Thousands Riot in Northwest China
The largest riot in recent years broke out in Longnan City, in Northwest China’s Gansu Province, over a government-backed eviction project and unsatisfactory compensation to residents.
Sources say that in recent months, news about the Longnan City government moving its municipality’s administrative center from the Wudu District to Cheng County triggered worries and discontent among residents in the Wudu District. Those who are especially concerned include farmers whose land will be seized by the government but who have not been relocated or given compensation and residents who will be forcefully evicted from their homes, as well as land developers.
Tens of thousands of residents made two attempts to attack the Communist Party Office in Longnan City, from late on Nov. 18 until early the next day. The crowd eventually grew to 50,000 people.
The authorities dispatched armed police to suppress the riots. Over 100 farmers were injured, with several dozen severely wounded. Some witnesses said that about two dozen farmers died in the clashes.
Ms. Zhou, an eyewitness who is a resident of Dongjiang Town, told Radio Free Asia (RFA) that several hundred people who had been forcibly evicted first went to the Party Office in Longnan City on Nov. 18 to appeal to the government regarding the unreasonable eviction project, but the appeal erupted in a massive riot.
She said that by the following morning, the crowd had lost control and started to attack the Party Office. The first clash occurred when the authorities sent for a large number of armed police and used violence to disperse the crowd, injuring and arresting at least a dozen farmer’s representatives.
The police successfully broke up the crowd at around 2 a.m. on Nov. 19. However, the violence of the police further angered the farmers. A huge crowd of farmers again went to the Party Office at around 9 a.m. on Nov. 19 to demand an official response. The authorities, however, again responded with large-scale suppression against the sizable crowd of farmers and bystanders.
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Ms. Zhou said, “Because the appeal at the Party Office was ignored, the farmers and the armed police started to fight in the night. At least a dozen farmer’s representatives were injured and arrested, with many being hospitalized.
“This morning, more farmers gathered at the Party Office and demanded that they not destroy our homes and that they release the representatives. Several hundred armed police again attacked us. I was pushed to the ground. I saw at least a dozen people who were heavily wounded fall to the ground.”
Mr. Zhou, another farmer, said, “At the time, there were about 50,000 people. The Party Office dispatched several hundred armed police from the neighboring counties. They carried police batons and used tear gas several times to disperse the crowd.
“They then violently beat the farmers and arrested those who were injured. Many of them who were chased by the police ran for their lives. Many farmers were wounded. I estimated that over 100 farmers were injured.”
Zhou said that some angry farmers attacked and smashed two Party office buildings and burned many officials’ cars.
Mr. He, another farmer, said that he witnessed many farmers getting beaten to death by armed police; however, authorities did not report any fatalities. He said, “The city government sent for many armed police and beat two dozen appellants to death. They persisted in making their appeal. I was there, and I witnessed the armed police beating the farmers. About two dozen people were beaten to death, and countless were wounded.”
Mr. He said that the Longnan City government proposed to take over several thousand acres of farmland in Liutiao Village, Dongjiang Town, early this year. Tens of thousands of farmers were dissatisfied with the low compensation, and have therefore refused to move. They have made appeals to the local government many times but to no avail.
After the riot broke out, the state-controlled press only briefly and casually reported the incident and blamed the riot on the appellants.
Read this article in Chinese.