Information about police violence during the recent mass protest in Dalian over toxic chemical pollution is coming to light. Despite the positive press the incident has received, riot police from out-of-town savagely beat students, leaving pools of blood on the ground, witnesses said. The protest is said to have been the largest in northern China since the 1989 Tiananmen Square student protests.
Responding to online calls to “take a walk” in the public square, tens of thousands in Dalian City, Liaoning Province, came out on Sunday, Aug. 14, to demand that authorities shut down Fujia Dahua Petrochemical Company because of toxic chemical leaks.
It started out almost like a mass family outing: people took their young children and elderly parents along to participate in the protest walk. Many carried high-quality banners and displayed messages on t-shirts.
Riot-police surrounded the square soon after the crowd grew, but they showed restraint.
Hong Kong’s Apple Daily published a photo of a middle-aged woman wiping the sweat from a young riot-policeman’s forehead while saying, “Kid, don’t worry, we won’t cause you any trouble.”
Photos and messages were posted on microblogs and Internet forums, although they were deleted almost as fast as they went up.
Tang Jun, the new Party Secretary of Dalian, came out and reassured people that the plant would be relocated, but didn’t say when.
Tang replaced Xia Deren, who was promoted to deputy Party Secretary of Liaoning Province less than a month ago. Xia had approved the Fujia Dahua Petrochemical Company to operate in Dalian, and has been the main target of people’s anger.
But things took a turn after a dozen or so busloads of riot police arrived from another city. An eye witness told Voice of America (VOA) that they were dispatched on orders of Xia, the governor of Liaoning Province.
These police started beating unarmed protesters, leaving pools of blood on the pavement. Many people were injured and arrested.
A video posted to YouTube showed a young woman crying and saying that there was a lot of blood, and those who were beaten were all students.
An article with photos was posted to Boxun, an overseas dissident website, saying that he saw a young man in a hospital with his face badly beaten and blood stains all over his clothes. The person who had carried him to the hospital said the riot police had stopped the man and beaten him.
Another eyewitness told VOA that police fired tear gas and used pepper spray and batons.
“Over 20 students were seriously injured. In the end, the local police almost clashed with the out-of-town police, and they were on the brink of starting a gun fight,” he said.
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