07/07/2008, 00.00
CHINA
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Expulsions begin for corrupt officials, unmasked by accusations from the public

In Guizhou, four officials have been fired after protests over a girl's death, and accusations of severe malfeasance. In Shaanxi, numerous officials falsified photos of a rare tiger in order to obtain funds, but the citizens have unmasked them.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - At least four officials have been fired after being implicated in the death of a girl, Li Shufen, in the county of Wengan (Guizhou). Important victories "for public opinion" against the corruption of the communist party.

The officials dismissed are the communist party secretary for the county, Wang Qin, county chief Wang Haiping, public security director Shen Guirong, and public security commissar Luo Laiping. Shi Zongyuan, head of the communist party for the province, accuses them of "severe malfeasance" committed before the latest incident. The population has frequently accused them of stealing their land, of corruption, of involvement in criminal activities.

Shi now admits that "if the people's rights and interests are hurt because of improper police or government decisions, we should admit the mistakes and correct the wrongdoings".

But everyone believes that this is an attempt to quiet the fierce protests of the population, with 30,000 people who have taken to the streets, damage to more than 150 public offices, and 40 police vehicles burned. The uprising emerged from the discovery of the body of 15-year-old Li Shufeng, who committed suicide according to the police, while her parents say that she was raped and thrown into the river.

The girl's father, Li Xiuzhong, denounces the climate of violence that encircles him as if he were the guilty one: "They have sent ten officials to my home, watching me day and night. They [officials] told me what to say when the reporters interviewed me. They threatened me [not to say anything wrong]".

Everyone observes that there is no need for these threats and these "firings", if the girl killed herself. Yuan Weishi, a professor at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, observes that "many party cadres are still used to dealing with problems through communism's traditional autocratic attitude and never take investigations seriously".

Another scandal has exploded in recent days: the photographs of the Chinese tiger from Shaanxi in last October are false, doctored by local officials in agreement with the farmer who produced them in order to obtain government funds of at least 10 million yuan (one million euros). The photos were at first held to be authentic, and were viewed all over the world. The fraud emerged thanks to many critical observations from citizens, in spite of the fact that the officials insisted on their authenticity for more than eight months. But in the face of increasing evidence to the contrary, they had to give in. Now seven officials have been charged as accomplices, including the deputy director of the forest department of Shaanxi, Zhu Julong. Various others have been dismissed over the incident.

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