Chinese Police Crack Down on Protestors in Shandong

By Li Jianjun, Radio Free Asia
November 16, 2006 Updated: November 16, 2006

On November 5, 2006, armed policemen injured 37 villagers during a violent crackdown on nearly 1,000 unarmed protesters who gathered around the government office of Zhangzhuang Village, Jinan City, Shandong Province on China's northern coastline. The protest broke out after the government arrested two village representatives.

The conflicts between the villagers and the local government are rooted in the unsatisfactory compensation the local government had, and had not, provided for the expropriated land of the village. The villagers protested that the houses the government built as their new homes were jerry-rigged and in danger of collapse.

What is more, the government failed to keep its promise and pay for the villagers' medical expenses resulting from an earlier clash between the police and the villagers in August when the government tried to claim the land. The villagers have been petitioning for their legal rights since then.

According to one villager, Mr. Zhang, on November 4 the police arrested two village representatives on charges of “disturbing public order.” The next day about 1,000 villagers surrounded the government office, detained two officials, and demanded the authorities release the two village representatives.

Later on November 5, hundreds of fully armed police and many police dogs arrived in a dozen armored vehicles. They violently dispersed the villagers and secured the two officials. During the clash 37 villagers were injured and seven arrested. Mr. Zhang said that the police were still searching for the village representatives.

Zhang said the villagers were not allowed to visit the injured people. The police were also monitoring and blockading the village's communications with the outside world. Villagers do not dare to use their home phones, so it is difficult for them to spread the news and ask for help.

The injured villagers were sent for treatment to the No. 106 Hospital of the People's Liberation Army in Jinan City. One hospital staff said some of the patients may have been transferred to other hospitals, but she would not name the hospitals. The hospital refused to comment on the patients' health conditions.

The local police office refused to give any comments, claiming that they did not know the details of the incident.

In the past few years, discrepancies on compensations for land acquisition have caused many massive police-civilian clashes in China, including the recent clashes in Sanzhou Village of Shunde District and Dongzhou Township of Shanwei City in Guangdong Province which were widely reported in overseas media. It has happened several times in previous cases that angry villagers detained officials to force the authorities to justly solve their problems.