In April 2013, residents of Dayanghe village in Shenbei district of the northeastern city of Shenyang cast their votes for their village leader. Guo Peili, one of the candidates, spoke to RFA's Mandarin Service about her suspicions of foul play after local officials snatched away the ballot boxes to a private room during vote-counting, and her treatment by the authorities when she tried to lodge a complaint:
The disciplinary inspection committee came from our district, Shenbei, to find out what went on, about a month ago. The election was more than a year ago. [I put my name down as a candidate] for the chairman of the village committee. There were three candidates. Whoever got the most votes would get the job.
But the whole election was fake. Nobody could get elected, not me, not anyone. Sure, all the villagers got to vote, but when they were done, they took the ballot boxes into the village committee office and shut the door. They didn't bring them back again until about half an hour later, and only then did they start counting the votes. Then they told us that none of the candidates had gained enough votes to win.
There was an election committee, but that was fake too. The people on it were all on the existing village committee, or their relatives. And they were the candidates as well. It was totally illegal from the start. Basically, they were saying that they didn't need an election; they just reinstated themselves. They told that to voters before the election.
There's no democracy in China. It's not like America. They didn't give the voters the chance to see the list of candidates [nor to ask them questions]. That might be the law as made by central government, but when you get down to the local level, it's a different story.
'They beat me up'
[They were doing it] for their own interests. For the land. They want to take all the land away from the local farmers. They transfer it to other people.
I went to complain about this in Shenyang. I held up a placard outside the gates of the city government for eight days, but no one [paid attention]. Then I started putting out tweets on Weibo about it. They beat me up outside the village committee offices, and destroyed the crops I'd just planted. The village committee chairman, who is also the [ruling Chinese Communist] Party secretary [beat me]. I dialed the police, and it was transferred to the local police station. They sent me to get medical attention. I had injuries to my chest and arms. They weren't punished, but the police station never took the case. They weren't sending me for evidence; it was just to get treatment. I had to pay for it. The police were supposed to visit me in hospital, but they never did.
Then they came to my house four days later and destroyed the freshly planted corn across about 10 mu (1.5 acres). An eyewitness saw them [using a tractor], and they told me what they did. I got there too late, and they were already gone. The police did nothing, and didn't take the case.
Reported by Han Dongfang for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated by Luisetta Mudie.