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Is the Man Who Bombed Beijing's Airport a Terrorist or Victim?

A man in a wheelchair angry over his mistreatment by police set off a homemade bomb in Beijing Capital International Airport in the evening of July 20, 2013, injuring only himself.

Local media identified the man as Ji Zhongxing, who claims that his disabilities are the result of cruel beatings by police officers in the city of Dongguan in the southeast of China back in 2005.

A reporter from news site Nandu interviewed [zh] two lawyers who represented Ji back in 2006 and found out that Ji was beaten by seven to eight police officers with iron rods in Houde town of Dongguan city because he was running an illegal motorcycle taxi. His spine was permanently damaged from the treatment, but local police claimed that he injured himself when he fell from a motorcycle. Despite a witness who testified against the police, a local court ruled against Ji and in favor of the police in 2008.

Sina Weibo user @chenshimanhua uploaded an image capturing Ji Zhongxing's despair.

Sina Weibo user @chenshimanhua uploaded an image capturing Ji Zhongxing's despair.

Ji was forced to cover the court fees, which left him in debt. He traveled to Beijing and petitioned the Central Politics and Law Commission of the Communist Party of China for a review on his trial.

In 2010, the Houde town police station offered 100,000 yuan (15,000 US dollars) to Ji in exchange for a letter guaranteeing that he would stop his petition.

Terrorist or victim?

Most of the comments on Chinese social media expressed sympathy for Ji, seeing him as a victim of social and political injustice. Ji has started writing his experience in a blog since 2006, Feng Chingyang (@风青杨V) reviewed his blog and concluded [zh]:

我看了冀先生的博客,才发现起因只是因为摩的载客,结果却被打瘫痪了,全家人背债,到处上访却得不到合理赔偿。最后亲人纷纷早逝,慢慢的他的心也死了!我未必赞同冀先生对此事的处理方式,但如果我们想要这个国家不出现下一个冀先生,就必须关注他的“病根”,他开始是一个正常人,是谁让他变得不正常

I finished reading Mr. Ji's blog and found out that he was beaten and became crippled because of running an illegal motorcycle taxi. His family was in debt and they could not get any reasonable compensation after years of petitioning. His parents had passed away and his heart also died with them. I don't agree with the way Mr. Ji handled his misfortune. However, if we don't want to see another Mr. Ji in this country, we have to pay attention to the root of matter. He was a normal person in the very beginning, what made him abnormal?

However, a few believed that public security should be a priority. For example, media worker Yin Zhe (@凝哲同学) wrote [zh]:

中国的舆论场真是奇怪到近乎扭曲。有影响力的意见领袖们,不但不谴责在公共场合实施暴力袭击的人,反而因为暴徒未能伤害到更多的人而赞其为侠肝义胆。媒体不关注公众安全问题,反而开始用孤证为暴徒伸冤叫屈。这个世界究竟怎么了…波士顿爆炸案时候那同仇敌忾的劲儿都上哪儿去了?!

Public opinion in China is so twisted. The influential opinion leaders are not condemning those who launched a violent attack in public. Furthermore, they praised the thug as if he was a hero because he had not hurt others. The media paid no attention to public security because they were gathering all sorts of evidence to turn the thug into victim. What has happened to our society?… How come they reacted so differently during the Boston bombing incident?

But concerns over public safety did not gain much momentum online because Ji signaled others at the airport to stay away before setting off the bomb. Zhao Xiao (@赵晓), a professor at Beijing Technology University, defended [zh] Ji:

冀中星引爆前用了十分钟疏散民众,所以只伤了他自己。多么善良的百姓,这个国家谁敢站出来说:我比他更有义!

Before Ji Zhongxing set off the bomb, he spent 10 minutes making sure that no one was near him, that's why he just injured himself. He is such a simple-minded person. Who else in this country dares to step out and say: I am more righteous than him?

@Badiucao's political cartoon. Ji: when justice is deprived, I seek my own.

@Badiucao's political cartoon. Ji: when justice is deprived, I seek my own.

TV drama script writer @xiangrenli echoed [zh]:

冀中星给了我们法治社会大量的机会,但是我们所追求的法治社会没有给冀中星一丁点的机会,大量中国人只喜欢做围观者、做看客,看侩子手杀革命党,最后有人买人血馒头,没人去思考这个问题,冀中星绝不是最后一个。

Ji Zhongxing has given opportunities to our legal system, but our court does not give him any opportunity. Most Chinese like to be onlookers and enjoy watching the executioner kill the revolutionist. Some even buy buns tainted with blood [a symbol in Lu Xun's novel, Medicine, in which people believe that the buns can cure lung disease]. No one really reflects on the problem and Ji Zhongxing will not be the last [suicide bomber].

@yourwisdom shared [zh] similar view:

用生命换取了一次关注。体制源源不断的产生系统性恶果,分散在多少视线看不到的地方生根发芽?维稳又能压抑多久?

[Ji] used his life in exchange for public concern. The political system keeps reproducing evilness and its sprouts keep growing. For how long can stability control be effective?

“South of the sea” (@海之南) believed [zh] more bombs are out there:

每一个受不公正对待的公民,都是一颗不定时炸弹!不改变单纯维稳思路,积怨太多,就来不及拆除这些炸弹引信了!

All citizens who have faced injustice are a time bomb! To deactivate the bombs, grievances have to be channeled and addressed. Maintaining social stability through political control and repression is a dead end.

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