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Horrible murder-suicide: Poverty drives young mother in Gansu to kill her four children and herself, grieved husband soon follows suit

By Alex Farley (People's Daily Online)    02:50, September 13, 2016

Yang Gailan's home

As a grim murder unfolds in rural China, the country’s social media is rife with questions and concerns about poverty.

On August 26th in China’s northern province of Gansu, a young mother, Yang Gailan, killed her four children, then proceeding to take her own life. Around 6:00 PM, the 28-year-old mother reportedly brought her four children to the small road behind their home in the mountain village of Agu. She then murdered each of them with an axe, according to local Kangle county authorities. Afterwards, she ingested agricultural chemicals and killed herself.

Yang Gailan

Ms. Yang, her husband, and their four children all lived together with Yang’s father and grandmother. On September 4th, eight days after the incident, Yang’s husband, Li Keying, was found dead in a forest. Overcome with the grief of losing his wife and kids, Li also chose to ingest poison and end his life.

The actual cause of the murder-suicide remains unclear, though there’s been plenty of speculation. Reportedly, shortly after the incident a dying Ms. Yang, smiling, said to her grandmother, “I was forced to… You don’t understand. I can’t make you understand.”

Yang Gailan's grandmother

Subsequent interviews with Agu locals revealed that the family lived in a home made of mud brick. Their financial straits were tough, and got tougher once villagers voted to cancel their low-income welfare. “The family didn’t talk much and were not popular. The welfare was thus allocated to families in favorable economic situations,” said an official.

In recent years, several reports of nepotism have surfaced, with welfare being given to those closer to village officials. Those in real need are often overlooked as a result.

Additionally, because of issues with the children’s “hukou” (China’s household registration system), they reportedly couldn’t attend school in the larger, wealthier urban area.

Still, the investigation has yet to reach a conclusion.

Yang's bedroom

However, their extremely poor living conditions have gained national attention, sparking a discussion on Chinese social media about the poor living conditions still prevalent in parts of rural China. While many feel sympathetic, others regard this type of behavior by parents as absolutely inexcusable. One person writes, “You can’t always wait anxiously for welfare. There’s a larger number of ways to escape poverty than there are challenges posed by it.”

Others see the tragedy as a reminder to be grateful. One person writes, “I’m reminded of a line from The Great Gatsby, to not carelessly criticize others, because not everyone’s conditions are as good as your own.” 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Editor: Zou Luxiao,Bianji)

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