Riots in the southern China province of Guangdong have left dozens injured after police attempted to break up a fight between possibly thousands of migrant workers and locals, according to a rights organization. There were reports that at least three were killed by police.
The Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy organization said that “thousands” of migrants, mainly from China’s southwestern Sichuan Province, took part in the clashes in Shaxi town.
The incident started June 25 when a 13-year-old Sichuan migrant boy became involved in a conflict with some local children, with some accounts stating that he had demanded “protection money” from them, according to sources in China. The town’s local security committee then sent people to deal with the boy, and they reportedly tied him up, covered his head with a bag, and beat him severely.
The boy’s parents then confronted the local security committee over the matter, and the issue soon escalated as thousands more migrants, most of whom were from Sichuan, gathered around the security committee center. Several hundred police were subsequently deployed to disperse the crowds.
Residents told the Center there are still large numbers of police and paramilitary police swarming Shaxi as of Tuesday.
Many locals said that the police were mainly to blame for the injuries.
“There were several thousand people present yesterday night. Many people threw bricks [at the police], and the armed police beat them, leaving hundreds injured and more than fifty people were arrested. My head was injured [in the clash] too, and I ended up in hospital,” a Sichuan migrant worker told The Epoch Times.
A local, named Chen, told The Epoch Times that three police vehicles were flipped over, and “old and young” people were beaten. Chen said that many people’s “heads were injured and bleeding,” with some having their noses broken after suffering beatings from the police.
Other residents said on Tuesday that the situation has only grown worse since Monday night.
The dissident Molihua website reported that police killed three migrant workers from Sichuan and Hunan provinces. On Monday night, migrants threw bricks, bottles, rocks, and other objects at police officers.
Police confirmed with the Global Times that riots indeed took place in Shaxi town, saying that the gathering of people lasted from Monday afternoon to night time.
Video footage uploaded on YouTube shows what appears to be crowds of people being chased by police on Monday night.
Another video posted Tuesday shows a huge formation of riot police in Shaxi while people watched.
Chinese Internet users expressed their surprise that the words Guangdong, Zhongshan, and Shaxi on popular websites, including Weibo, were not censored by monitors. Shaxi town is located in the Zhongshan region of Guangdong.
Numerous Chinese migrants from all over the country have moved to Guangdong, which lies in close proximity to Hong Kong, but many workers have complained they are treated unfairly. More than 7,000 workers last year went on strike at a factory in Guangdong that makes Adidas, New Balance, and Nike shoes.
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