Wukan Teacher Fired Over Poll

First her father died in a Chinese village uprising, now she loses her job.

Xue Jianwan, daughter of a local leader who died in police custody from the rebel Chinese village of Wukan, talks on the phone, Dec. 15, 2011.

The daughter of a local political activist who died during violent protests in the rebel Guangdong village of Wukan has been forced out of her job as a primary school teacher because she wants to contest in village committee elections.

The move came as villagers highlighted continuing government interference in the running of the election.

Xue Jianwan's father Xue Jinbo died in police custody at the height of the December standoff at the barricades between local people and thousands of armed police that prompted a probe by the provincial government.

An official autopsy said he had died of a heart attack, but relatives who identified his body said it was covered in bruises from head to foot.

The authorities have refused to release Xue Jinbo's body to his relatives until the family "admits" he died of illness, and Xue Jianwan has been outspoken in her opposition to the official view of events.

Xue told a gathering of more than 1,000 Wukan residents on Wednesday that she had agreed to the school's request in order to pursue the deputy chairman seat on the seven-member village committee to be elected Saturday.

"The school has told me several times that if I plan to run for the village committee, then I must resign from my job," she told the crowd at a meeting in the village square, outside the temple to the sea-goddess Matsu.

"My mind was made up that I would stand, so the school fired me, but I don't care, because I think that it's more meaningful to do something for the people of this village than to be a civil service teacher," Xue said.

"I also want to do something for my father, to carry out his wishes."

Family concerns

She said that while the loss of her job had been something of a relief to her, her family were still concerned for their safety amid the continuing dispute over the cause of her father's death.

"They are worried that it will be dangerous to follow in my father's footsteps," Xue said. "They worry about how I will make a living, and that my younger siblings studying elsewhere in China will be affected."

"They are worried about my personal safety and the safety of other family members...but I am not afraid of this. They are also concerned that our family will be ruined."

The requisitioning of rural land for lucrative property deals by cash-hungry local governments sparks thousands of "mass incidents" across China every year, but 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.

In the case of Wukan, however, the standoff with armed police who encircled the village sparked rare concessions following an investigation by the provincial government of Guangdong, which concluded that most of the villagers' demands and complaints were fair.

The authorities disbanded the previous village committee, which had been monopolized for decades by the ruling Chinese Communist Party village secretary and businessman Xue Chang.

They also appointed protest leader Lin Zuluan, who has been a Party member since 1965, in his place, and set up a directly elected committee to run the poll, which was slated for Thursday, but has since been rescheduled to Saturday.

Key figure

Acting village chief Yang Semao, also a key figure in the rebellion, is running for one of the deputy chairman positions.

He told the villagers on Wednesday he was confident of winning office, and that he would continue to fight to regain their lost farmland after the poll.

Fellow protester Zhang Jiancheng, who was detained along with Xue Jinbo during the protests, warned that the government had sent "working groups" to the village to interfere in the elections.

He said villagers were constantly working to throw off government restrictions in the run-up to Saturday's poll, and were currently planning to refuse media access to the voting area, as happened during elections for the organizing committee last month.

"The authorities are still trying to control the running of the elections, and they don't want us to hold full village meetings," Zhang said. "It was a real struggle to be allowed to hold this rally for speeches."

"We have already decided that the voting area will be our responsibility, and that we won't tolerate it's being off-limits to journalists."

"These will be open, free and fair elections," Zhang said.

Reported by Fung Yat-yiu for RFA's Cantonese service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.


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Mar 04, 2012 07:00 PM

Hun Sen is stuying all this track from Chinese goverment. He kill everybody who against his willingness. He is really a crook as Chinese leaders. V

Mar 03, 2012 02:41 AM

A curious heart condition of Xue Jinbo, that when under police custody his body became covered with bruises from head to foot. This is a first in the annals of heart disease.