11/10/2006, 00.00
CHINA
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Guangdong: dogs and teargas "free hostages" of villagers robbed of their land

Hundreds of riot police dispersed around 3,000 villagers who kept a group of Communist officials and foreign investors as hostages for 18 hours to protest against the theft of their land and due compensation.

Guangzhou (AsiaNews) – Hundreds of riot police overnight dispersed around 3,000 Guangdong villagers who kept a group of Communist officials and foreign investors as hostages for 18 hours to protest against the seizure of their land. This was reported by Radio Free Asia.

The police used tear gas clubs and dogs to push protesters towards a 2km-long security cordon, which allowed authorities to identify all those on the scene. But no one was kept in custody.

One protester said: "The police unleashed around 15 German shepherds on elderly villagers were just sitting on the ground. The police did not treat us as humans."

The siege started on the night of 8 October: the protesters, all residents of Sanzhou village surrounded an enormous granary built on their land that was seized by force from the government. They were protesting against the corruption of local officials who spirited away the compensation allocated to them by the central government.

At the time, there were around 300 people inside, including officials from the central authorities, and local and foreign investors from Thailand, Germany, England and Hong Kong. Some analysts believe the presence of foreigners prevented the outbreak of violent clashes, the conclusion of an increasing number of protest rallies in China nowadays.

Land disputes in Sanzhou emerged in 1992, when the government stole land from residents and resold it to private investors, giving them around 6,000 yuan (around 600 euros) per head in compensation. In 2005, a petition signed by more than 10,000 called on the government to publish contracts of sale of more than 9,000 mu (1.482 acres) of land.

According to this information, land was bought by foreigners for more than 130,000 yuan per mu. But the villagers only got 30% of this sum. Residents are rebelling and accusing local officials of corruption, but their petition has been largely ignored. This is why protesters laid siege to the granary.

One of them said: "Our country is now rich enough to help Africa. But our villagers are in worse shape than the people of Africa. The government cares only about how fast the economy is growing. They don't care if people are suffering."

"The Communist Party should serve the people," said another. "It should not help corrupt officials to abuse the peasants."

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Guangdong: 4,000 villagers take hostage 300 Communist officials, foreign guests
09/11/2006
Beijing admits to one million illegal land-use cases
08/06/2006
Dongzhou villagers sent to prison
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Daily fight over land in China
23/07/2009
Local governments seize land fraudulently from farmers
09/07/2007


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