04/01/2006, 00.00
CHINA
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Shanwei: Residents forced to keep silent, even with Beijing

The authorities of the village in Guangdong, where police killed three peaceful protesters last year, forced all the residents to sign a statement declaring they will not speak about the case "with outsiders or the central government".

Shanwei (AsiaNews/SCMP) – Families from the village of Shanwei, where police killed at least three people when they opened fire during a peaceful protest last year, have been forced to sign a statement promising "not to talk to outsiders or the central government about what happened", said a relative of one of the victims, who asked to remain anonymous.

On 6 December, police fired on protesters in the small village in southern Guangdong as they protested the local government seizure of their land.

The foster father of Lin Yidui, a 26-year-old killed in the shooting, said the Shanwei propaganda department "had kept the relatives under strict surveillance since late February". He said: "The authorities forced us to sign these statements because they discovered that we wanted to present a petition of protest to Beijing. Some villagers tried to contact overseas media who may have helped us shed light on what happened." Signatories violating these orders "will be severely punished".

Jiang Haiying, deputy head of the Shanwei municipal party committee's Organisation Department, told the central authorities the three people killed "were not civilians, but criminals with a violent streak". This was news to Lin's father: "We are cut off from the world and we are not allowed to speak out. This happens because we are considered as nobodies, we simply don't exist. The officials can say anything they like and we cannot contradict them, because we have no rights."

An official of the Propaganda Department confirmed that the authorities gave "special attention" to the village. He said: "We are just keeping in contact with the villagers because we see them as friends."

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