An ongoing struggle between residents and a local ceramic factory over pollution has erupted in protesting, arrests, and riot police presence. When a dozen resident activists of Paibian Village, Jiedong County, Guangdong Province were arrested the morning of Oct. 22, thousands went to the local regime officials, demanding their release.
An Epoch Times reporter interviewed villagers at the scene. According to a villager surnamed Lu, there were no legal procedures, and no one knew where the arrested villagers were taken. He said there were more than 2,000 people who joined the protest.
Another protester, surnamed Chen, said that his friend’s husband was not only arrested, but his cash and cell phone were confiscated.
“What kind of policemen were they! They did not show any ID, but just broke down the door and dashed into the house. I saw policemen taking one woman away in her underwear,” Chen said.
“It’s quite chaotic, and riot police are here,” he said. “The head official is not coming out to talk to us.”
Victims of Factory Pollution
Villagers complain that the exhaust from a ceramic factory has been jeopardizing the quality of life and health of local residents.
“The exhaust smells like disinfectants. It’s horrible and makes me dizzy,” Chen said. “My neighbor’s bamboo shoots stopped growing, and the school children have to cover their mouths and noses.”
The ceramic factory in question is located less than 170 feet from a residential area and an elementary school with 900 students. Students are reported to have symptoms of coughing, sore throats, dizziness, and chest pain.
There is no tap water in the village and residents drink from wells they have dug. The factory also releases waste water into the ground, polluting local sources of water. Residents have complained about loud noises from the factory as well.
Even neighboring villages are affected—residents complain that wind-born pollutants have caused a large number of crops to wither.
Taking the Issue into their Own Hands
Villagers at first approached the Bureau of Environmental Protection with their complaints, and were told the factory was being monitored and was unlicensed due to its failure to meet environmental standards. Local government officials took no action to assist the residents, and neither did the factory respond to complaints.
Two months ago, residents of the affected villages determined they would initiate action on their own. Thousands cooperated to set up roadblocks which stopped the factory from transporting materials. They also demanded that the ceramic factory move out of their area.
A fight broke out between residents and the factory owners the evening of Aug. 9. A resident told The Epoch Times that the factory owner threatened to run down residents with trucks. He also threatened to blow up an oil tank in the factory that would cause the whole village to burn.
The resident also reported that the owner bragged he had paid a town hall official a million yuan, and “he was not worried about us.”
Read the original Chinese article