Guangdong Farmers Clash with Police, Take Official Hostage


2004-08-27
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HONG KONG-Farmers in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong have staged several days of protest activities against what they say is official corruption surrounding the sale of land in their village.

Around 300 residents of Sanshan village near Panyu city stormed their local Party committee offices and took the Party secretary hostage, after a sit-in with banners outside the building failed to produce the result they wanted. They said they wanted a clear explanation of the transfer of their farmland to a large industrial company.

"They even brought in helicopters. They went that far in order to disperse the villagers," one local resident told RFA's Mandarin service.

"Yesterday the special riot police, probably around 100 people, came to the village and arrested some people. There are still three people who haven't returned yet. As soon as they got there they pushed people to the ground and snapped handcuffs on them."

A local police officer confirmed the clashes, but said all those detained had now been released.

Residents said the village was now under a news blackout, and that farmers were planning a mass meeting to discuss their grievances further.

"They've blocked off the roads. They won't let anyone in. If the media tries to come in they chase them away. They won't let any reporters in," a local resident said. "Most times, if the villagers have a problem that they want to bring up with the officials, they just find out who is in charge and arrest them. They do this if there is unrest among the villagers," the resident said.

The requisition of land by local governments and their crony development companies is a frequent cause for complaint in China, as local residents are evicted from their homes with little ceremony and scant compensation so local governments can cash in on skyrocketing property values.

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