Thousands of villagers in two hamlets in a coastal county in southeast China have protested against local government officials for quietly selling communal land to developers. After forceful protests, village Party officials fled, and the village is now in the hands of the masses.
It’s not Wukan, but the East and West Panhe Villages, Cangnan County, in Zhejiang Province. Mr. Chen, a resident reached by telephone, told The Epoch Times that villagers have held large-scale rights-defense protests since last October. The continuous protests led to village government staff running away, he said; and the 5,000 or so residents now keep order themselves. Chen said that they have a sense of unity and autonomy. It is unclear on what actual date local officials left.
A villager, Lu Yeqin, told New Tang Dynasty TV, “Village cadres sold land. Some of it belonged to villagers, but the cadres didn’t give any money to the villagers after selling the land, so we can’t accept it. That land was from our ancestors. We lived on the land before, but now it has been sold.”
Mr. Lu, also a villager, told The Epoch Times that the developer filled the fish ponds on the land with landfill in order to build factories, beginning in October. It was only after construction began that residents realized that their land was secretly sold by Party officials in 2006.
The October protest erupted when villagers began tearing down the walls enclosing the land and construction site set up by developers, damaging some of their equipment. Large numbers of police arrived to suppress the crowd, wounding many. Mr. Lu said his brother was arrested on that day, along with around a dozen others, six of whom have not been released, according to Mr. Lu.
Mr. Chen told The Epoch Times that villagers were inspired by the victories wrought by Wukan’s villagers. They decided to hold demonstrations, gathering residents from both East and West Panhe villages, as well as Pinan village. They marched to government offices, which is now an empty building.
“The Wukan villagers’ victory provides an example for landless peasants. Villagers of Panhe village want to get rid of the control of the local government. We take to the street and shout slogans, hoping to arouse the attention of higher levels of government. If the government doesn’t release the villagers and solve the problem of the land, villagers will hold larger rights protecting movements,” Mr. Chen said.
As Mr. Chen was talking on his cell phone on the morning of Feb. 5, sounds of gongs could be heard in the background. He said that since they haven’t marched to the Bacao town government several miles away, they haven’t been harassed by police.
Read the original Chinese article.