Several Thousand Police Suppress Chinese Villagers

March 28, 2006 12:00 am Last Updated: March 28, 2006 12:00 am

At 8 a.m. on March 22, 2006, local officials led several thousand armed police into Baijiawang Village in Zhejiang Province, China to destroy the villagers' crops and forcibly confiscate their land. Local residents confronted the police, leading to several hours of violent conflict.

A local resident said, “[The police] parked a lot of vehicles along Jiaojiang Bridge. We did not know exactly how many there were. The armed forces wore helmets and bulletproof vests; they beat us with batons. All we could do was throw rocks at them from afar.” More than ten villagers were injured during the altercation. Of these, five were seriously injured and had to be hospitalized. Three people, Zheng Chongri, Wang Xiangde and Wang Pinbao, were arrested.

The bloody clash occurred because the government planned to confiscate over 300 mu (50 acres) of farmland to sell it to land developers below market value. When this proposal was vetoed by local residents, District Director Chen Xiangrong led several thousand armed police to suppress the villagers. Baijiawang Village, in the Jiaojiang District of Taizhou City, Zhejiang Province, is a village of 3,000 residents.

Local residents had heard the day before that officials were sending troops to subdue them. Some elderly villagers woke up early the next day to examine the situation and saw that a large group of people was indeed heading their way. The villagers cooperated and built roadblocks to prevent the police from entering the village. A local resident explained, “Except for our local officials, fully 99 percent of us [villagers] do not want to sell our land. The same sort of confrontation also occurred last year. The troops entered our village at three or four o'clock in the morning and were prepared to fill our paddy and orange fields with stones. We fought for our rights successfully, that time.”

Another villager said, “When we learned of the government's plan to suppress us on March 22, all residents, young and old, took the initiative to prevent the police from entering our village. An intense battle ensued which led to casualties on both sides. The police beat us with batons and caused a serious injury to one villager's head. His condition has stabilized after surgery. Three elderly residents, all over the age of 60, were arrested for attempting to prevent the police from hitting people.”

It was learned that a few government officials and village heads hold the right of land acquisition at Baijiawang. Only the village heads know the details; the farmers in the village know nothing. The farmers do not want their land to be seized, not only because the compensation for the land seizure is a mere pittance, but because this land is what they live on. For those who don't know how to do business, their small plots of land are all they have to sustain themselves and their families.

Farmers for the village have gone to Beijing twice to appeal but didn't receive any resolution. On the day before the conflict occurred, some farmers went to Beijing to appeal the inadequate compensation offered for farmland forcibly taken from them. No one imagined that this conflict could occur. The farmer said, “The land in nearby Jianshe Village was forcibly seized. Those arrested there have not been released yet. We can only guard our own land. There are no other ways. Only the ordinary farmers are forced to make sacrifices.”

Mr. Yan Zhengxue, a famous artist who resides in Taizhou, also confirmed that this bloody conflict occurred in Taizhou as had been described.

When contacted by this reporter, the Police Department of Jiaojiang District, responded, “As to this matter, I don't know the details. The leaders are at meetings.”

The reporter then called the Jiaojiang government offices. One government official told the reporter, “Please inquire at our Foreign Affairs Office Department of Propaganda if you have detailed questions.” When further asked, “Was there a bloody conflict?” The official answered, “They didn't fully understand the situation, so the report was unauthentic. We are in a coastal open city. These sorts of things cannot occur here.”

The reporter asked in return, “According to you, the incident didn't occur?” The official said, “It is not that this conflict didn't occur. It was not a bloody conflict. How can you call it a bloody conflict? This group of people (referring to the farmers) has a very strong clan bond.”

The reporter asked further, “At the time (of the conflict), the government ordered eight large coaches of armed police, all dressed in uniforms with iron helmets to enter the village. Were any farmers seriously injured?” The official responded, “The aim was to bring development there. This is an underdeveloped area. The Office of Foreign Affairs will provide you with the details, all right?”