Villagers in the south east Chinese town of Wukan have been protesting in the streets. They have been met with police firing rubber bullets and tear gas. Villagers have been reported to be throwing stones.
Wukan is the capital of Hubei Province and has become a symbol for many of democracy in action. In 2011 residents banded together to thwart illegal land grabs and to elect their own mayor. On September 9th authorities arrested and jailed the mayor, Lin Zulian, for what many say are trumped up charges and forcible confession. He has been sentenced to three years in prison and a $30 000 fine.
In pre-dawn raids Tuesday, another 13 people were taken into custody charged with illegal assembly. In the Byzantine law enforcement in the PRC, that could mean what the authorities say it is.
The arrests set off the people of Wukan and they took to the streets. But they were overwhelmed by the well armed police.
Large teams of riot police move in formation: shields above their heads; shields to the front. They are met with a hail of bricks and retreat. BBC
Wukan has been sealed off from people entering or leaving and loudspeakers are exhorting those named as suspects in helping to organize protests to give themselves up.
The state owned Global Times China, has reported on the incident stating that all of the illegally seized land has been returned. The 572hectares that the villagers have been demanding be returned has clear ownership papers.
The hopes for many in the PRC for a softening of the central government’s control have been dashed again. One of the problems facing the central government is maintaining control over the population. Democracy can be an unruly form of government. The blossoming of democracy in the late 80s was brutally crushed with many killed and imprisoned. Chinese people do not refer to that incident as the Tiannamen Square massacre but as “Six Four Nine”. In 1990 when I first visited that country Tiannamen Square was not to be talked about and 6-4-9 was whispered.
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Global Times China
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