Censors Block News of Wukan

Villagers turn out in large numbers to protest seizure of their land in China's Guangdong province.
2011-12-14
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A cell phone photo shows thousands of villagers protest a land grab by local officials in Wukan, Dec. 14, 2011.
A cell phone photo shows thousands of villagers protest a land grab by local officials in Wukan, Dec. 14, 2011.
AFP

Chinese authorities have moved in recent days to block online content related to an escalating land protest in a Guangdong village, as residents said they are now besieged by security forces.

A video showing several thousand villagers congregating at the Mazu Temple in Wukan village, near the port city of Shanwei, was posted on popular microblogging sites Sina and Tencent Weibo, and was quickly removed by censors.

The video showed large numbers of villagers sitting on the ground in the temple courtyard in protest at the detention of their representatives by police.

"Down with corrupt officials!" the crowd chants, then, "Compensation for blood spilled!"

Tensions have been running high in Wukan since clashes with police at the weekend and the death of Xue Jinbo, who "fell ill" on his third day in detention, officials in the nearby city of Shanwei, said.

Xue was later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. A representative of local farmers in the land dispute, he had been detained for inciting the villagers to protest, and villagers suspect he was beaten to death by police.


The Guangdong provincial procuratorate issued a statement on Tuesday following Xue's autopsy denying any signs of external injures.

"There were no signs of external force that could have led to death," the statement said, adding, "To determine the actual cause of death, further investigation will be required."

Villagers called on central government officials in Beijing to carry out their own probe, however.

Villagers block police

By Tuesday lunchtime, both Sina and Tencent were deleting any posts containing "Wukan," apart from officially approved reports on the situation there.

Wukan villagers say they have actively repelled riot police from entering their village in large numbers for the past week, although police have continued to make raids by day and night, arresting local residents suspected of helping to organize recent protests over alleged official corruption linked to the sale of farmland.

A resident surnamed Huang said villagers were going ahead with plans to stage a protest outside municipal government buildings in Lufeng.

"The villagers are pretty angry," he said. "The government still hasn't sent anyone to meet our demands and sort things out."

"They are pouring oil on the fire ... They never even agreed to investigate the corruption."

A second villager who declined to be named said villagers were now totally besieged.

"We are in Wukan, and we can't get out," she said, confirming that villagers had attended a meeting on Tuesday with local officials.

"The main thing we talked about was we were calling on the government to give us back our land," she said. "We want central government to come and save Wukan."

Land 'stripped away'

Villagers say they have lost their livelihoods following massive sell-offs of rural farmland and loss of access to their old fishing port facilities.

"Things are very hard for us here in Wukan," the second villager said. "Our land has been totally stripped away by those officials and sold off."

"They didn't give us a cent, nor any land [in compensation.]" she said. "If they were to compensate us for the land, then we would accept that."

Shops and restaurants remained closed in Wukan on Wednesday, local residents said.

Sichuan-based rights activist Huang Qi on Tuesday hit out at the authorities' response to the stand-off in Wukan.

"Not only are the authorities not recognizing the interests of ordinary people, they are suppressing them with violence," said Huang, who founded the Tianwang rights website. "We want to express the strongest protest and condemnation of the Wukan incident."

He called on China's parliament, the National People's Congress, to send an investigative team to Wukan to probe the villagers' corruption allegations, and to include villagers in the process.

"They must also find who is responsible for the death that occurred during the Wukan incident, and make public the results of the investigation," Huang said.

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

Comments (3)
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Anonymous Reader

This should be big news in China but you don't see it on any TV channel or official media which censors news like this.

Dec 16, 2011 10:33 AM

Anonymous Reader

Xue is simply latest example of a citizen protest leader who is beaten to death under PRC police custody. The government then lies about him supposedly have gotten ill or having died while playing hide-and-go-seek. Even a three-foot tall child can see through such lies from the party and government.

Dec 15, 2011 09:41 AM

Anonymous Reader

This only the beginning. The beginning of an end of a regime. Stand strong people, united for your cause. Some people already gave their lives; don't let them go to waste.

Dec 15, 2011 02:23 AM

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