At 2:00 a.m. on July 31, over 600 riot police with 50 vehicles surrounded Shijiahe Village in the middle of the night. As organizers of a protest were being arrested, police were blocked off by villagers. The police, in return, opened fire on the unarmed villagers, pouring tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd. In the ensuing chaos, over 30 villagers were hit, and among them, six received serious injuries.
According to a report by Apple Daily, some villagers disclosed that Liu Guozhao, secretary of Shijiahe Village in northern Zhengzhou City, took land villagers used for farming and sold it to real estate companies. The average size of villagers’ lands for farming dropped about 10 percent. On June 20, a large amount of land was sold, and the reduction in size went from 10 to 40 percent. One villager said, “We never received a penny from these land sales, and our lives are dependant on our land!”
The farmers couldn’t take it any longer. On June 29, about 400 to 500 villagers went to their regional government to protest. On their way back there was a car accident resulting in one death and six injuries. After the car accident, Zhengzhou City sent personnel to Shijiahe Village to investigate the matter, and promised to release their findings on July 31. However, no findings were ever released.
On the early morning of July 31, about 600 riot police and 50 vehicles blocked all roads to Shijiahe Village. They then proceeded to arrest the organizers of the protesting villagers.
Upon receiving word that protestors were being arrested, thousands of villagers formed a human wall in an effort to protect the protestors. Around 3:30 a.m., police began their assault on the villagers with rubber bullets and tear gas, creating a scene of chaos, that resulted in 30 villagers getting hit, and six being seriously injured and rushed to the emergency room.
An injured villager (Network Friends)
A woman interviewed by the Apple Daily said that around 3:00 a.m., police suddenly began firing tear gas into the crowd, creating a hazy, eye-irritating mess. As the villagers panicked, she heard the police open fire, and began to run to the back. However, she received three hits around the back of her hips and two in her leg, which made her bleed profusely.
According to a report, in February of this year, it was discovered that citizen’s compensation for the confiscation of their lands was short by 10 billion yuan (US$1.2 billion). Henan Province, where Shijiahe Village is located, seems to be especially notorious for these problems. Compensation for citizen’s lands was short by over one billion yuan (US$120.8 million) there. Of that debt, 700 million (US$84.6 million) has been paid, with 300 million (US$36.2 million) still unpaid. Records indicate that in the first half of this year alone there have been more complaints regarding this issue than the 18,000 complaints the government received in 2003.