11 May 2013

Internet pledge campaign

3:05 pm on 11 May 2013

Millions of internet users in China have launched a campaign following the death of a woman in Beijing last week.

Police concluded Yuan Liya, 22, a clothing store employee, jumped from a building but the BBC reports there are persistent rumours that she was gang-raped by security guards in the mall where she worked and thrown from a high balcony.

In response, many people are attempting to protect themselves from what they fear could be a similar fate.

The BBC reports millions of internet users have posted online pledges not to kill themselves in recent days.

"I will never commit suicide," the postings say. "If I die unexpectedly, I was killed by others and the police should investigate the crime."

With more than 20 million postings, "anti-suicide pledges" are now the second most popular topic on weibo, China's version of Twitter.

"I have no history of mental illness. No matter what bad situation I will be in the future, I will not commit suicide," writes Cheng Tao, a political cartoonist.

"If I die by accident, my death was engineered by other people. My internet friends, please pursue my case until the end.

''I have been invited to drink tea (a euphemism for a meeting with police) three times this year and my internet account has been deleted 18 times."

"It is not impossible this will happen to me."

The BBC says the trend highlights a serious lack of trust in public institutions, ranging from the police to the courts.

Public pledges against committing suicide first surfaced in China last year, after a prominent political dissident reportedly hung himself in a hospital room, while police were reportedly guarding his door.

But family and friends said his severe physical disabilities make this explanation of his death impossible.