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China: A Guangdong Village on the Verge of a Brutal Crackdown

Since September 2011, hundreds of villagers from Wukan village in Guangdong's Lufeng city have begun demonstrating against illegal land acquisition and last week, armed police entered the village and arrested a number of protest organizers.

Yesterday, it was revealed that a leader of the protesting villagers, Xue Jinbo, was found dead in a police detention center three days after his arrest. Police claimed that he had a heart attack, but his family say Xue was tortured to death. While the villagers are outraged by the suspected murder of Xue and are prepared to carry on struggles with local authorities, many concerned netizens worry that the incident will develop into bloody repression.

According to reports from Hong Kong newspapers, the piece of collective land involved is worth more than RMB 700 million. On September 22, Hong Kong developer Chan Man Ching, along with a large number of local gangsters, forcibly entered the village and beat up the protestors. Thousands of villagers then surrounded the Lufeng county government building on November 21, and local authorities promised villagers that the dispute would be settled village representatives re-elected within 15 days. Below is a short documentary produced by China Sun TV on the Wukan villagers’ protests:

However, when the deadline arrive, instead of fulfilling its promise, the local government took action to arrest protest organizers beginning December 3. In response, the villagers placed the village Communist Party Committee office under siege on December 5. On December 10, thousands of villagers blocked the road to the village upon receiving the news that the police would take action in making widespread arrests.

Armed police surrounded the village

Xue Jinbo's photo via the Chinese Human Rights Defenders website

Twitter user @milpitas95035 reported on the situation [zh]:

广东陆丰乌坎村于今天(12月11日)凌晨四点半左右,一千多名全副武装的警察准备再次进村抓捕。村民闻讯敲响铜锣,五千多村民拿起棍棒、农具把守村口,与警察对峙。期间警察发射五十多枚催泪弹和其它弹药,上午7点左右村民被迫撤离村口,之后警察全部撒离。据说同一时间,其他镇发生了游行示威。

Around 4:30 am today (December 11) in Wukan village in Lufeng county, Guangdong province, more than a thousand armed police officers tried to enter the village and arrest villagers. Upon receiving the news, villagers alerted each other, and more than 5,000 of them then took their rods and confronted police. In the process, police fired more than 50 canisters of tear gas. The villagers were forced to retreat at around 7 am, following which the police also left. People heard that there were demonstrations in other surrounding towns.

News of Xue Jinbo's death surfaced at this time. Twitter user @fumanduo helped villagers spread the news via Twitter [zh]:

:【关注乌坎】村民消息:目前薛锦波遗体在海丰殡仪馆,村民看到薛身上多处被打到皮开肉绽,家属希望领回遗体遭到拒绝.目前村外大批警察集结,进出不便.村民正在开会,准备下午冲出乌坎,再次上#访

[Wukan Concern] Sources from the villagers: Xue Jinbo's body is now at the Hai Feng Funeral Parlor. Villagers found many scars on Xu's body and authorities have rejected Xue's family's demand to reclaim Xue's body. Now a large number of police officers are stationed outside the village and it is very difficult for the villagers to leave. Villagers are having meeting, they plan to break the police blockade and in another attempt to petition their case.

After the meeting, villagers urged friends and extended family members from Lufeng currently away from the village to come home and protect their homeland. Via @fumanduo [zh]:

乌坎人正排队等公安来抓。村民在网上发出紧急通告,呼吁所有陆丰人速回当地保卫家乡http://pic.twitter.com/BON71kH0

Wukan residents are now waiting for the police to make arrests. The villagers urge all people from Lufeng to return home to protect their family and relatives. http://pic.twitter.com/BON71kH0

Villagers also redecorated the village committee building into a funeral parlor (via @yoke1007):

The suspected murder of Xue makes Beijing reporter Liu Xiannan very pessimistic [zh] about the development of the Wukan incident:

薛锦波之死,标志着乌坎理性维权模式的失败与破产。理性与非理性,在强权面前,已皆为绝途。

The death of Xue Jinbo signifies the ultimate defeat of rational protest and defense of people's rights. Rational or not, when confronted with a dictator, there is no way out.

Foreign conspiracy theory again!

Indeed, local media reports are either downplaying the Wukan incident or interpreting it as foreign conspiracy. One bitter peasant writing on Sina Weibo exclaims [zh]:

陸丰政府先斷我們網絡再斷我們糧食。。我們做錯了什麼?要在我們烏坎村貪48億省政府你們就眼睜睜看着一万多人餓死?在外做事的人有家回不得這社會還有天理。。媒體全部听汕尾一句宣告就胡亂報導。記者請用職業道德去現場了解吧。南都,廣州日报,羊城晚报,今日一线们不要用假新闻去迷惑百姓吧

The Lufeng government has cut our Internet connections and our food supply… What have we done to deserve this? The village government has taken RMB 4.8 bln from the Wukan villagers and the provincial government just sits there and watches ten thousand people starve to death? Those who have left home for work cannot return home? What kind of society is this? The media only listens to the Shanwei government's press releases. Please come to Wukan to see for yourself. Southern Metropolis Daily, Guangzhou Daily, Yangcheng Evening News, please do not cheat people with fake news.

Twitter user @pangjiaoming is very angry that Guangdong authority has labelled the incident as foreign conspiracy [zh]:

还没起床拿IPAD看新闻,惊闻广东当局指责乌坎事件有境外势力参与。什么境外势力?不就是浩浩荡荡的民主潮流么!孙文先生之三民诉求,民主、民权、民生一个都没落实好!求求双头鹰老毛子,把中国的领土还回来,把境外势力共产党带回去!

Reading the news in bed on my iPad. So surprised to find out that Guangdong authorities claim that there was overseas intervention in the Wukan incident. What kind of overseas intervention are they talking about? Democracy is a trend! The three demands of Democracy, Rights and Livelihood made by Sun Yatsen have still not been fulfilled. Please return China back to the people and kick out the real foreign power—the Communists—out of the Chinese territory.

Writer He Sanwei from Sina Weibo points out [zh]:

就算是“境外反动势力插手”了,也不是原罪,还要看做的什么知道吗?今天的中国不是还派出部队去插手外国,还称为维和不是吗?今天的中国政府不就是境外反动势力插手建立的吗?今天的联合国人权公约和政治公约,不都是由境外反动势力发起,中国作为联合国成员国最后承认和签署的吗?郑雁雄书记你说呢?

Even if there is foreign intervention, it's not an unforivable sin. We have to look into the nature of the incident. We also send our troops overseas to intervene, and that's for peace, isn't it? Our current government is also an establishment of foreign power, isn't it? Today the United Nations’ covenants on Human and Political Rights are all initiated by foreign powers, and isn't China a member of United Nations? Shanwei Party Secretary Zhen Yanxiong, what do you have to say about this?

Political news commentator Zhu Zhiyong rightly points out [zh] that the rhetoric of “foreign intervention” is to justify a brutal crackdown:

广东陆丰群体事件公开打出反对独裁口号,为大陆群体事件历史上第一次,无疑有深刻政治背景。目前在阴谋论定调下抓捕行动正在进行中。汕尾市委书记郑雁雄特别强调,有境外势力插手。既然如此,中国公众需要真相,不得含糊其辞,是哪个国家,什么势力!怎样插手?用了什么手段?请郑雁雄书记明白交代!!

The mass incident in Lufeng has seen open demand calling for the end of dictatorship. This is the first mass incident that has put forward a political agenda. The conspiracy theory is to justify arrest actions. Shanwei City Party Secretary Zheng Yanxiong stresses that overseas power have intervened in the incident. The Chinese public should demand the truth and a clear explanation. Which country? What kind of power? How? By what means? Zheng Yanxiong, please give us an answer!

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