12/19/2005, 00.00
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Government defends Dongzhou massacre

The police "acted in the best way possible". The victims of the shooting have been identified for the first time. A final account of the clashes will be published "once life in Dongzhou ia back to normal".

Shanwei (AsiaNews/SCMP) – The provincial government of Shanwei has defended the handling of the protest which broke out in Dongzhou two weeks ago. This is the second time the government of the city in the southern province of Guangdong has come out in support of the action. Their public defence appeared yesterday in the Nanfang Daily, a local newspaper, and was quoted by the Xinhua government agency.

The text affirms that the authorities acted "with full control" and emphasised that without the use of force, many more lives would have been at risk. On 6 December, paramilitary police opened fire on a demonstration in Dongzhou by residents protesting against the requisition of their land. The government says three people were killed in the clash but residents put the death toll at 20 victims at least.

Yesterday's document "laid blame for the violence on a few instigators" but failed to tackle the police action which increased the violence to the extent that it spiraled out of control.

The government identified the victims, for the first time, as: Wei Jin , 31, Lin Yidui , 26, and Jiang Guangge , 35. It said families had claimed the bodies of Lin and Jiang but Wei's body was left in the morgue.

"During the chaos, rioters kept throwing petrol bombs at police," a city spokesman said in the report.  "The situation was very critical and police had to take immediate actions to put a stop to the riots and disperse the crowd or the lives of police and villagers at the scene would have been at risk."

Regarding the complaint by villagers that the local government had taken their land away without adequate compensation, the spokesman insisted the government had "done everything it could" in accordance with state regulations and demonstrated "greatest sincerity" in explaining the situation to the villagers.

According to the government, 1,629 families agreed to the government's terms and compensation offered, and 25 refused. It is these last, continued the spokesman, who had misled the other villagers. "Under the pretext of acting on their behalf, they used the excuse of insufficient compensation and corruption to stir up villagers to participate in many illegal assembly, demonstrations and protests," he said.

A complete account of what happened will be published "at the end of the inquiry, when life in Dongzhou is back to normal".

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See also
Dongzhou: government's deafness led to massacre
Beijing: "Dongzhou no Tiananmen"
Farmers, protesting the theft of their lands, are jailed for “extortion”
Asia, rain and pollution obscure the eclipse of the century
China, farmers defend human rights activist


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