Thursday, February 26, 2009

Chinese set themselves on fire

BBC News
Three people have set themselves on fire in the Chinese capital, Beijing, state media says.

The group were in a car at a busy intersection in a shopping area near Tiananmen Square when they set themselves alight.

Police said the men had come to the capital with "personal grievances".

There have been a number of self-immolation incidents in Beijing in recent years. Most involve petitioners angry with the government.

The article doesn't say why these people are protesting but chances are high that it involves corruption or abuse at the local government level. They must be desperate or crazy to consider self-immolation. China has a lot of people so there are probably a lot that need mental health services. However, since the rule of law is capricious and less than 1% of petitioners are actually heard (usually they just detain the petitioners and send them back home), I can understand the desperation. Petitioning the government in Beijing (if you can actually get there) is regarded as a last resort.
Since the suppression of pro-democracy demonstrations in 1989, Tiananmen Square has become a known venue for protest and its traffic is closely watched by the police.

Normally, soldiers are placed inside the square with fire extinguishers by their feet - in order to stop any intruders from setting themselves on fire, our correspondent adds.

Wow. I did see lot of cameras in Tiananmen Square but no solders or police with fire extinguishers. I wish they would address the root cause of issues (corrupt officials and police abuse) instead of just focusing on putting out fires (literally) and preventing protests/saving face. It's so lame that local officials are rewarded for blocking petitioners from reaching Beijing versus actually solving problems.

Tiananmen Square cameras: 大哥 is watching...

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