04/22/2008, 00.00
CHINA
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Uprisings in Yunnan and Hainan: police fire on the crowds

Farmers are rebelling against the appropriation of their land, destined for the mining industry or for golf courses. One has been killed and five wounded in Saixi; 300 have been wounded in Longqiao. The campaign against Tibet used as a smokescreen to conceal domestic problems.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews/CHRD) - The police of Yunnan have fired on a group of 100 farmers who were seeking to defend their land, appropriated for a mining company.  The incident took place on April 20, but the news has come out only today because the authorities had isolated the zone.  In the clashes with police, at least one farmer, Chen Changfa, of Miao ethnicity, was killed; five others were seriously wounded, and more than 20 beaten and bruised.

The bloody incident took place in the village of Saixi, near the city of Mengdong, in the autonomous prefecture of the Miao ethnic group, one of the dozens of minorities present in China.  The mining company Zijin, one of the most important in the country, was negotiating with the inhabitants of the village in order to open a tungsten mine on their land.  But the inhabitants had been refusing so far, because the compensation promised to them was insufficient.

Two days ago, protected by public safety guards, police, and civil guards sent by the government, a group of miners had begun excavations on village territory.  The farmers tried to stop them and to record the scene with video cameras, to document the violation.  The police and the miners confiscated the video cameras, while the tension continued to increase.  At a certain point, the police fired on the crowd, and Chen was struck and immediately killed.  Five others were seriously wounded and taken to the hospital of Wenshan.  Another 20 farmers were treated in the hospital of Malipo.  Dozens of villagers were taken away by the police to be interrogated.  The government of Malipo blocked any leak of news on the incident, and the police set up roadblocks on the main roads in order to check and interrogate anyone entering or leaving the county.

A similar incident took place between April 9 and 13, in the province of Hainan (southern China).  The police clashed with 6,000 inhabitants from three villages, of Li ethnicity, in Longqiao (district of Longhua).  The inhabitants were protesting against the local government for having confiscated more than 100,000 square metres of farmland (about 7,000 hectares) to create golf courses, giving them insufficient compensation.  The police launched tear gas and attacked the crowd, wounding at least 300 farmers.  Some of the police were also wounded.  The police isolated the entire area and are not permitting journalists to interview the inhabitants.

According to Chen Xiwen, deputy director of the central office for financial and economic affairs, the forced appropriation of land is the main cause for the hundreds of uprisings constantly taking place in the country.  Information from the land and resources ministry says that in 2006, improper appropriation of land grew to 100,000 hectares, an increase of 76% over 2005.  At least 43,000 of the hectares appropriated are farmland.  Some party officials defend the use of weapons against farmers and demonstrators.

According to some human rights activists, the campaign against Tibet and the Dalai Lama launched by China is also being used to conceal all of these violations taking place inside the country and against the Chinese population itself.

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