HONG KONG—Tensions remain high in China’s southern province of Guangdong after police fired on a crowd protesting the construction of a wind power plant near the city of Shanwei, killing at least two people.
Witnesses and Dongzhou Hospital authorities near the port city of Shanwei told RFA’s Mandarin and Cantonese services that by 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, villagers Jiang Hu and Jiang Guanji had died in the local hospital while a third, identified as Tang Daxiang, was receiving emergency treatment.
Residents remained tense and fearful Wednesday, with rumors of another attack by riot police later that evening.
“They say that the police are going to come and smash up people’s homes tonight, so all the men have left the village, leaving old people and children,” one Dongzhou woman told RFA’s Cantonese service.
“I can’t leave because my child is here. We want to send a message to the central government in Beijing to do something, otherwise we are going to have a major incident.”
She said five or six people were thought to have died in Tuesday’s shootings, when several hundred riot police opened fire on unarmed villagers. “Some of the bodies are still on the street. No one has picked them up,” she said.
Another villager said Tuesday: “There is a dead body on the street yet to be retrieved. Many are wounded by gunshots. I don’t know what kind of guns. I just know they were using real bullets on us. No policemen were wounded.”
“The hospital has become a virtual funeral hall with family members of the dead crying,” one villager told reporter Ding Xiao.
“They were bleeding. One was hit in the head, one in the foot, and one in the torso. They have been rushed to Dongzhou Hospital. We have prepared detonators. We’re ready to fight,” another said.
Calls to the Dongzhou police station during office hours Wednesday went unanswered, while employees who answered the phone at the Shanwei municipal government denied that any such incident had taken place in Dongzhou village.
The hospital has become a virtual funeral hall with family members of the dead crying.
An official at Dongzhou Hospital confirmed two deaths Tuesday, while another confirmed that a third shooting victim was undergoing emergency treatment.
“They were firing shots. But they were afraid to move in. We had blocked the roads with water pipes, gasoline, and detonators,” another villager said. “And there were about 10,000 villagers there. We tried calling the central government several times for help. But all we got was answering machines.”
According to several eyewitness accounts, hundreds of riot police moved into the site of the wind power plant Monday after a long-simmering dispute over how much villagers should be paid for land slated to become a wind-power plant.
On Tuesday, around midday, three representatives from Dongzhou village went to the site to see what was happening. The three villagers were immediately detained, witnesses said.
We are really scared. We need your help. The riot police are at the entrance of our village. There are several hundred of them.
Shortly after 5 p.m., thousands of villagers showed up at the site of the plant and demanded the release of the three representatives, they said. Police stationed inside the power plant fired tear gas at the crowd but caused no serious injuries.
Later Tuesday, authorities dispatched several hundred more riot police to the site of the plant but they were stopped outside Dongzhou village by villagers.
“We are really scared. We need your help. The riot police are at the entrance of our village. There are several hundred of them, between 400 and 500,”one villager said in an interview that was cut off several times.
Asked about the incident, Li Min, deputy mayor of Shanwei and chief of public security, said “I don’t know” and hung up. Calls to the Guangdong provincial public security office and the Guangdong provincial government went unanswered.
A duty officer who answered the phone at the Dongzhou police station said, “I am not familiar with the situation.” Asked to confirm that two villagers had died, he said, “There is no such thing,” and hung up.
Local sources said construction began on a wind-power plant several months ago but halted amid a dispute over land compensation.
Original reporting in Cantonese by Mei Kin-kwan, and in Mandarin by Ding Xiao. RFA Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. RFA Cantonese service director: Shiny Li. Written in English by Sarah Jackson-Han. Additional translation and editing by Luisetta Mudie.