Authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong have detained seven people following clashes between police and local residents who tried to block exploration work by a mining company on former farmland.
The violence, in which many villagers had been beaten and bloodied by police, erupted last Thursday after workers for the Liancai Mining Co. accompanied by police entered Liwuyuan village to begin exploration work.
"They detained seven people, saying that they were gathering and causing a disturbance, and attacking police officers," according to a resident of Guangdong's Yangshan county surnamed Ouyang.
"They haven't let them go yet," said Ouyang, who lives in neighboring Huangniutan village.
"The villagers haven't dared to speak out openly about this incident since the last time the villagers clashed with police," Ouyang said. "They are afraid of being pursued."
Chinese police gear up to take on villagers opposed to the mining project. Photo by RFA
Some of the villagers opposed to the government taking of their land for the mining project were armed with bricks and chopping knives as they tried to stop the mining company's work team.
A villager surnamed Li said the authorities had sent large numbers of police to quell the unrest.
"The government mobilized a lot of people," Li said. "There were police vehicles and armed police with shields and batons, who started beating up anyone they saw."
He said many of the injured had taken refuge in Huangniutan village. "They came to the clinic in our village," Li said. "They had their heads wrapped up and blood all over their faces."'Secret'
An official who answered the phone at the Xiaojiang township government, which oversees both villages, declined to comment on the incident.
"This incident is being kept secret," she said. "We can't let you know the contents of secret materials so easily."
Calls to the Yangshan county government and the Liancai Mining Co. went unanswered during office hours on Monday.
In China, all land is ultimately owned by the state, but is allocated to rural communities under collective contract and through the household responsibility system that replaced state-run farms and communes.
Land acquisition for development, often resulting in lucrative property deals for local officials, sparks thousands of protests by local communities across China every month, many of which escalate into clashes with police.Reported by Fung Yat-yiu for RFA's Cantonese service, and by Qiao Long for the Mandarin service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.