Police in central China’s Hubei province have been called in to quash protests over the mysterious death of a man in a government-owned hotel, eyewitnesses told Reuters on Saturday.
“There are still a lot of armed police around,” a local resident surnamed Chen told Reuters. “But they haven’t convinced (the protestors) to go home yet.”
On June 17, Xu Yuangao, a 24-year-old chef, was found dead at the Yonglong Hotel in the city of Shishou, and while the police say they found a suicide note, Xu’s family continue to allege foul play.
And from AFP:
“There were at least 10,000 people gathered near the hotel yesterday (Friday). Police were being chased away by residents, who were hitting the police,” a woman employee at a nearby hotel told AFP by phone.
The woman, who would not give her name, said she also saw police vehicles that were damaged or overturned.
She added that large crowds were still present on Saturday near the Yonglong hotel where the man was a chef.
The official Xinhua news agency reported that more than one thousand people crowded outside the hotel at 5pm (0900 GMT) Saturday, with hotel walls “blackened by fire,” it said.
Amateur video of the incident is up on YouTube:
Update: Reuters reports on Sunday that calm has been restored to Shishou:
Crowds that clashed with paramilitary police in a small town in central China on Saturday have dispersed, leaving police in control, local residents and state media said on Sunday.
Unusually, the protestors in Shishou, Hubei province, appear to have included local government employees, showing the depth of dissatisfaction in the city of 620,000.
Crowds set fire to the Yonglong Hotel on Friday night after the death of 24-year-old chef Tu Yuangao. The man’s family had refused to accept the hotel management’s explanation that Tu had committed suicide by jumping out a window.
By Saturday, the confrontation had escalated into one of the most serious “mass incidents” in China since the alleged rape of a teenage girl found dead in Weng’an, Guizhou province, sparked riots last year involving 30,000 angry locals.