Shanghai Police Brutalize Property Owners with Pepper Spray and Tear Gas

December 1, 2007 Updated: December 1, 2007

On the evening of November 26, over 1,000 property owners from the Wanke Holiday Scenic Residential Subdivision in Minhang District, Shanghai City, gathered to protest against the government’s expansion of high-voltage power lines, which are believed by residents to be a health hazard. Several hundred police used pepper spray and tear gas on the crowd; several property owners were beaten up and arrested.

The residents told The Epoch Times they felt that it was difficult to be a good citizen in China. According to the residents, on the morning of November 26, after most residents had gone to work, the local power company and police went to the Wanke Holiday Scenic Subdivision to begin construction of the high-voltage power lines without the owners’ consent. They dug a hole on the lawn. In protest, senior citizens who were doing morning exercises organized themselves, lined up in front of the wired fence, and stood in the holes dug by the police. The police forcefully removed the seniors from the holes.

At about 8 p.m., hundreds of property owners from the subdivision gathered to protest against the government’s action. They shouted loudly the slogan “Return Our Home, Return Our Health.” At its peak, the number of protesters reached over 1,000 people.

In a half an hour, the police declared marshal law to prevent more residents from joining the protest. They arrested several resident representatives, which led to more protests.

Hundreds of special police, paramilitary police, anti-bomb squad police, regular police, staff from the local housing management company, and security guards from the power company used pepper spray and tear gas on the residents. Several residents who were taking photos or arguing with the police were surrounded and beaten up. They were later taken away in squad cars.

Property owners confront the police. (The Epoch Times)
Property owners confront the police. (The Epoch Times)

Ms. Zhao, one of the residents, said, “Many people couldn’t open their eyes, as their eyes were red and swollen from the tear gas. My neighbor’s eyes were still hurting even this morning. Many elderly and women sat on the ground crying. I saw two young men besieged by the police. They were pushed to the ground, kicked, and beaten. Another resident who was taken away yelled through the squad car window that he was beaten by over a dozen policemen.”

Another resident, Mr. Liu, said that several property owners went to the district government to appeal and was told that both the district director and deputy director were away at a meeting. The Party Secretary was also not available. The residents were told to go to the local police station, where they were told to go to the district government. Mr. Liu said, “They were just kicking us around. They try to fool the common people.”

Mr. Tang, another resident, said that the residents contacted several local media about the situation, but the media refused to report on it. Mr. Tang said angrily, “The so-called ‘freedom of speech’ is a total lie. The Chinese media have always been mouthpieces of the ruling party. The only thing we can do is to go to overseas media.”

A banner protesting against the construction of high voltage power lines in Chunshentang Subdivision of Shanghai on November 27. (The Epoch Times)
A banner protesting against the construction of high voltage power lines in Chunshentang Subdivision of Shanghai on November 27. (The Epoch Times)

According to the residents, on August 10, 2006, the Shanghai Power Company distributed a letter stating that the company would be constructing extremely high-voltage power lines of 550 KV across the densely populated Chunshen Residential District in Shanghai. Hundreds of thousands of residents in over 20 subdivisions along the power lines, as well as students from over 20 schools, may face increased health risks due to effects of electromagnetic fields. There was strong opposition from the residents.

No consensus was reached after some negotiation. However, since September 2007, the power company has begun construction in Chuncheng, Chunshen, Xinge Elementary School, and Jinming in Shanghai City, without giving any notice to the property owners. Their work was halted due to resident opposition.

On November 18, some residents went to People’s Square and the city government to appeal. They were arrested and beaten up by the police. Since then, protest banners can be found in many subdivisions.