A conflict involving over a thousand villagers took place in a village in southern China's Shanwei City, Guangdong province recently. Villagers accused local policemen of working with and enabling criminal gangs to thrive in the area.
Information regarding the conflict was sent to The Epoch Times by participants in the protests, including video and photographs; such information was also posted elsewhere on the Internet.
Online accounts and telephone interviews indicate that the villagers rioted in an attempt to confront a local criminal gang's monopoly over the beverage wholesale industry at the village's night market. Business had been bad recently in the fishing village, and residents had refused to buy from the gang. On July 17, gang members began exacting revenge in the name of "collecting fees."
According to villagers who spoke with The Epoch Times, at around midnight on July 18, over 100 gang members came from their gathering place at the Guanyemiao village, arriving at the Shanwei fishing village with knives. They simply began stabbing locals, according to interviews; one elderly person received a bad cut to the leg, one young man's hand was cut off. The next day more than 20 more gang members came to the village in a bus. The villagers intercepted them and caught three, while others ran to a nearby hotel and began a standoff.
The next incident took place in the early hours of July 22. Two policemen and seven people from Guanyemiao village came to the Shanwei fishing village in a police car. Villagers were furious, surrounding the cars and finding a gun and over 100 knives in the back of one of them. They blocked two policemen and one man from the Guanyemiao village. The rest ran away. About one hour later, two more vehicles drove into the village and were also surrounded by villagers.
Ms. Zhong from the village told The Epoch Times, "the head of the Public Security Bureau said that he did not send the policemen to the village. The two policemen came here on their own. In the past, when the gang bullied us, we did not resist. Now they have done too much. They stabbed people and shot at people. The many policemen on site did not stop them."
After the villagers reported the case to the police, the police sent over 20 police cars and anti-riot vehicles and hundreds of policemen. The gang members were holed-up in a hotel, shooting at the villagers with apparently home-made guns. Two villagers were injured, according to interviews, including one man who was shot in the neck with a steel ball. The wound was only superficial, and photos show a red welt on the neck with a small ball bearing in hand. Villagers say that police did nothing to quell the disturbance or arrest gang members.
"We asked the police to investigate the case, but they were very passive about it. On the surface it seems that they were doing something, but we do not know what they do behind the scenes," said one young female villager. She referred to an incident where the police did a 'search' for the criminals that appeared to be more for the sake of mollifying the villagers. "They must be colluding with each other," she said angrily.
About one thousand fishermen live in the village. They fish during the day and at night do business and relax at the evening market on Haibian street. At present, fishermen are said to be guarding the village entrance almost 24 hours a day, and do not go fishing for fear of reprisals to their family members.
"Now the fishermen are all united and prepared to fight with the gang to the end," one young villager said.
Officials in Shanwei are known for their readiness to use harsh techniques in dealing with public protest. In 2005, police from Dongzhou village shot and killed dozens of protesting villagers, including shooting to death the injured at close range.
Read the original Chinese article.