Chinese village of Wukan turned into 'war zone'

Villagers chant slogans as they gather for the 2011 protest in Wukan village, Lufeng city, in southern China's Guangdong province. Photo / AP
Villagers chant slogans as they gather for the 2011 protest in Wukan village, Lufeng city, in southern China's Guangdong province. Photo / AP

The Chinese fishing village of Wukan has been put into lock-down as authorities seek to suppress demonstrations against land seizures.

Locals have described the village as being a "war zone. . . much worse than the Japanese invasion."

There are reports that some villagers are without food due to police blocking all entries and exits from the village.

Videos posted to social media show police in riot gear storming into the village and ripping down fences while dispersing tear gas.

The local authorities said many of the videos had been fabricated and that those who had been spreading false information would be dealt with.

Wukan carries symbolic importance due to the success of 2011 protests that broke out over land seizures and corruption. Villagers were able to expel government officials and police, and barricaded the village. The siege was resolved only after the provincial secretary of China's ruling Communist Party agreed to allow locals to elect a chief.

The winner of that election was Lin Zuluan, a former protest leader. Lin was planning to lead a new round of protests this year over more land grabs. Instead, authorities detained him and then charged him with taking bribes.

Lin's supporters say he was wrongfully charged and have staged more than 80 straight days of rallies since he was detained. Those protests continued after his sentence was announced Thursday despite official state warnings to disperse.

An official statement issued Tuesday said 13 villagers in Wukan were arrested, allegedly for inciting a mob and spreading rumors.

The statement levies several allegations at "a small number of lawless persons," including disturbing school, preventing fishermen from working and hampering shopkeepers. It says officials tried to "educate and persuade" protest leaders, but that guidance was evidently disregarded.

"In order to safeguard the interests of the masses and restore the normal order of production and local people's lives, local police decided to take action and apprehended them," the statement said.

Chinese law requires official permission be granted for all protests, a condition that is almost never met. Large-scale protests are usually met with action intended to quell dissent. In recent decades, China has allowed a small number of elections for positions below the township level, though national and provincial party officials continue to be selected internally.

State news media reported Lin was accused of taking bribes totaling 593,000 yuan (about $89,000) to "influence livelihood and economic projects" in Wukan, and he gave a televised statement admitting to the allegations.

The Chinese government often broadcasts purported confessions of people accused of corruption in an apparent attempt to win public support, but instead are condemned by human rights groups as a sham. A former attorney of Lin's told The Associated Press last week that Lin likely made the confession to protect his family.

- With AP

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf05 at 28 Sep 2016 14:54:18 Processing Time: 647ms