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Authorities in Gansu Province have denied stripping and beating seven women who were trying to appeal in Beijing in April. The allegations first surfaced via an online post. The issue has attracted widespread attention from netizens.
Seven women from China's northwestern Gansu province say they were stripped and beaten by thugs back in April—when they tried to appeal in Beijing. They were appealing against corruption involving the 2008 Sichuan earthquake relief fund. Authorities on Monday denied using violence.
The victims, seen in this photo taken afterwards, had traveled to Beijing to appeal, but were intercepted by authorities and forcibly taken back to Gansu Province.
[Yang Xiqin, Victim]:
"They called some thugs who came in a car—around 20 of them. They grabbed our hair and dragged us onto the car and started to beat us. They stripped our clothes off. During the drive, they refused to give us food or let us go to the bathroom."
This woman, Zhang Xiaoli, says her leg was fractured during the ordeal.
The alleged abuse was first exposed in May via China's microblogging site weibo.com. This past Saturday, this picture of the women surfaced online. That same night, police called them in for questioning.
On Monday, authorities from Hui County in Gansu Province admitted to forcing the women back to the province, but denied they were beaten. A state-run media report claimed Zhang's leg was broken because she fell over after kicking her daughter.
Shanghai Daily reports the original blog post has now been removed. But the message has been reposted by Chinese netizens. This blogger said on Tuesday he believes the women's version of events, and wants authorities to let them speak freely to the media.