Chinese commentators have called for better treatment of petitioners after police beat the wife of a high-ranking law enforcement official, reportedly mistaking her for a complainant. According to Chinese media, the party chief of the local police bureau told her afterwards: "This incident is a total misunderstanding. Our police officers never realised that they beat the wife of a senior leader."
The comment sparked outrage, with one person reportedly responding: "Does it mean the police are not supposed to beat leaders' wives, but that the ordinary people can be battered?" Chen Yulian, from Hubei province in central China, was knocked to the ground and beaten for more than 15 minutes by plain-clothed officers, a report in the Southern Metropolis Daily said. The 58-year-old had been trying to enter a provincial office building in Wuhan to meet an official.
Photo from here.
The paper said six unidentified men rushed out of the gate and began pummelling her. They were later identified as public security officers who had allegedly been assigned to "subdue" petitioners. According to the newspaper, she was then taken to a police bureau and scolded when she requested medical treatment. Only after she called her husband – who is reportedly in charge of maintaining stability, meaning he would oversee the handling of petitioners – was she taken to hospital, where staff said she had concussion and other injuries.
The petition system is a last resort for thousands of ordinary citizens with grievances. In theory it allows them to seek redress from higher authorities in cases involving issues such as court judgments, land seizures, redundancy or corruption. Chinese media reported today that three officers were reprimanded, one of them being transferred to another job.