Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mass Riot by Wukan Villagers Against Authorities

This is a big news crisis, which is currently happened in Wukan, China. Unfortunately, all the media (television, newspapers, internet and radio) in China are being censored from reporting this big issue. The media in China is controlled by the government. So far, only foreign news agencies such as the BBC World News and Al Jazeera English are reporting this massive riot in Wukan, China.

On 10 December 2011, with over 8,000 villagers at Wukan Mass Protest demanded the release of villagers who had been arrested. The Wukan villagers held banners with the wording "Down with corrupt officials," "Return my farm lands", intercepting roads to protest, asking for the immediate release
of arrested village representatives, and requested for a thorough investigation into corrupt officials. 
(Source: China Forbidden News)

Chinese village besieged after protests
Police seal off roads and food supplies to village in southern province after rallies against government land seizures.
Last Modified: 15 Dec 2011 05:19   Source: Al Jazeera English
Footage of protests showed villagers shouting: "Down with corrupt officials" [YouTube]

A standoff between villagers and police is continuing in southern China, where police have sealed
off the village of Wukan in an attempt to quell an uprising, witnesses say.
Villagers have taken control of the town after staging protests over government land seizures and
the death of a village leader in police custody last week.
In response, authorities have cut off food supplies to the village of about 20,000 people in Guangdong province.
A journalist in the village told Al Jazeera that Wednesday was the fourth straight day of the siege,
with no signs that the villagers would budge.
"Police tried to retake the village on Sunday with a thousand armed police firing teargas and water
cannons at villagers," Malcolm Moore of the British Daily Telegraph newspaper said.
"But villagers stood firm and police fell back to form a cordon around the village, now basically
choking off all supplies of food and water, waiting for the village to surrender.
"There are no police or government officials left in the village. All of them have been driven out
by angry villagers."
Moore said he was told by locals that they had about 10 days of food supplies left and had no
intention of giving up their resistance.

Violent protests
Tensions rose in September when protests by hundreds of villagers over a land dispute turned violent,
with residents smashing buildings, overturning vehicles and clashing with police.
Residents complained that their farmland was sold by local officials to developers to build factories
without their consent.
On Sunday, Xue Jinbo, a man accused of participating in the September land protest, died in
police custody, further angering residents, who suspected he was beaten.
Chinese media reported that local police and provincial authorities said Xue died of cardiac failure.
The local seaport has been blocked, and residents said they were prevented from fishing.
Villager Qiu Yankun said even children who would normally have gone to school in a nearby town
were staying at home because the school buses were not allowed to enter the village.
Amateur video posted online on Monday showed hundreds of villagers gathered for a protest, shouting "Down with corrupt officials" and "Give us back our land".
Land disputes have grown apace, becoming one of the leading causes of the tens of thousands of
large-scale protests that hit China every year.
Around Wukan village and in much of the rest of Guangdong province, conflicts have been intense
because the area is among China's most economically developed, pushing up land prices.


Wukan unrest: Why do Chinese farmers riot?

15 December 2011 Last updated at 06:05 ET 

Undated handout picture taken by a villager shows Wukan residents carrying a banner saying "democratic appeal can hardly be illegal rally"  
Images supplied by villagers show large rallies in Wukan

The protest that has erupted in a village in China's Guangdong province has grabbed headlines around the world, but the issues at the heart of the dispute are alarmingly commonplace.
Every year, China is plagued by tens of thousands of "mass incidents" - a catch-all phrase that the government uses to describe riots, protests and strikes.
Many are about land rights. Villagers often accuse local officials of taking their land without offering proper compensation.
But corruption in local government - an issue China's top leaders readily admit to - is only one part of the problem.
China's property laws also seem to create conflict because they largely deprive farmers of the right to control the land they work.
And if there are disagreements, they can easily result in angry demonstrations, organised by villagers who often feel they have no other option.
The stand-off between local people and the authorities in the village of Wukan over land rights is a common dispute.
Some believe the central problem is that there is no private land ownership in China - it is all, in effect, owned by the government.
Farmers are simply allocated land for a set period of time.
Eva Pils, an associate professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said this puts too much power in the hands of local governments.
"This can lead to corruption and abuse of power," said Ms Pils, who has studied the issue.
Revenue stream One problem is the level of compensation given to farmers for expropriated land, which is based on the amount of money a farmer can earn from it - not on the higher value local officials get when they sell it.
Ms Pils said some Chinese researchers have estimated that villagers can get as little as 5% of the value of the land in compensation.

Residents sit next to a banner outside the city government building during a protest in Lufeng on 21 November  
Farmers often feel they have no choice but to protest about their grievances
This seems an obvious source of discontent among villagers.
But persuading local governments not to sell off farmland is tricky, partly because they get so much of their income from it.
Economists estimate land sales account for up to a third of local government revenue.
Disputes rife Some local authorities, such as in the city of Chengdu, have begun programmes that give farmers more legal rights over farmland.
This allows them to benefit if their land is earmarked for development.
China's land ministry believes this is a key part of protecting farmers' rights.
"The lack of legal proof on rural land ownership has left farmers' interests poorly protected," said an article on this issue published by China's state-run news agency Xinhua.
The ministry uncovered 37,000 cases of illegal land use in China in the first nine months of this year, according to Xinhua.
But why do so many land disputes result in conflict with the authorities?
The answer to that question may lie in China's determination to maintain social stability by cracking down on anyone who could undermine it.
The Communist Party believes this is an essential tool in maintaining power.
Rigid stability Yu Jianrong, one of China's leading rural researchers, said that in many cases this means "normal expressions of public will are branded as illegal behaviour".
Farmers who complain about land grabs often find no sympathy from the local authorities, the courts or the police - and sometimes are themselves accused of stirring up trouble.
"Rigid stability is about defining absolute social calm as the objective of governance," wrote Mr Yu in an article carried by the China Media Project, a Hong-Kong-based centre that monitors the media in China.
"[The authorities see] each and every act of resistance as disorder and chaos, all to be struck down and suppressed through whatever means possible."
In these circumstances it is not hard to see how minor disputes over land can quickly spiral out of control.
It is difficult to calculate exactly how many "mass incidents" occur in China every year because the government is reluctant to release figures.
A report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences released this year quoted figures of up to 60,000 a year, but it only referred to data for the decade between 1993 and 2003.
Other Chinese academics suggest there could have been up to 180,000 mass incidents last year.
Whatever the figures, the fact that the government is coy about releasing them suggests they are embarrassingly high.


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