Beijing professor's remarks spark angry protests

Protesters tried to storm a university to confront a professor who said nearly all petitioners - people who come to Beijing to ask the central government for help - are mentally ill and should be put away. Law professor Sun Dongdong's comments, published in a March issue of China Newsweek magazine, triggered outrage among petitioners who routinely flock to Beijing by the thousands to air complaints after their local governments ignore them. About 40 people gathered outside the elite Peking University gates Friday morning, scattering leaflets and shouting for the professor to come out to talk to them. They tried to pass through the gates, but dozens of security forces stopped them. They were then put into buses and taken away. The incident capped more than a week of demonstrations outside the university. So far, dozens of protesters have been sent away on buses or taken away by police, other protesters and state media said. The situation has drawn fresh attention to the plight of petitioners - mostly from China's vast and poor countryside - who have come to symbolize the country's failure to build a justice system that ordinary Chinese consider fair.