Authorities in the eastern Chinese province of Shandong have detained a local land activist on public order offenses, his relatives said on Tuesday amid reports of violent, forced evictions.
Wang Yibing, a rights activist from Shandong's Jinan city, was taken away by a number of police on Monday afternoon, in an arrest that was filmed by bystanders on their mobile phones.
"They came in a car and took him away," said an eyewitness on Tuesday. "There were four or five people, and they grabbed him by the arms and took him away."
"We didn't see exactly what happened [after that]," she said.
She said a number of local residents had taken footage of Wang's detention, and had had their cell phones confiscated by the authorities.
"His family are extremely worried now," she said. "His parents aren't in very good health."
Wang's father traveled to Jinan, where his son was later released after being questioned over alleged offenses, including "inciting a mass gathering," and "disturbing the local order."
Wang said following his release on Tuesday that the detention was the fourth since he had begun campaigning two years ago on behalf of local families for compensation for land affected by subsidence in the wake of widespread illegal mining near his hometown of Weishan city.
"This is the fourth time [this has happened]," Wang said. "Last time it was for helping petitioners from Jinan."
He said police pressured him to sign an agreement promising not to leave Jinan city ahead of the forthcoming 18th Party Congress and a crucial leadership transition for the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
"Of course I didn't agree," he said. "After that they started to talk about 'incitement' and 'splitting'."
"I told them straight that these were just abstract concepts," Wang said. "What was I supposed to have split or incited?"
He said his rights work had proved problematic for his father, who is Party secretary in the family's home village.
"I went back to my hometown to help the villagers protect their rights," Wang said. "You could say that this is a form of opposition to my father."
"Of course he has come under pressure, because he is in the Party, but he and I have different points of view."
He said he would return to his hometown and continue his rights work as soon as possible.
According to investigative journalist Gao Qinrong, intensive exploitation of coal seams in the past few decades to meet skyrocketing energy demands has undermined the geological structure of the earth itself in many mining counties in northern China.
On Aug. 15, 2011, the whole of Pangpangta village in northern Shanxi province was swallowed up by subsidence.
Meanwhile, residents of around 10 households elsewhere in Shandong said on Tuesday that they had been forcibly evicted from their homes by a demolition gang.
Some of the residents were injured in clashes with several dozen personnel, who demolished their homes in spite of an agreement reached last week in which the authorities had promised to solve the dispute through mediation.
A local resident, Peng Guozhu, said residents of Guanzhaying village near the eastern port city of Qingdao had been taken by surprise by the sudden and violent attack on their homes.
"Our homes were forcibly demolished this morning, just before 7.00 a.m.," Peng said. "About 40 or 50 people came...with big sticks and bars, and they beat up my brother."
"They held everyone against their will in a nearby primary school, and then they demolished all of our houses, more than a dozen homes," he said.
He said people's belongings had been smashed in the demolition. "My brother's wallet and ID card are under the rubble."
He said calls to the emergency services and a local government help-desk had met with no response.
"The Communist Party is so corrupt now; we'd be better off as a U.S. colony."
Calls to the demolitions and evictions office of the local government went unanswered during office hours on Tuesday.
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.
In recent years, property owners all over China have complained that existing leasehold contracts are being flouted by local officials and developers keen to swell revenue coffers with lucrative land deals.
Reported by Wen Yuqing for RFA's Cantonese service, and by Qiao Long for the Mandarin service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.