Wukan: 9 inhabitants sentenced for "illegal protests"

In 2011 the village had inspired many popular revolts against corrupt Party secretaries who sold their land pocketing the profits. The sentences are an attempt to stifle this "example" of democracy.

Guangzhou (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Nine Wukan villagers have been sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for "illegal protests". The alleged offenses date back to last summer, when their leader Lin Zuluan was arrested on charges of corruption. The Haifeng court, who issued the judgment on the nine, accused them of illegal demonstrations, disrupting traffic and deliberate dissemination of information.

From June to September the villagers held protests for Lin’s release and for failed promises of compensation after their land had been sold by the party secretary.

The village of Wukan (Guangdong) had become a symbol of the struggle for democracy and a symbol for all of China. In 2011 its inhabitants challenged the sales of its land (see photo) and after months of clashes with police and despite a siege were able to obtain the dismissal of the local Party Secretary and to hold democratic elections in which Lin Zuluan was elected.

In a short time Wukan became a "model" for other villages in China, all affected by expropriations and similar corruption and embezzelment. Wukan was one of the few examples in which the Communist Party had taken a step back, respecting the rights of the villagers. The arrest of Lin Zuluan, with under "false" charged according to locals, and conviction of nine people seems to be a settling of scores and an attempt to erase this "example."