The Chinese government faces mounting calls for a more thorough investigation of the high-profile case of a woman who was found chained inside a hut in eastern China.
Among those putting pressure on the ruling Communist Party and the Chinese State Council are the alumni of two top universities in China – Peking University and Tsinghua University – reported the South China Morning Post (SCMP).
The middle-aged Chinese woman, identified only as Yang, was found detained in a small hut with a chain around the neck by a vlogger who visited a small village in Xuzhou City, Jiangsu Province.
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On Feb. 15, a hundred alumni of Peking University published an online petition on Weibo asking for a proper investigation of the case.
“The tragic case and suffering of the Xuzhou woman has [sic] aroused widespread compassion, concern… as well as unsettling distress and anger,” read the petition, which was removed from the platform that evening.
The alumni said they are not satisfied with the investigations conducted by the local officers, which they find to be “unconvincing, inconsistent and full of flaws.” They are now urging central authorities to hold Xuzhou officials accountable, confirm the victim’s identity and put a stop to the trafficking of Chinese women.
Multiple other individual posts by users similarly calling for a more thorough investigation were also scrubbed from Chinese social media, according to SCMP.
Another petition posted to Twitter by the alumni of Tsinghua University remains uncensored.
Video footage of the woman’s shackled neck and pitiful living conditions drew immediate public outcry for justice online when it was first posted on the video platform Douyin last month.
According to local authorities in Jiangsu Province, the woman had been diagnosed with a mental illness and was kept in the shack by her legal husband of 24 years. She had eight children with the man who imprisoned her, NextShark reported.
Given her alleged mental health status, people online have questioned whether Yang was able to consent to the marriage.
Amid the growing public outrage, Xuzhou authorities recently arrested the husband for illegal imprisonment, in addition to two other individuals suspected of human trafficking. These recent actions follow their previous denial that this was a case of human trafficking, as many have suggested.
Featured Image via Douyin