According to mainstream news report, around 30 peasants from Wudu（武都） district Dongjiang（東江） town paid a petition visit to the Longnan（隴南） city committee yesterday (17-18 of Nov), but it ended with police repression. There is little explanation on what had exactly happened as information has been blocked.
However, two videos have been uploaded in youtube showing the street fight between protesters and police. In the video, sound of gunfire is rather visible:
Longnan is located in southern Gansu. It is the only region in the province that situates near the Yangtze River. Before the earthquake in May, the region had a large scale city construction project and many peasants had to surrender their land. In order to build the new city government office building, most of the farmland and residential district at Dongjiang town and Hanwang town has been resumed. Some said that many people were forcefully removed by developer and some are still living in camp.
In the May 12 earthquake, there were more than 300 people injured and killed. Gansu is the second most seriously affected area in the country after Sichuan. Back in July 2008, there were rumors saying that the city committee and government planned to relocate the city administration center from Longnan to Cheng County out of geology consideration. The plan had agitated peasants who had suffered from the land acquisition and the residents in Longnan. However, the government denied the rumor very quickly via local media and the emotion cooled down. However, a week later some netizens found out that the document concerning the geology issue and city relocation had been posted on the website of the State Department. The Longnan City government did not give further response to the issue. People from Wudu and Cheng County were put in an antagonistic position and there were a lot of online verbal attacks. The peasants suffered from land acquisition and demolition also started to pay petition visit.
At 9:30am of Nov 17, more than 30 petitioners from Dongjiang town, Wudu district, Longnan City paid the petition visit to the city committee. Because of the land acquisition, people are homeless and landless, now that the city is to relocated to another district, they demand the city committee to explain the situation and whether the government have any relief plan for them. In the afternoon, more people gathered in front of the city committee. Although the city officials had arranged a meeting with the petitioners, there was no consensus. More and more people gathered outside the city committee in the evening until midnight expecting to see city leader. For some unknown reason, some people rushed into the courtyard of city committee, broke the windows and vehicles and set fire on part of the office. Such action leaded to this serious confrontation.
A secondary school youth from Wudu gave more background on this confrontation in the comment section:
The government had been preaching to the people not to believe in rumor and they had arrested 6 so-called rumor makers. Since Wang Yi became the secretary of city committee, a lot of residential buildings had been demolished, especially in Wudu Dongjiang town. It is not exaggerating to say that the whole town had been demolished and thousands of people lost their home. Wang Yi explained to the people that Dongjiang would become Longnan new city center. People believed the government and willingly moved into temporary housing. No one complained because they believed in the party's good will to improve their life. However, now that Wang Yi decided to move away and left behind so many homeless people. How can they not be angry? During the 5.12 earthquake, people wasn't panicking. In Nov 17, people were really angry, they protested in front of the city committee spontaneously. People in Wudu are very civilized, at first they just shout slogan: “no relocation”. However, later at night, some police from Cheng County pushed a number of protesters into the city committee building and beat them hard. People couldn't stand anymore, they rushed in to rescue their fellow and tried to get hold of the attackers. However, the police insiders received them with rods and stones. Then the situation became out of control. More than a hundred people had been arrested now, many were injured, some are fatal. It is more agitating that the military vehicles moving in carry a slogan “counter terrorist force”. The image of earthquake rescuing team has vanished over night.
Another comment urges people to help spreading the news:
In Nov 18, tens of protesters had been beaten to death. Information had been blocked and photos could not be released. However, this post (translator note: from another forum) has adopted the official stand – they disregarded people's emotion and much of their opinions had been blocked. Their voices could only appear in a small number of forum with very few visitors. They couldn't attract public attention. We have lost a number of fellows and we hope that their deaths deserve some respect, not to be called as “rioters”. The secretary of the city committee had done with the demolition, had done with contracting out project and business, had done with attracting capital, now he is ready to go and leave people behind. He have lost his credibility. The Gansu province committee doesn't know the truth and blocks the information. Such big incident was not even reported in Lanzhou. Where is our justice? Should our opinion and our sufferings be repressed by the bureaucrats like that? We can only depends on people to pass on the information and raise concern. Just now, the riot police are still firing tear gas to the people. The people have to resist. I wish you will understand the truth and let it known to others. Please pass on the information, thank you.
Global Voices stands out as one of the earliest and strongest examples of how media committed to building community and defending human rights can positively influence how people experience events happening beyond their own communities and national borders.
Please consider making a donation to help us continue this work.