12/23/2011, 00.00
CHINA
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As Wukan celebrates and Haimen fights, Guangdong becomes a land of protests

The rebel village embraces one of its protest leader after he was released yesterday following a deal between residents and government officials. In Haimen, residents are clashing with police for a third day in a row over a power station, as law enforcement uses tear gas and water cannons to quell unrest
Guangzhou (AsiaNews/Agencies) – After a long struggle against land seizures and corruption among local Communist officials, residents in the rebel village of Wukan are celebrating the return of Zhang Jiancheng, one of their protest leaders who had been arrested two weeks ago by police. Meanwhile, in Haimen, 150 km from Wukan, residents continue their fight against abuses by the Communist regime.

Zhang, 26, was released after a deal was reached at a meeting between village leader Lin Zuluan and provincial Communist Party leader Zhu Mingguo in Lufeng on Wednesday.

Zhu, Shanwei party chief Zheng Yanxiong and a dozen other officials visited Wukan in the afternoon and were greeted by villagers with a round of applause and shouts of ‘welcome’.

The officials had agreed to the village’s demands, removed corrupt officials and pledged “justice” in the case of Xue Jimbo’s death.

Two protest leaders, Zhuang Liehong and Hong Ruichao, have not been released though because they have refused to sign statements admitting to any wrongdoing.

Arrested along with Zhang, Xue died during an interrogation. Villagers believe he was killed by police, which claims instead that he died of heart attack.

"Xue Jinbo and I arrived at Shanwei detention centre at 1.30 pm on 9December," Zhang said. "I was subjected to 31 and half hours of straight interrogation and deprived of sleep. I was not allowed to sleep until 10.30 pm on December 10. My eyes were all blurry when I was sent back to my cell,” he said. “It was the most painful experience.”

Speaking about his fellow prisoner, he said, “I was in cell 28, which is near the exit, and he was in cell 24. I was not sure if he was beaten in the cell. Around 11 pm on 11 December, I heard four loud kicks on his cell door and he was carried out by four guys. I yelled his name loudly dozens of times—'brother Bo, brother Bo'—but he didn't respond. That was when I suspected he might have been dead."

Although central authorities have said that they would investigate the case, Wukan residents remain sceptical.

Meanwhile, in Haimen, residents are in their third day of protest (pictured). Locals want to stop a coal-fired power station, fearing that its emission would cause cancer. They are angered that the project is the result of unlawful deals between local authorities and some investors.

Police have tried to drive protesters away with volleys of tear gas, water cannons and charges. They have also blocked the road linking the town to the rest of the country.

Social unrest continues across China. It is no accident that the most violent episodes are happening in the rich southern province of Guangdong.

Land here is among the most expensive in the country. Increasingly, the amount of compensation for seized properties is decreasing in a place that is home to the most important foreign companies. Wages are also low and the government plans to keep them that way to attract more foreign investors.

However, workers are increasingly unwilling to remain silent. Last year, more than 180,000 episodes of social unrest were recorded in fact.
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