HONG KONG—Several hundred villagers in an ethnic minority region of China's southwestern Guangxi province are in a standoff with local officials over a proposed property development on land near their homes.
"The governments of Hechi city and Du'an Yao autonomous county have used the force of the law against residents of Anyang township and Bantun village, beating up and detaining them, including women and elderly people, in an attempt to resolve a dispute between villagers and the Baicai property developers, with whom the government has underworld connections," read the text attached to a video of clashes between police and local residents, posted on video-sharing site YouTube.
Several hundred people have been kicking up a fuss outside the county government office buildings. It's all over land."
"There has been no regard for the villagers' safety. On Oct. 14, they used underworld forces to attack the people, forcing them off disputed land and going ahead with proposed construction of buildings. We call on higher levels of government to pursue those responsible," the statement said.
Residents of Du'an Yao autonomous county confirmed the clashes had occurred.
"There are people going to protest outside the county government offices about this matter every day," a local business owner said.
"It's hard to say how many there are. Sometimes a dozen, sometimes 20, sometimes 30 people."
Riot police and officials
He said clashes had taken place with some injuries.
"There were people from the county government and from the township government [clashing with villagers]. Also police. Basically a bunch of official types on one side, the ordinary people on the other," he said.
A villager surnamed Tan said the unrest had continued over several weeks.
"There has been a lot of unrest here in the past couple of days," he said Thursday.
"Several hundred people have been kicking up a fuss outside the county government office buildings. It's all over land."
The video shows several hundred uniformed police including officers in full riot gear. Initially there is scuffling and shoving, and then the riot police start to use their batons on the villagers. There are screams and shouts from the scene.
Several police officers lead away one villager and throw them aboard the minibus. Another woman lies on the ground, with no one attending to her. Two elderly people are shown being taken to hospital for injuries sustained in the clashes.'Referred to higher authorities'
An employee who answered the phone at the Anyang township government didn't deny the dispute had taken place.
"Right now they are not trying to procure land any more," he said, adding that the matter had been referred to higher levels of government.
An officer who answered the phone at the Anyang township police station refused to comment.
"Come here and ask," he said. "Where are you calling from? I don't know about this. You should come here to the police station and ask or go to the county government."
Land-related protests are increasingly common across China, as local officials and developers sign lucrative property deals, often with scant compensation for and little discussion with the farming communities whose land they take.
Legal challenges to such developments are rarely effective, and complaints lodged after the event can be ignored for decades, with those trying to pursue them frequently monitored and detained.Original reporting in Mandarin by Ding Xiao. Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Translated and written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.