On Oct. 1, a former Chinese Communist Party (CCP) village branch secretary, Chen Yunlin, in Bahe Township, Huanggang City, Hubei Province, used gasoline and set fire to local villager, Chen Dayan’s, home while he, his family and the broader community celebrated his 70th birthday. The act was allegedly in retaliation for a past petition by Chen Dayan complaining about the local party chief’s destruction of his farmland years ago, The Epoch Times reported.
The arson resulted in the deaths of three people and 20 others were injured.
According to a relative of Chen Dayan, Mr. Chen spoke with an Epoch Times reporter stating that Chen Yunlin brought two barrels of gasoline into the house and splashed it around while the guests were celebrating. Chen Yunlin then ignited the gasoline and the whole house was engulfed in flames within a few minutes.
A relative of Chen Dayan’s described the scene, “There are more than eighty people on the scene, Chen Yunlin carried two barrels of gasoline, he entered the door threw the fuel to the ground, directly lit it with a lighter; the gasoline immediately caught on fire and the whole house was on fire.”
There was no way to stop it. The fire, ignited with gasoline, spread too quickly. Within only a few seconds, the fire had engulfed the house.
Another villager interviewee, going by the pseudonym, Li Mei, witnessed Chen Yunlin drive his car to the door of Chen Dayan’s home, carrying two large barrels of gasoline. He opened the lids, threw the barrels in the house, then ran away as soon as he threw a lighter on the gas.
“Someone at the door saw him coming, got up in a hurry, but still did not have time to run away; someone tried to grab his gasoline but failed, then got gasoline spilled on his hands, he was burned; some people stepped out with oil on their shoes so they got their feet burned; someone went after Chen Yunlin, in the process of chasing, a knife fell out of Chen Yunlin’s pocket,” Li Mei told The Epoch Times, in anger.
According to Li Mei, it was confirmed that three people died. A seventy-year-old man, an 8-year-old girl, and a 34-year-old local traffic police officer with the surname Chen. Chen Dayan’s many relatives are in a Wuhan intensive care unit. Some of his family members were disfigured.
One of Chen Yunlin’s family members said with sorrow, “There are 3 people killed; there are 20 people with serious burns; they are all in the intensive care unit, but we are not allowed to visit. There are six people in the general ward, most injured are relatives, and some neighbors also have minor injuries.” One of them is an 85-year-old man with burns on up to 90 percent of his body, most others are 60 percent to 80 percent, and the low degree ones are 40 percent and 50 percent.
Mr. Chen also said that the injured people are actually the backbone of the Chen family. People with burns may face many problems later, and now 90 percent of them are basically disabled. Even if they could survive, they would lose the ability to work.
Around 5:00 pm on the day of the incident, the arsonist Chen Yunlin was arrested by the local police. It is said that his hands and body were also burned.
Huanggang Public Security Bureau asked villagers to delete internet postings
The injured family members’ cell phones were reportedly bugged and the Huanggang Public Security Bureau ordered family members to delete any information about the incident.
A family member of Mr. Chen said, “Now we don’t know what to do in the future. Now our cell phones are being monitored.”
For the specific casualties, Bahe town government, and the Bahe town police station staff refused to give the details, declining to answer questions claiming the information was too “inconvenient to disclose.”
According to Li Mei, the casualties as a result of the arson at Chen Dayan’s family banquet have been covered up by the government for more than ten days, but now it appears that they cannot hide it any longer.
Some villagers posted online in an attempt to expose the cover-up. Huanggang Public Security Bureau ordered the villagers to delete the posts.
The perpetrator, Chen Yunlin, 59, is a corrupt “village bully” with a government background, and had previously served as a village branch secretary, as well as the representative of the National People’s Congress.
Retaliation against petitioning villagers
Based on Li Mei and another villager’s understanding, Chen Dayan was an ordinary farmer, and the only “wrongdoing” he and other villagers committed was to appeal and report Chen Yunlin and other officials because of their destructive activities towards the local cultivable land.
However, their many years of petitioning were all in vain. Even worse, they, especially Chen Dayan, were retaliated against by Chen Yunlin. It was not a dispute between two village party officials as claimed by some state media.
On October 13, calls to the Bahe town government’s phone number, in an attempt to gain more information, were not answered or callers received a busy signal.