News broke out over the weekend that local police in Lu’an, Anhui province, used violence towards a group of teachers who gathered near the municipal government to demand better wages and the release of their delayed bonuses from 2016. On May 28, Guangming Daily, a state-owned newspaper, published a commentary (in Chinese), calling the brutal treatment of angry teachers “unacceptable” and the low pay that they were protesting “a thing to be ashamed of.”
According to a statement (in Chinese) released by local authorities on May 27, the incident occured on Saturday morning when some 40 teachers from two local schools staged a protest in front of the municipal government building, demonstrating their discontent about low wages and delayed payment of their annual bonus two years ago.
Videos circulated online show the police chasing protesters, pulling their hands behind their backs, and handcuffing some of them.
The police said in the announcement that they tried to ask protesters to leave in a peaceful way. Then, after some failed attempts, they found the demonstration was a “severe disruption of public order” and decided to “take some teachers away forcibly in accordance with laws.” The confrontation lasted about an hour. The 16 teachers who were taken into custody were released later in the afternoon and left with school officials. The statement doesn’t address the issue of police brutality at the rally, but it encourages protesters to report if they encountered violence.
Sixth Tone reported that before resorting to protesting, teachers from Jin’an District in Lu’an, a rural area in Anhui, had previously circulated a petition letter, in which they complained about the delayed payment of their 2016 annual bonus, which is around 36,000 yuan per person, while teachers in other districts, especially in the city, had already been rewarded. They also felt underpaid and demanded a salary increase.
It’s reported that after the confrontation happened, most teachers in Lu’an received calls from their school authorities, who warned them not to attend similar protests in the future.
In light of the news, Guangming Daily published its opinion piece (in Chinese) yesterday. Titled “Please be kind to people who help continue civilization,” the article argues, “At a time when the poverty alleviation efforts are targeting every household in the country, we should feel ashamed when hearing that teachers, whose salaries should be supported by national finance, are making public appeals in order to get paid.”