3,000 Guangdong Villagers Protest Illegal Land Take

November 12, 2007 12:00 am Last Updated: November 12, 2007 12:00 am

On November 9, 2007, villagers broke out into another large-scale protest to protect their lands in the village of Longwan, in the city of Chaozhou in the Guangdong Province. About 3,000 villagers protested on the hill, demanding the local government compensate them for their seized land before they begin the project of constructing electrical power lines.

For a long time, Longwan villagers have unsuccessfully made appeals against the seizure of their lands and corruption of village officials. They have been violently suppressed by the local government with many bloody incidents haven taken place. Since last year, the villagers resorted to setting up camps and blocking the road near the Huafeng Gas Manufacturing Co. Ltd. in a last-ditch attempt to appeal for their rights.

The local government has disregarded the villagers' discontent and tried to erect electrical power lines many times. Each time they were met with protests from thousands of villagers. One villager named Wu, said, “Almost 4,000 people went today (to protest). For the last few days, the government has sent construction crews to the village, and went to each villager's home to work on them. However they did not give any specifics. The problem here is manipulated by the municipal government, yet the workers are sent by the county and local level governments, they have no way to resolve the issue.”

Because the workers are here, it was reported that the deputy mayor and the Municipal Party deputy secretary are having a meeting. However they are not discussing how to resolve the problem for the villagers, but how to persuade the villagers to cooperate with the government.

Another villager stated, “They are not sincere at all. They do not call a meeting with village representatives, nor do they solicit opinions from the people. The workers came only to stall the villagers. When the officials come to inspect, the villagers staged a large-scale protest to show them that we are not violating the law, we are asking the government to solve the problem.”

During the last few days, the construction crew has been digging ditches for electrical cables on the hill. The villagers are very angry. They said that this project would set up a system of cables several kilometers long, occupying over 1,000 Chinese mu (over 165 acres) of fertile farmland without following legal procedures. Now the village is devoid of usable farmland.

Currently, the Longwan village has over 100 villagers who have spontaneously staged a daily sit-in near the Huafeng Gas Manufacturing Co. Ltd. This has been going on for over nine months, but the local government still has not taken any appropriate measures to resolve the problem.

A villager said, “Every day, between 200 to 300 people participate. Villagers go there day and night to appeal for their rights. If there is news that the government will come to take down the camps, several thousand people will stand up to protect it. The villagers are quite united and angry. They know that they have no way of making a living in the future.”

It is reported that 20 billion Chinese yuan (approximately US $2.70 billion) had been invested in the Chaozhou Sanbaimen power station. It is the biggest investment in the city of Chaozhou, and a key national project. The construction route for electrical transmission of the power station occupies large areas of fertile land in the Longwan village, yet the villagers have not been given any reasonable compensation.