Villagers Injured in Land Clash

A new protest over land development erupts in violence in northeast China.

villager-305.jpg A Yushu villager lies injured after clashes over a government bid to buy and develop land.
Photo provided by villagers.

HONG KONG—Authorities in the northeastern Chinese province of Heilongjiang said Tuesday they were investigating violent clashes between police and villagers protesting against land acquisition by the government, which left around 18 people injured.

"They tried forcefully to proceed with the construction, but we tried to stop them, as no compensation was ever paid," a villager from Yushu township near Heilongjiang's Fujin city said.

The villager, identified by his surname Meng, said 50 to 60 road construction workers came by truck last Thursday after villagers had occupied the disputed plot of land since the end of May.

"They beat us with shovels and other tools," Meng said. "Eighteen villagers got injuries on their heads, legs, and arms."

"Three or four injured villagers are still in hospital," he added.

The grandfather of 24-year-old Yu Bin said the young man had sustained brain damage and was in critical condition.

"My grandson had internal bleeding in his brain," Yu's grandfather said. "His kidney was also damaged. He is in critical condition in a local hospital."

He said authorities wanted to acquire farmland from Yushu residents to build a road. "They said they would compensate us villagers with farmland that is more than 50 kms away, so no one would take it," Yu said.

"As for monetary compensation, they could only give 5,200 yuan (about U.S. $760) per hectare. Many villagers came out to protect their land regardless of age and gender," Yu's grandfather said.

Police probe

Local police confirmed some villagers were injured. An officer who answered the phone at the Yushu township police station said: "We are still investigating the case, and so we are not obliged to say if any suspects have been arrested."

Yu Bin's grandfather said local government officials had made no public statement on the dispute, which is similar to thousands across China as local governments try to acquire land from farming communities to push forward often highly lucrative property and infrastruture developments.

"There was no response from the government, except that they let us stay in the hospital without paying a cash deposit," he said.

"We did call [the emergency services] for help, but no police showed up, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many injuries," he said. "And there were no reports seen on local media."

Original reporting in Mandarin by Ding Xiao. Translated by Jia Yuan. Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.


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