07/04/2005, 00.00
CHINA
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Clashes over requisitions continue

In the southern province of Guangdong arrests continue as police and farmers clash over land evictions.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Thousands of farmers demonstrated last week-end against a government-backed land grab in the southern province of Guangdong. Clashes erupted after police detained some protesters, the Empowerment and Rights Institute (ERI) reported.

"Some 200 demonstrators began the protest Saturday, but by the evening several thousand protesters had arrived, with farmers from other areas joining in," Maggie Hou, an ERI official, said.

Some 600 police watched and eventually charged as the protesters shouted slogans and carried banners that said "give our land back" and "the land law should be implemented equally".

At least one person, identified as Shao Shuntian, was arrested after clashes broke out with the law enforcement officers Saturday.

"Police clubbed her with a baton and began kicking her after she fell down. She tried to fight back and so they took her away," Ms Hou said.

An independent American photographer, Scott Gorman, was also detained by local police on July 2, but was released later in the day.

Local police officials refused to comment on the incidents.

The protest began on June 30 when some farmers received eviction notices. Farmers had been forced into signing blank contracts with the local land administrative office in 1992. Upon receiving the notices, they tried to stop bulldozers from levelling about 670 hectares of land near Sanshangang village.

Land prices in Guangdong, the shop floor of China's booming export-oriented industry, have sky-rocketed as thousands of factories have sprung up to employ cheap labour.

Farmers' protests are becoming increasingly frequent in China, with most of the unrest stemming from heavy-handed government land requisition polices and widespread poverty.

On June 28, 600 from the village of Janxia, in eastern Zhejiang province, stormed a factory making toxic batteries taking 100 workers hostage.

Last month, President Hu Jintao spoke with top police officials urging them to "ensure greater social stability".

At the end of June, six demonstrators opposing an eviction notice were killed in Hebei province with an additional 50 out of a total of 200 injured.

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