Five Held After Land Dispute Clashes in China's Sichuan

2015-01-14
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Farmers work in a field in Taihe township of Dongpo district in Meishan city, southwest China's Sichuan Province, May 5, 2014.
Farmers work in a field in Taihe township of Dongpo district in Meishan city, southwest China's Sichuan Province, May 5, 2014.
Xinhua

Authorities in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan are holding at least five people following clashes with hundreds of angry farmers who tried to prevent their land from being taken over on Wednesday.

The clashes began at around noon local time in a village in Yongxing township near Sichuan's provincial capital Chengdu after local residents tried to prevent the authorities from taking over their farmland.

More than 100 police and security guards were sent to the scene, where they set upon the protesters, beating them and detaining five of them.

An elderly man was taken to hospital with injuries after the clashes, Yongxing residents told RFA.

"They came and tried to requisition our land today, to take over our grain fields, and we tried to protect our fields," Yu Shuhua, resident of Yongxing's Gantang village, said.

"We grow grain on these fields for our own food, so we didn't want them to do this. We never signed anything, and they were just taking the land over by force."

Yu said more than 100 police, firefighters, riot police and security guards came to the scene and detained some of the locals.

"They confiscated our vehicles, and produced no documents of any kind," he said. "Five people have been detained, and several more are injured."

A second villager who declined to be named confirmed Yu's account.

"More than 100 police, rescue services and riot police...came out here," he said. "They brought towing trucks."

"The villagers tried to obstruct them, but they couldn't...One elderly guy was injured and was taken to hospital."

He said police had sealed off the area and stopped any traffic passing through on nearby roads.

New highway

Gantang Village is home to some 200 people and around 200 mu (13 hectares) of farmland, and the authorities want the land to build a new highway, local residents said.

According to the Sichuan-based rights website Tianwang, six people were detained and one injured, naming four of the detained as Li Min, Zhu Xinjiang, Guo Dan and Liu Bin.

According to Yu Shuhua, local officials have repeatedly changed their minds about the reason for the land requisition.

"First they said it was for a highway, then they said it was to build a hospital," Yu said. "There has been no paperwork of any kind."

He said local people had gone to inquire about the paperwork linked to the land grab at their local Tianfu New District government offices.

"They said there was no paperwork," Yu said.

Repeated calls to the local police station rang unanswered during office hours on Wednesday.

Mass incidents

The requisitioning of rural land for lucrative property deals by cash-hungry local governments triggers thousands of "mass incidents" across China every year, as do protests against pollution or feared pollution.

Many result in violent suppression, the detention of the main organizers, and intense pressure on the local population to comply with the government's wishes.

Last Saturday, authorities in the central province of Hunan dispatched around 100 police to disperse a crowd that gathered outside government offices in a township near Hunan's Yongzhou city in protest at the loss of their farmland.

"The compensation should have been 58,000 yuan (U.S. $9,365) per mu (0.6 hectares), but the government only gave us 28,000 yuan (U.S. $4,520) per mu," a resident of Jiantouwei village told RFA on Wednesday.

"We think the rest must have found its way into the pockets of the village and township officials," he said.

"When the villagers sought out higher authorities to complain, they said they...should seek out the village committee instead."

An official who answered the phone at the Jiantouwei village committee offices confirmed that one protester had been injured during "a petitioning incident."

"He is in the hospital," the official said, but declined to comment further.

An employee who answered the phone at the nearby township government offices hung up the phone when asked to comment on Saturday's incident.

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Lin Jing for the Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

CH. 1: MANDARIN | CANTONESE

CH. 2: VIETNAMESE | BURMESE | KOREAN

CH. 3: KHMER | LAO | UYGHUR

CH. 4: TIBETAN

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