A Chinese family was reportedly taken to a cemetery in the Swedish capital of Stockholm last Sunday after being denied hotel check-in, according to a statement released by Chinese Embassy in Sweden, prompting massive discussions on social media both home and abroad.
After arriving at a Stockholm hotel in the early morning on September 2, a Chinese tourist, surnamed Zeng, with his 64 and 67 years old parents, found out that the room they booked was not available for check-in until later in the daytime, according to reports by the Global Times.
Considering the poor health condition of his elderly parents, Zeng asked staff at the hotel if they could rest in the lobby and they would love to pay a fee. Unexpectedly, the staff told them to leave immediately. If not, they would have to call the police, according to Zeng.
After the police arrived, Zeng showed the prescription of his parents to the police and asked if his parents could stay at the hotel and he would leave himself. However, the police denied the request and dragged his father out of the hotel and threw him to the ground.
Zeng said his father, who is suffering from cardiovascular disease, lost consciousness and his body started twitching. The scuffle gradually attracted more passersby, some of them condemned the police behavior.
"The police offered no humanitarian assistance to us during the emergency," Zeng said.
Several minutes later, more armed police officers arrived and took Zeng and his parents into a police car. The officers asked them if they were refugees or tried to use violence.
"They kept beating my parents and even threatened to abandon us in the woods with wild animals," Zeng said.
After an hour of driving, Zeng found that he was together with his family taken to a cemetery, eight kilometers away from the hotel.
A half hour later, a passerby drove Zeng and his parents back to Stockholm downtown. Upon arrival, Zeng immediately notified the Chinese Embassy and informed the local police of the incident.
“We just wanted to leave this place and go back home,” said Zeng.
The Chinese Embassy in Sweden issued a safety alert on September 14 reminding Chinese citizens in Sweden to be alert and take precautionary measures.
A day later, spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in Sweden said that the embassy is "deeply appalled and angered by what happened and strongly condemns the behavior of the Swedish police".
"We hope that the Swedish side will handle the case in accordance with law, and urge the Swedish side again to take immediate actions to protect the safety and legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens in Sweden", the Embassy said in a statement.
The Swedish police department has yet to respond.
The incident has also sparked a heated discussion on Twitter.
"They should have claimed to be Syrian Migrants then they would have received a handsome #SocialWelfarePackage, a #FreePasstoAllCriminalActs and a #FreeAccomodation," said @Lizzie De on Twitter.
"I don't know what truth you are referring. If these tourists broke the laws or cause a scene, I believed there are standard procedures to handle them. But tossing them to somewhere near the cemetery sounds pretty awful. Unless you meant that's the Swedish police's standard', said @CheeKeat.
"To be fair, it is inappropriate for the hotel to do like that. But why didn't Zeng pay one more night for the room, especially when they know they will arrive in the midnight?" said @Suk_lowlow on China's Twitter-like Weibo platform.