Beijing Orders Crackdown After Guangdong Christmas Killings


2006-02-16
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A farmer waters her crops in China’s Guangdong province. Photo: AFP/Frederic J. Brown

HONG KONG—Central government authorities in Beijing have ordered a speedy crackdown on residents of Liannan county in the southern province of Guangdong after demonstrations and shootings that left one police officer and three villagers dead, officials said.

“We are holding eight people here at the moment,” an officer at the Liannan county police station told RFA’s Cantonese service. “There are another four locked up in Lianzhou. There are still many more that we haven’t got yet, about 60 people.”

“This is a special case. Central government knows about it, so it will be wrapped up very quickly,” the officer said.

This is a special case. Central government knows about it, so it will be wrapped up very quickly.

In the first report to surface of the violent clashes in Liannan, the official South China Metropolis News reported Monday that police had arrested four men, including Fang Gaoliu and three others, on suspicion of plotting to organize two separate “mass incidents” in Guangdong’s Damaishan township.

Official media report

They were detained Dec. 24, 2005 by police in the Yao Minority Autonomous County, the paper, which is based in the southern island province of Hainan, said.

Fang’s wife confirmed her husband’s arrest. “That evening a lot of people came—it wasn’t clear why. We hadn’t done anything to make them mad at us.”

Asked about allegations in official news reports that her husband had tried to organize two “mass incidents,” she said: “No, he didn’t.”

The arrests sparked demonstrations by villagers calling for the release of Fang and the others on Dec. 25, the paper said.

According to local media reports, villagers pulled the deputy chief of the police station onto a minibus and took him back to their village.

En route, he was beaten and injured, and he took out his handgun. He was killed by a blow to the head by Fang Gaoliu’s younger brother Fang Gaoyi, the South China Metropolis News said.

Fang not allowed family visits

According to local media reports, four people died in the incident and six others were injured.

“A lot of people have run away,” the Liannan county police officer said. “Things are moving very fast on this case now, with a lot of people being arrested.”

Fang Gaoliu’s wife said that since his detention, no relatives had been given permission to see him.

A student from Damaishan township told RFA’s Mandarin service reporter Fang Yuan Tuesday that the deputy police chief had first killed villagers before becoming the victim of a revenge attack.

“The police officer killed villagers. I don’t know if this was by mistake or not. I heard that he was trying to escape them and took out his gun, and that the villagers were killed by accident with his gun when he was trying to escape,” the student said.

Conflicting reports emerged from villagers as to the motive behind Fang’s arrest.

Some speculated that he had been scapegoated for the theft of a county official’s valuables, while others linked the clashes to breaches of family planning quotas, which are sometimes enforced coercively, even violently, by rural Chinese officials eager to avoid fines for exceeding birth targets.

Several local officials contacted by RFA declined to give further details. A reporter at the South China Metropolis News said further reporting of the case was banned for the time being.

Original reporting in Cantonese by Lillian Cheung, and in Mandarin by Fang Yuan. RFA Cantonese service director: Shiny Li. RFA Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Translated and written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.

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