Confessed Police Killer Lionized by Thousands in China: Crime Seen as Blow Against Oppression

Maureen Fan – The Washington Post

Copyright The Washington Post
November 14, 2008
BEIJING — Yang Jia slipped into the Zhabei Police Station in north Shanghai through the service entrance. A knife in his right hand and a mask over his face, he fatally stabbed four police officers on the first floor and one each on the ninth and the 11th before finally being subdued.
Yang, 28, has confessed to the crime and is destined for execution. But in a bizarre twist that reveals the fissures that run beneath China’s elaborately constructed social order, he is also an unlikely hero. Thousands of Chinese have lionized him for standing up to the security forces that are increasingly seen as a blunt instrument of the Communist Party’s chief aim: to ensure its authority by maintaining stability and stifling dissent.
At one of Yang’s hearings last month, hundreds of protesters descended on the Shanghai Higher People’s Court, carrying signs that read “Long Live the Killer” and shouting “Down with the Communist Party” and “Down with fascists.” Many of the protesters were educated and middle-aged.
More than 4,000 people have signed an open letter posted online urging that Yang’s life be spared. The letter has been erased from many Web sites by government censors, and coverage of the case in the state-run media has been strictly controlled.
As heinous as the July 1 crime reportedly was, and despite Yang’s confession, many Chinese still doubt the government’s findings. Public support for Yang has been bolstered by reports that he had been mistreated by police on at least two occasions and may have been seeking revenge…
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