspection Committee removed Huang Dezhi from the post of vice director of the office of business delegations of Yesanguan Township, and stripped of his CPC membership, as he had "pushed and shoved and verbally insulted a waitress who refused to accompany them to take a bath" in a bathhouse on 10 May in Badong, the authorities said. Huang has been "detained in connection with public order offences." Deng Zhongjia, 45, another vice director of the same office who was present at the time of the incident, was also fired, ostensibly because the incident had caused a "bad social effect" although he had not broken any laws or regulations.
Censorship and alleged official meddlingEdit
The Badong county police said that an official had been killed whilst in a quarrel with Deng Yujiao. Their statement issued on 13 May said that Deng Guida twice pushed the girl onto a sofa and was killed by a pedicure knife. Police said that the murder weapon was a fruit knife five days later.
Meng Jianzhu, minister of the Ministry of Public Security of the People's Republic of China, allegedly gave instruction to his deputy:
When dealing with these matters, I hope our police colleagues will have a faster response next time. Those internet bloggers don't talk sense, so we will not be talking sense back to them. The suspect and the evidence are both in our hands. There is no need to watch public opinion so closely and treat the case according to the wishes of netizens. We should arrest those that need to be arrested, and execute those that need to be executed. The Shanghai authorities executed Yang Jia; has there been any problems? They had the support of the Central Government. If they didn't execute Yang Jia, who would dare to work as police in the future?
Deng Yujiao's mother received a call, purportedly from the police, after which she washed most of her daughter's clothes thereby removing potential physical evidence. The police also announced on 23 May that she had hired two Hubei lawyers to replace the initial lawyers who, it was alleged, had breached Deng Yujiao's privacy.
On approximately 22 May, Beijing censors ordered websites to stop reporting the case. The State Council Information Office issued directives to all Chinese websites to remove all the recommended news stories and commentaries on Deng Yujiao. No posts about Deng Yujiao must be placed at the top of the page. Later on, the Beijing Information Office telephoned portals instructing them to use only official government statements and not report or comment on Deng Yujiao. The State Information Office ordered media and web portals to 'dilute the Deng Yujiao case with other news', delete any 'open letters and pleadings', and bar any web based opinion poll or petition.
Television and the Internet were cut off in Yesanguan, officially as a precaution against lightning strikes. The Internet attention drew Chinese journalists to Badong County. But after censorship was imposed, local officials began screening outsiders, and some journalists seeking to report there were beaten. The blog of Wu Gan, which had publicised Deng's case, was shut down by censors.
According to the media, Deng Yujiao's murder charge was changed to intentional assault, most likely following massive public pressure from internet users who hailed her as a heroine. At her trial on 16 June, a judge said the court had found her guilty because Deng had used excessive force even though she was acting in self-defense. The lenient sentence was on account of diminished responsibility, and because she had surrendered to police and the officials involved had made a major mistake. One Beijing human rights lawyer said the court would not have freed Deng if there was not so much pressure from so much national attention. The Standard reported that mainland websites were euphoric after the trial.
- "A stab at reform". The Economist. 6 June 2009.
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- "Deng Yujiao Tells Her Story; Protesters Express Support ESWN translates a Southern Metropolis Daily article in which Deng Yujiao tells what took place on the night she stabbed a local official who attempted to rape her". ESWN. 25 May 2009. Retrieved 30 May 2009.
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- Man's death linked to unwanted sex advances
- Killing makes Chinese hostess a symbol of discontent
- Dueling statements in the Deng Yujiao murder case
- 邓玉娇：“烈女”案搅动司法理性 [Deng Yujiao: The Case of the "Strong Girl" disrupted the rationality of law]. Southern Metropolis Daily. 30 December 2009. Archived from the original on 12 January 2010. (translated article)
- (in Chinese)