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‘What happened to the Tangshan women?’: Chinese demand answers on brutal restaurant attack

The ladies have been brutally assaulted by 9 males within the northern metropolis of Tangshan after certainly one of them objected to being sexually harassed.

The assault — captured on surveillance digicam — has despatched shock waves throughout China, sparking outrage from ladies who’ve lengthy confronted harassment and gender-based violence.

However the ensuing silence from the victims and their households has unsettled many who concern the worst for the ladies, underscoring the shortage of public belief in a governing system that routinely covers up unwelcome information — a propensity that has solely been additional enabled by a raft of stringent restrictions below the nation’s zero-Covid coverage.

Many expressed fears for the ladies after watching the harrowing surveillance footage. The lads dragged one girl open air by her hair, hit her with bottles and chairs and repeatedly kicked her within the head. A girl who tried to assist her was pushed away, touchdown closely on the again of her head on the steps.

Hours after the assault, a photograph confirmed one of many victims mendacity on a hospital gurney coated in blood, together with her head bandaged up. The subsequent day, Tangshan police mentioned two ladies have been hospitalized with “non-life-threatening accidents” and have been in “steady situation” — however there was no replace on their scenario since.

All through final week, rumors that among the victims have been in far worse situation than authorities claimed unfold persistently on-line, regardless of repeated denials from the police, hospital officers and the native department of the All-China Ladies’s Federation, a state-backed ladies’s group.

Some alleged the surveillance video captured solely a part of the assault, and the violence continued off digicam in a close-by alleyway — claims that CNN can not independently confirm. One other video circulating on-line exhibits residents laying down bouquets of flowers within the alleyway.

Hypothesis went into overdrive on Thursday, when extra movies — the authenticity of which can’t be confirmed — emerged on-line.

On Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform, the hashtag “Tangshan beaten girls follow-up” had been seen more than 200 million times by Friday, producing greater than 220,000 feedback — with many demanding to know what occurred to the ladies.

In an announcement Friday, Weibo mentioned it had shut down 320 accounts for “spreading rumors” in regards to the Tangshan assault. A extensively circulated article on messaging app WeChat alluding to the rumors was additionally censored.

The persistent hypothesis was fueled by a black gap of knowledge surrounding the victims. None of them — or their family and friends — have spoken out because the assault, and no official particulars have been launched concerning their accidents. State media studies have largely targeted on the swift police motion in arresting the suspects, and the two-week “thunderstorm” marketing campaign introduced by Tangshan authorities to crack down on organized crime.

A number of media retailers identified for his or her hard-hitting reporting, similar to China Information Weekly, quoted hospital officers denying any of the ladies had died, however that didn’t persuade the general public.

“You authorities are denying rumors on a regular basis. The place is your proof?” a Weibo person requested.

“Why are rumors flying all over the place? As a result of we won’t discover a single sentence of reality anyplace,” mentioned one other.

The native police station advised CNN the case was nonetheless below investigation and refused to share any additional data. The hospital the place the ladies have been handled didn’t reply to CNN’s request for remark. The native department of the All-China Ladies’s Federation hung up the telephone.

Even state-media journalists have been obstructed from reporting on the aftermath by native authorities, who tightened Tangshan’s Covid journey restrictions following the assault.

Anybody arriving within the metropolis by prepare is required to offer an in depth handle of the place they’re staying and signal a notice promising to not exit; vacationers who plan to remain in accommodations are required to register 48 hours prematurely; those that are allowed to go away the prepare station are despatched to their lodging on buses organized by the federal government, the state-run Jinan Instances reported.

A journalist with the government-run Guizhou Radio Tv Station mentioned in a video on Weibo that when he arrived on the Tangshan prepare station on June 11, a day after the assault, he was not allowed to go away the station as a result of he “had not reported to the native residential neighborhood beforehand.” This was regardless of having examined damaging for the coronavirus on the identical day, being in possession of a “inexperienced well being code” on his Covid app, and having traveled from a metropolis with no just lately reported virus instances.

“Is that this actually a standard epidemic-prevention measure, or (are the authorities) attempting to make use of Covid as an excuse to cease journalists from coming into Tangshan?” he requested within the since-deleted video.
This might not be the primary time that native authorities in China have used Covid restrictions for political management. Within the metropolis of Zhengzhou, Henan province, authorities have been accused of tampering with the digital health code system to thwart a planned protest.

“Tangshan and Henan are actually essentially the most terrifying comparability: for eight days, you do not know something in regards to the Tangshan ladies, however (Henan authorities) know all of your information in a second — the place you’re, which prepare ticket you booked, and what you wish to do,” Li Chengpeng, a outstanding author and social critic, wrote on social media Saturday.

“What you recognize is what (authorities) mean you can know, what you do not know won’t ever be identified.”

Like many different posts criticizing the shortage of transparency within the authorities’s dealing with of the incident, Li’s article has since been censored.

CNN’s Shawn Deng contributed to reporting.

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