Shanghai police are bracing for massive protests against water pollution after locals circulated messages via the Internet calling for a demonstrations on Aug. 19.
They have detained activists, monitored discussion online, and set up surveillance against suspected protest organizers, according to interviews and accounts online.
The protesters are incensed by what they believe is the pollution of the Qingcaosha Reservoir near Shanghai. “Pollution from the paper mill has adversely affected Shanghai,” reads a note that was circulated around the Internet that called for protests in Shanghai and in Dalian.
“Citizens are preparing to hold a massive walk to demonstrate against pollution,” the message said. “To avoid a potential confrontation, we ask citizens to maintain a peaceful, rational, and nonviolent demonstration in order to achieve our goal.”
In late July, protesters in Qidong City, located near Shanghai, broke through a police blockade and raided a government building before taking the mayor and stripping off his shirt. The demonstrators amassed against the planned building of a pipeline that would have moved the pollution from a Japanese paper factory.
Later concerns emerged that even without the pipeline, the waste runoff, which is toxic, would have seeped into the Yangtze River and contaminated the Qingcaosha water supply.
Police suspected that Shanghai-based pro-democracy activists Wang Jianhua, who was jailed for two years for taking part in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, and Yang Qinheng, another activist, were key organizers. Last week, police investigated them and seized their computers, Wang told The Epoch Times.
Yang, who served two years in prison in 1983, said that he had been interrogated last week by police after being taken into custody. Yang and Wang would not explain their precise role in organizing the protests.
A Shanghai-based human rights activist who called himself only Mr. Wu said that police have panicked over the message, which was spread through the Internet and text messages. The police are probably afraid that pro-democracy activists and petitioners will join in the protest and use it to spread their message—beyond the mere issue of the environment.
Shanghai has been constructing a reservoir in Qingcaosha at the mouth of the Yangtze River since 2007 to help replace the water supply in the polluted Huangpu River located near Shanghai. Now with Qingcaosha’s water source being allegedly threatened by pollution from the paper mill, residents are concerned.
Yang said the upcoming protest has been organized at the grass-roots level, and that it is of concern to many in Shanghai.
Mr. Wu said the police shouldn’t interfere with the demonstrations. In the interests of cleaner water, he even urged them to take part.
Read the original Chinese article.
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