CHINA – For over a decade, manganese (Mn) mining and industry have caused severe pollution to Heishui River in Xialei Town, Guangxi Province. Recently the CITIC Group spent 150 million yuan (~US$19 million) to build a Mn electrolysis factory about 333 ft away from Xialei Town. The residents from Xialei Town strongly objected and went on a protest. On June 28, the CITIC Group and the local government mobilized almost a thousand armed police from nearby counties. Eight were arrested and a dozen injured by electric batons.
The CITIC Dameng Mining Industries Ltd. built the Mn electrolysis factory upstream of the Heishui River. There is a water company, a school and residential district in the vicinity. The poisonous waste water from the factory will contaminate the residents' water once released to the Heishui River. On June 27, residents from Xialei Town went to the construction site and sat in front of the gate to stop the construction of the factory.
1000 Police Mobilized from Five Towns in Chongzuo City
At 4 a.m. on June 28, the local police arrested two people. One named Mo Jinlin and other was unidentified. Over 1,000 residents gathered in front of the town hall after learning about the arrest. They asked the mayor of the town to order the public safety bureau to release those arrested.
By noon, the public safety bureau sent in about seven large vehicles and over a hundred cars carrying over a thousand riot police, civil police, and policemen. It is known that these police came from five nearby towns in Chongzuo City.
According to a local resident Mr. Nong, the police had truncheons and shields. As soon as they arrived, they started to beat the residents and shocked them with electric batons. Women, children, and the elderly were not spared. Dozens were injured and six arrested. They are currently jailed in the Daxin County Detention Center.
Mo Zhenmin was the most seriously injured during this incident. The scene was chaotic and the police hit whoever came across. An old man laid on the ground, wounded and Mo, in order to save that man, was hit by a police and passed out immediately. Mo was sent to the People's hospital in Daxin County. Two police watched Mo while he was hospitalized for six days. Mo is now recovering at home.
Amongst the six arrested, one of them was Mo's elder brother Mo Zhensheng and one was a village secretary and supervisor of the village commission with last name Huang. Huang was removed from his position after the incident.
Silent, Seated Residents Charged with Besieging the Government
Mo's wife, Ms. Ma, told the reporter, “We just wanted to reason with the officials and to try and stop the CITIC Group from building the factory. The police accused the residents of besieging the government. In fact, those residents were not armed. They were just sitting there.”
Ma said: “Among the armed police sent to quell the protest on that day, some of them were not police officials. They were hired by the CITIC Group for 20 yuan (US$2.5) a day to beat the residents. If anything happened, the official policemen can then avoid responsibility.” She said, “In this incident, those who came out to speak are put on a blacklist. The public safety bureau is still investigating. Many people are afraid and can't go home now.”
A resident Mr. Huang said: “The two who were arrested first have been released. Six were arrested later. Two of them were husband and wife. They saw a man fell on the ground and helped him up and ended up being arrested. They have been released too. The remaining four are still under criminal detention.”
Mining Causes Serious Water Pollution in Xialei Town
Mr. Nong, a resident, said that since Guangxi Province was opened for economic reform, numerous factories had moved in. However, the government's pollution prevention measures didn't catch up and for the past decade, the residents have been drinking polluted water from Heishui River. Many people have been made ill and died from liver related diseases. The death rate is quite high.
The only water resource in Xialei Town is the Heishui River. This river is polluted by the mining, and the air is severely contaminated too.
Mr. Huang, a resident said: “How are we going to survive once the sulfuric acid factory (CITIC Mining) moved in? The rich and powerful don't care about our safety and wants to set up a hazardous factory here. This corrupted government doesn't care about public opinion and would agree to build a factory if it could benefit from it. What the government did was against the law.”
The reporter interviewed Mr. Zhao an employee of the Daxin Mining Co owned by CITIC Group. Zhao said, “The residents protested because they live here. As for whether the construction will continue, upper level officials have yet to decide. ”
It is known that the construction is still ongoing and no one from the government is taking care of the medical expenses of the injured residents.
Residents Hope for International Aid to Overcome Citic Group Influence
The China CITIC Group was formerly known as the China International Trust and Investment Corporation. It was approved and promoted by Deng Xiaoping, a former Chinese leader, and founded by Rong Yiren, former Chinese Vice President. CITIC Dameng Mining Ltd. is a Chinese-foreign joint venture between CITIC Resources Holdings Ltd., a listed company in Hong Kong and GuangXi Dameng Manganese Ltd. It was established in Aug 2005 in Chongzuo City.
Mr. Nong, a resident, said: “Some companies, in order to reduce cost, didn't take environmental protection measures and caused irreversible damages to the local ecology. Also, some local government officials, in order to obtain political gains, focus only on economic results and turned a deaf ear to industrial pollution. Some government officials even volunteered to protect industries that cause environmental pollution.”
Residents from Xialei Town hope the international community can give them a helping hand so as to enable them to continue living there.