Guangxi Family Planning Protests Erupt Again in Rong County


2007.05.29
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Riot police face the crowds in Bobai county, Guangxi, May 2007. Photo: AFP

HONG KONG—Thousands of people have continued to riot in protest at abuses by family planning officials anxious to implement tough population controls in the southwestern Chinese region of Guangxi, residents said.

Around 3,000 residents of Shitao township in Guanxi's Rong county surrounded local government offices, clashing with police. At least a dozen villagers were arrested Wednesday, local residents told RFA's Cantonese service.

Protesters had also surrounded government buildings in Yangmei township Tuesday, demanding compensation for households with 'excess births' who say they had all their belongings looted from their homes by officials, who also levied excess fines for unauthorized pregnancies.

Protesters burned about a dozen vehicles, clashing with more than 2,000 riot police sent there to secure the area. Four protesters hurled petrol bombs at government offices, local residents told RFA's Cantonese service.

Riot police clash with crowds

Most people are afraid to talk now. Either that, or they've run away to Guangdong province.

"At about 2.30 p.m. about 20,000 people came and surrounded the government buildings...They burned a lot of vehicles: motorbikes, police vans, cars," one resident surnamed Li told reporter He Shan.

"There were no water cannons or tear gas. The riot police were wearing helmets, and they used those transparent riot shields and green truncheons."

Meanwhile, five people are still being held following the family planning riots of mid-May in Guangxi's Bobai county, a lawyer acting for the detainees said.

Han Yicun, a lawyer with the Beijing-based law firm Bosheng, said he was one of several Beijing-based lawyers representing some of the 28 people detained following widespread violence in Bobai county on and around May 17. They were working as volunteers, he said.

"I haven't managed to get in touch with the relatives of the detained people yet," he told RFA's Mandarin service from Guangxi. "I am in the process of setting up a legal team. It's hard to say exactly when it will come together."

Asked why he and his colleagues were working in Guangxi for nothing, Han gave a terse reply: "For justice."

Belongings confiscated

A civil rights activist based in Teng county near Wuzhou city said at least 1,300 homes had been ransacked by family planning officials to punish households with unauthorized pregnancies.

"It's been happening every day. They take all the things in their home: their belongings, their furniture, even their bedding," Mo Jufeng told RFA's Mandarin service.

"Most people are afraid to talk now. Either that or they've run away to Guangdong province," he told reporter Yan Ming.

Officials at the Bobai county family planning bureau declined to comment on whether the authorities were pursuing an official enquiry into the riots, or whether any officials would be held responsible for the unrest, which residents say was sparked by a crackdown which included forced abortions and sterilizations, confiscation of property and exorbitant fines.

Under the family planning policies—which aim to control China’s population of 1.3 billion, the world’s largest—China's urban dwellers are generally allowed to have one child, while rural families can have two if the first child is a girl.

Locals said that in recent years, violations of the policy had been dealt with by smaller fines of up to 5,000 yuan, but that officials had recently begun aggressively targetting anyone who flouted the rules.

Original reporting in Cantonese by He Shan and in Mandarin by Yan Ming. 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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