One Villager Killed in More Clashes with Police in Shantou

By Ding Xiao, Radio Free Asia
April 15, 2006 12:00 am Last Updated: April 15, 2006 12:00 am

Clashes between police and civilians are frequently occurring in Guangdong Province, China, although Guangdong Provincial Governor, Zhang Dejiang took a tough stand against civil rights activities after the Shanwei Massacre on December 6, 2005. Two conflicts developed in Shantou City and Luohu, Shenzhen on the same day, April 12. A villager was killed by police during the clash in Shantou.

Bomei Village in Chaoyang District, Shantou City had water shortage problems and the villagers had asked the government to rectify the problem for years, but the government did not do anything about it. So last year the villagers pooled their resources and built two dams by themselves to solve the irrigation problem.. Anyhow, the government was not pleased and said the dams were illegally built and ordered them to be demolished.

The villagers stood guard by the dams day and night to prevent the government pulling them down. But on the morning of April 12, Shantou City government sent hundreds of policemen to demolish one of the dams. A villager told the reporter. “Almost a thousand people, including police, security guards, and riot squads, in hundreds of cars went to the dam site.”

They first demolished the dam nearer to the village, where there were fewer villagers on guard. When the villagers heard the news thousands of them went to the area of the dam. They threw stones and burning bottles to drive the police away. The police attacked them with water cannons and tear gas bombs. A woman who lived near the dam was hit on the head by a tear gas bomb and died instantly.

A villager witnessing the scene said, “She was not at the dam. She was in her own yard. The tear bomb was thrown into the yard and it killed her. . It was not an accident. They did it on purpose.”Another villager interviewed by the reporter said, “About a dozen villagers were injured in the melee and two or three were seriously hurt.” “Do you know which hospital they are in?” the reporter asked. “I only know some are in Niutoushan Hospital in Chaoyang.” “Did the villagers fight back?” “Yes. But by no means could they have won. How could they fight back? They had no weapons; they only fought with stones”.

The reporter called Niutoushan Hospital that night but there was no answer..

The policemen did not try to force themselves into the other dam Site, but they fought for a long time. By the evening the police and government officials left the village. The villagers said that in this clash, many levels of governments sent police there. A vice-director of Chaoyang District was also on the scene.

A villager said one person was arrested in the clash. The reporter called the police office but no one answered the phone.

A lot of police went to demolish the dams on April 11, but withdrew because villagers formed a defensive line. So the armed police left but returned the next day. After the, confrontation the villagers were very emotional. They declared that they would use all the man-power they can get to protect the dam. More villagers came and spontaneously guarded the dam at night. “We are not afraid of the government now. They want to forcefully destroy the basic construction of village life. We are reluctant to submit. Now there are about a thousand people guarding the dam at night.” a villager said.

Another villager suspected the event was initiated by exploitation. He said, “Our dams are not dangerous for the country. Shantou City mayor ordered officers to prevent us from appealing in Beijing. He was bribed.”

On the same day, a village on the other side of the river of Hong Kong in Shenzhen had a confrontation with hundreds of villagers and police for a passage near a fence. An eye witness confirmed the incident to the reporter, but a local government official said nothing had happened, everything was peaceful. He emphasized, “Everything is peaceful. It is peaceful. It is really peaceful, very peaceful.”