Villagers Clash with Police over Land Dispute

January 15, 2010 11:17 pm Last Updated: January 16, 2010 4:03 am

Villagers in southern China protest against alleged land grab. The banner reads:'Give us back our legal rights.'  (
Villagers in southern China protest against alleged land grab. The banner reads:'Give us back our legal rights.' (
Police blocked the main roads. (
Police blocked the main roads. (
Over 2,000 police and other security forces clashed with protesting villagers in suburban Foshan City of southern China’s Guangdong Province on Jan. 7. The clash lasted for three hours before the protesters were dispersed. More than 10 were injured and hospitalized, and 48 were arrested.

The same day, over 200 residents of Wanshi Village gathered early in the morning to stop the execution of a court order to claim 33 acres of farmland in the village. Authorities had sold the land to a company in Aug. 2009 without seeking villagers’ consent or offering them compensation. Villagers have been opposing the construction project planned on this land.

Police blocked the main roads in the area and attacked the crowd with water cannons and tear gas. A local resident, named Wan, said the police set up an ambush around the land and fired water cannons at any villagers who showed up.

“They beat us up. They even beat a 3-year-old child until his nose bled,” said Wan. “They shot water mixed with chili at senior citizens. We had no choice but to fight back. Then they fired the tear gas.”

The blockade was removed at approximately 1:00 p.m. Twelve senior villagers were released the same evening, while the other 36 villagers were detained in unidentified facilities.

Chen, a local business owner, complained about the biased media reports on the clash. “They [the reporters] only shot scenes of villagers throwing rocks but ignored the violent assaults of the police.” He said that the media used photos of wooden clubs and kitchen knives that the villagers used for cooking as evidence against them.

Land Expropriation Without Compensation

Since the land was sold, the 950-plus villagers received no compensation. They appealed to higher authorities, presenting a land ownership certificate issued in 1953. In Dec. 2009, the authorities announced that the certificate of ownership was invalid due to “a change in land policies,” and the land thus belonged to the government.

The decision left the village with only about 16 acres of farmland, leaving each resident a little over one square foot of land.

Read the original Chinese article