Authorities Accuse Suzhou Justice Seekers of Political Motives

By Rona Rui, Epoch Times
July 23, 2010 Updated: July 23, 2010

Since reporting that tens of thousands were in a standoff with police over illegal land grabs by government officials on July 17 in eastern China’s Jiangsu Province, The Epoch Times has learned that the protest is continuing. Currently, the local regime is trying to defame the protesters as politically motivated and controlled by “overseas malicious forces.”

Angry local residents took over a local government building on July 14, and since then the Tong’an township government of Gaoxin district has been paralyzed, with no government personnel reporting to work.

Nightly Protests Planned

Almost every night since July 17, thousands of Tong’an residents have gathered on National Highway 312 to protest against the presence of riot and military police. Though there have been some conflicts, the residents intend to wear down the police force over time, with means such as minimizing the potential for conflict by retreating when the police attack. These protesters have said that they will continue until the government responds to their complaint.

Influenced by this, protests also have broken out in nearby towns on various scales from over one thousand people involved to over ten thousand. In response, the police are trying to defame all such local residents as participating in “political activities manipulated by overseas malicious forces”.

Government Promises Answers, Residents Skeptical

Dongzhu town is located about five kilometers southwest of Tong’an town, and one local Dongzhu resident said that, in his neighborhood, no one dares to walk on the street since July 24, due to a warning notice issued on July 17; furthermore, “The notice issued on July 23 has much harsher words.” Previously, several hundred villagers had also been gathering on Zingsan Bridge of Big Lake Road on a daily basis, but bus service from and to there has been curtailed.

The resident continued: “Recently, the government posted a notice that they will give people an answer before July 25, and a government team visiting door-to-door also promised the same thing, but I have not seen anything yet.” This resident added that there are still several residents who were arrested and have not been released yet.

Hushuguan town is located about five km. east of Tong’an and people there started a protest on July 21. One female local resident told how, despite a warning from the police on July 22, many people still gathered and there was a standoff with armed police in front of the township’s government building.

It is said that both the town governor and party chief in Tong’an where the protest initially broke out have been removed from their post, but local villagers do not give much credit to such a decision because it is common for cadres to be removed from a post in one place to take up another similar position elsewhere.

Residents Suffer After Evictions

A local resident of Dongzhu says that there are many victims of illegal land grabs: “About four to five thousand families in Dongzhu, and six to seven thousand families in Tong’an.”

He explained that farmers whose lands were expropriated have lost their means of survival. The elderly farmers, who used to receive around 200 yuan (approximately US$24) a month, now receive around 400 yuan. The young farmers of 18 years and older would receive a onetime buyout payment of 10,000 dollars (approximately US$1,208). They have to find jobs elsewhere and feed themselves on hourly wages. Those who are younger than 18 years old would receive a onetime buyout amount of US$5,000. Those who did not have an outside job before the illegal eviction are now all facing a difficult economic situation.

Read the original Chinese article.