Two Thousand Villagers Urge Freedom for Representative
On November 9, Chen Qian, a representative of villagers in Dongzhou Town, Shanwei City, Guangdong Province was arrested by the Red Bay Public Security Bureau for hanging signs which condemned last year's “12.6” massacre (armed police opened fire at villagers on December 6, 2005). On November 10, over 2000 villagers responded by going to the Dongzhou Village Office and demanding the release of Chen Qian.
The officials at the Dongzhou Office refused to cooperate, resulting in a standoff which lasted for over ten hours. At first, the staff inside locked the door and denied entry to the villagers. The villagers responded in turn by keeping any of the staff inside the building from leaving.
Eventually the villagers were allowed to enter the office, but the government was still unwilling to allow the release of Chen. Needless to say, this caused strong dissatisfaction and resentment among the villagers.
A reporter from The Epoch Times called Dongzhou Village Office to inquire as to the reason for Chen's arrest and subsequent detention. The man who answered the phone said that he was not sure why Chen was arrested and quickly hung up the phone. No one at Red Bay Public Security Bureau would even answer the phone.
A villager, Mr. Xu said, “Yesterday (November 9), Chen was arrested. We were all worried and didn't know what to do. They have no reason to arrest him. He often helps villagers to deal with various issues and problems in their lives. He is a very kind and warm-hearted person. As long as they don't release him, we won't release them either. Now over 1000 villagers remain here. No government official has come out to resolve the issue.”
Many villagers in Chen's area have recently had much of their land taken away and they were evicted without compensation. During the last two months, Chen has appealed various times to the local officials to resolve this issue, but hasn't gotten any response. On the morning of the 9th, he hung banners publicly exposing and condemning their acts. At 2:30 PM, Red Bay public security bureau arrested him at the Communist Party committee of Dongyi Village.
Recently, Dongzhou villagers held numerous rights-protection rallies at the Dongzhou Buddha Square; demanding that the government provide reasonable compensation for the land. They have also been pushing to have the local government officials be investigated for corruption. All through this they have been demanding severe punishment for the killers who shot villagers last December 6. They have done all of this in hopes that the central Chinese government will send an investigation team to Dongzhou to investigate villagers' current status and to improve their living conditions accordingly. Mr. Ma, a villager in Dongzhou Town said, “During the last few days, many banners within our town were secretly cut down by corrupt officers. This was all done in the middle of the night. Are they afraid that their corruption will be disclosed? If not, why cut banners down in the middle of the night? Even still, no matter how many banners they cut down, villagers will hang new banners in a new way.
It was reported that some officers pushed propaganda outside of Dongzhou stating, “People in Dongzhou are not civilized, they are very wild.” Villagers responded, “Whether this is true or not, friends from the outside world could make a judgment as to who is wild, the corrupt officers or the villagers?”
After having been tipped off that villagers would come to demand the release of Chen on the 10th, all of the work teams from Shanwei were told to leave the city. The village officials in Dongyi village followed suit and left the day before the villagers arrived as well.
Some villagers were quoted as saying, “If the higher-level government officials continue to ignore our demands and the compensation for our lost land remains unresolved, villagers will continue to try and protect our own rights. I am afraid that villagers in Dongzhou will once again experience a massacre like the one last December. We already have no food, why fear death? Villagers already have no way out, what should we do?” Before this article was published, over 1000 villagers were still gathered at Dongzhou Village Office, demanding that the local government release Chen. No government official has stepped out to resolve this issue and the villagers continue to wait anxiously.