China Steps Up Patriotic Education As Dongzhou Mourns Its Dead


2006.04.05
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December 2005. Dongzhou township residents wearing mourning white, kneel before armed police to beg for news or bodies of missing loved ones. Photo: The Epoch Times

HONG KONG—Authorities in the southern Chinese township of Dongzhou have stepped up a campaign of ‘patriotic education’ in local schools as villagers carry out traditional memorial rites to honor those killed in bloody clashes Dec. 6.

Around 2,000 villagers visited the scene of the shootings by armed riot police Monday, with the relatives of those killed burning incense at the scene and kneeling on the ground in expression of grief, an eyewitness said.

"There were people holding burning incense sticks, and kneeling on the ground crying in front of local officials. There were a lot of villagers kneeling down like that,” one Dongzhou township resident told RFA’s Mandarin service.

Several police vehicles were deployed to the scene, where villagers also chanted slogans calling for the release of fellow protesters still detained by the authorities.

Fourth month after deaths

According to China’s rural lunar calendar, the dead must be commemorated on the fourth lunar month after their death.

Local officials, including a deputy mayor of nearby Shanwei city and an official from the Honghaiwan Development Zone, went to the scene. But they weren’t there to mourn with the villagers, or to offer any apology to the relatives.

“All of our local officials were told to watch out for journalists. Why they were so afraid of journalists?"

“They were yelling at the villagers and sealed off the whole area,” one woman said. “Everyone was very angry."

There were people holding burning incense sticks, and kneeling on the ground crying in front of local officials. There were a lot of villagers kneeling down like that.

“A lot of police were mobilized…perhaps several dozen, around the crossroads,” a second male villager said. “There were traffic police, public security officers, and border control officers.”

“An order came down that all the kids in high school and junior school had to go out on the streets to shout slogans of government propaganda,” he said.

Schools ordered to march

Local schoolchildren reported an increased emphasis on ‘patriotic education’ in the days around the memorial ceremony.

“We have had to study Hu Jintao’s patriotic campaigns,” one high-school student told RFA reporter Ding Xiao. “And they wanted all of the students to go on a demonstration to shout official slogans.”

“I think it probably has something to do with [the shooting incident]. Most of the students weren’t planning to go anyway,” she said.

The clashes came after several weeks of mounting tension in Dongzhou township and the nearby Honghaiwan Development Zone.

Villagers rejected government plans tabled in late October to pay out 600,000 yuan (U.S. $74,000) a year in compensation for land taken up by a new power plant.

China’s official Xinhua news agency has admitted that three people had died and that eight were injured during the violence, shot by police “in alarm.”

It said the villagers had attacked first with knives and home-made explosives, blaming the clashes on “over 170 armed villagers led by instigators Huang Xijun, Lin Hanru and Huang Xirang.”

Those three men remain in detention. The police officer in charge at the time of the incident was arrested earlier this year, but official media have kept coverage of the incident to the barest minimum, referring to the protests as ‘a serious law-breaking incident’.

Original reporting in Mandarin by Ding Xiao. RFA Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.

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