Taishi Village's Struggle for Democracy in China (Photo Essay, Part I)
Taishi, a small village of 2075 residents in south China's Guangdong Province, is still in the throes of a difficult struggle to gain democratic election in the village.
In July, over 400 villagers signed a petition to remove the village head Chen Jinsheng, who is suspected to have embezzled village funds. Subsequent events threw the village into a struggle much larger than the villagers ever expected.
On August 16, the government sent about 500 riot police to the village, attempting to take away the village accounting book. The police confronted the villagers, arrested some and injured some others.
On August 31, the Fanyu District in Guangdong Province refused the villagers' law-binding petition. On September 1, villagers started a hunger strike protesting the government's violation of village governance law, only to be forcibly removed from the strike site by the police.
On September 12, the government sent about 1,000 special task police, who used force to remove the village's accounting book that the villagers had been protecting for over 50 days. Forty-eight were arrested.
Others involved in the Taishi case have been arrested or assaulted as well. Guo Feixiong, the village's legal representative and a civil rights activist, was arrested. Liu Xin, a Hong Kong-based reporter, was interrogated by the police and the taxi she hired was vandalized. Ai Xiaoming, a law professor from Guang Zhou city, together with two lawyers and a reporter, was physically attacked on a visit to the village.
Taishi's story is still unfolding. The government is pressuring villagers to withdraw their signatures from the removal petition.
See related article: Chinese Villagers' Lawful Election Meets Crackdown