SHENZHEN: China's first regional discrimination case came to a peaceful end when the Shenzhen police apologized for offending natives of Henan Province.
The case, triggered by two banners that called on the public to smash Henan racketeering gangs, has garnered attention from the whole country, but particularly among Henan natives.
After a local court mediation in Zhengzhou, capital city of Central China's Henan Province, Ren Chengyu and Li Dongzhao, two legal professionals in Zhengzhou, decided to drop further charges against the Longgang District Sub-station of Shenzhen, a booming city in South China's Guangdong Province.
The court settled the case on January 21, eight months since the hearings began. However, the ruling was not announced until the Xinhua News Service reported it on Wednesday.
Wu Zhouwei, a publicity officer of the Longgang District Sub-station, confirmed the news and reiterated that the station has spoken to its staff to prevent similar cases in the future.
Large banners were put up under the Longgang District Police Sub-station outside a produce market in early March, 2005. They read: "Resolutely strike at Henan racketeering gangs," and "Anyone with information on Henan gangs which leads to solving of the case will get a 500-yuan (US$61.7) reward."
After a media outcry, a spokesman for the police sub-station explained the banners were put up by a patrol officer without the approval of his supervisor. The officer claimed that in the first three months of 2005 the community police station had caught 17 suspects involved in five racketeering gangs all from Henan Province.
The police quickly removed the offending banners and have since apologized door to door to all the Henan natives in their district. However, Ren and Li insisted on a formal expression of contrition in a national media outlet, saying that a vocal apology "is far from enough to make up for the nationwide negative impact brought about by the banners."
Liu Kuanzhi, director of Longgang Police Sub-station said at a conference held last May in Shenzhen: "The banner targeting Henan-native gangs has hurt people from Henan Province and we sincerely apologize to them."
A suit was filed on April 15 in a local court in Zhengzhou, claiming the banners had infringed on the rights of the Henan people, damaged their reputation and caused mental trauma.
"It's a battle for reputation. The significance of the lawsuit is to correct the discrimination against Henan people. We should receive the same respect from the community like people from any other province," said Li Ming, a Henan native working in Shanghai.