12/12/2011, 00.00
CHINA
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Protester dies in jail. Riots over confiscated land on the rise

by Wang Zhicheng
He was arrested three days ago. Officially, he died from "cardiac arrest". Falun Gong members, bishops and priests die in prison for torture. "Mass incidents" that see clashes between police and demonstrators grew to 180 thousand in 2010.
Beijing (AsiaNews) - A man accused of participating in a demonstration against land confiscation died this morning in Wukan prison (Guangdong). The municipal government of Shanwei, which is also under Wukan, said Xue Jinbo, who was arrested last week in Wukan, "immediately felt ill." Transported to the hospital officially he died of cardiac arrest.

Xue Jinbo’s death in prison is just the latest in a series. The UN has reported many times that torture is a "common practice" in Chinese prisons. Several thousand members of the Falun Gong die in prison. In addition, two bishops, Mgr. Gao Kexian and Msgr. Han Dingxian have died in detention (see: 31/01/2005 Unofficial Yantai Bishop Gao confirmed dead 02/09/2007 Catholic’s doubts on the death of Msgr. Han Dingxian, underground bishop of Yongnian ).

Since September local farmers have been protesting. They accuse the government of speculating on the land of their villages, robbing them of the land without paying a fair price.

On 21 September, the protesters also attacked the government buildings of Wukan and a police station (see 23.09.2011 Guangdong, more social protests against the requisition of land).

Three days ago Xue Jinbo was arrested, while demonstrations and sit-ins continue. The Shanwei government has promised to investigate the farmer’s accusations, but this has failed to quell the protests.

Chinese law requires local governments to pay compensation to dispossessed villagers, but the sums are often not considered adequate. In other cases, the requisitions are put in place to make way for large infrastructural projects, generously funded by the big banks.

The requisition and the non-payment of land are the main cause of the so-called "mass incidents". In 1994 there were 8,700 of these "accidents". In 2006 there were 127 thousand. The figures from last year are around 180 thousand.


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