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Author Topic: Protests Continue in China's Rebel Village Ahead of Leader's Trial  (Read 307 times)
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September 09, 2016, 10:32:30 AM
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Protests Continue in China's Rebel Village Ahead of Leader's Trial

2016-09-06

http://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/protests-09062016133847.html

Thousands of residents of a rebel village in China's southern province of Guangdong took to the streets on Tuesday ahead of the trial of their former leader on graft charges.

Shouting "Give us back our Party Secretary! Release Party Secretary Lin!" the protesters surged onto the streets of Wukan village near Guangdong's Lufeng city in protest at the formal arrest and imminent trial of Lin Zuluan, who was appointed leader in 2012 after heading a successful campaign of peaceful protests over lost farmland.

Lin was held on suspicion of "accepting bribes" since June, according to an online statement by the Shanwei municipal government, which oversees Wukan but was sidelined by provincial authorities in the resolution of 2011 clashes in the village.

Prosecutors have accused Lin of pocketing a large sum of money through contracting village infrastructure projects, and he has "confessed" on local television.

But local people remember earlier clashes in 2011, when Lin directed a series of nonviolent protests over the mass selloff of land by his predecessor Xue Chang, during which protester Xue Jinbo died in police custody, igniting mass displays of public mourning that further kindled public anger.

Protests were restarted earlier this year after a committee charged with buying back the land stalled amid a network of vested interests in local government.

"It's been more than two months now, and people are still coming out in protest every day," a Wukan resident surnamed Liu told RFA. "There are still protests every day, starting at 5.00 p.m."

"We come out and shout slogans. This has been going on for 77 or 78 days now," Liu said.



Warned to stop

Local authorities issued a police notice on Monday warning residents to stop their protests and threatening to pursue those responsible with a criminal investigation.

Liu said police are visiting the homes of protesters to put pressure on them to stop their demonstrations.

"The Lufeng police put out a statement telling people not to get involved in the Wukan dispute ... and that anyone who did would be sent to the police," Liu said.

But he said most protesters have vowed not to give up their protests until Lin is released.

Grassroots election expert and former independent People's Congress deputy Yao Lifa told RFA that Lin's family was recently informed that his trial would start on Thursday at the Chancheng District People's Court in Guangdong's Foshan city.

"They don't want any media attention at Lin's trial, nor do they want it to become a focus for nongovernment groups," Yao said.

Online reports indicate that some visitor permits will be granted for the trial, however.

An employee who answered the phone at the Chancheng district court on Tuesday declined to comment.

"You need to call the filing chamber about this," the employee said.

Calls to the number provided rang unanswered during office hours on Tuesday.

Calls to the Lufeng municipal government offices and police department also rang unanswered during office hours on Tuesday.



Lawyers denied access

Two rights lawyers hired by Lin's family to represent him have been denied access to their client, and were warned off taking the case by local authorities, who appointed their own lawyers instead.

In 2011, Wukan's villagers manned barricades to stop police from entering their homes and detaining any more people as the standoff hit world headlines.

Their cause was eventually taken up by the Guangdong provincial authorities, who overruled local officials in Lufeng, removing Xue Chang from his post on corruption charges and ordering a one-person, one-vote election for his replacement that was also widely publicized.

But while Lin was made head of the village committee and several of the 2011 protest leaders were elected as a result, very little was done to retrieve Wukan's lost farmland, villagers said.

Then, in July 2014, former protest leaders Hong Ruichao and Yang Semao, who had both served on the newly elected village committee, were jailed for four and two years respectively for "accepting bribes."

Relatives said the charges against them were trumped-up by local officials in an act of political revenge.

Earlier this year, villagers persuaded Lin to mastermind a new land petition campaign, but he was detained before he could launch it, setting renewed street protests in motion.

Reported by Wong Lok-to for RFA's Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.
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September 10, 2016, 04:20:22 PM
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pro Mr. Lin
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September 13, 2016, 10:08:31 AM
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China's Rebel Village Protests Jailing of Its Former Leader For 'Bribery'

2016-09-08


Authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong have jailed the head of a grassroots democracy movement on "bribery" charges after he planned to relaunch a campaign of petitioning over his village's lost farmland.

Lin Zuluan, former ruling Chinese Communist Party secretary for Guangdong's rebel village of Wukan, was handed a 37-month jail term and a U.S.$60,000 fine after a court in Foshan city found him guilty of taking bribes and of other charges.

Wukan residents, who were largely prevented from attending the trial by draconian security measures, rejected the sentence, however, saying the charges against Lin were trumped up.

"This was clearly a forced confession, I'm sure of it," a resident who gave only a nickname Bing Shu, told RFA. "I want secretary Lin to come home, and then things will get better in this village."

"When other people were party secretary here, we had nothing," Bing Shu said. "That changed when Lin became party secretary."

He said some 2,000 people had come out in protest in Wukan, only to face a heavy police presence on the streets.

"There were police at every intersection, and they were checking every vehicle that was going in or out of the village," Bing Shu said. "Also, the phone signal was very poor during that time, and it was hard to make any phone calls."

Lin admitted taking bribes in a televised "confession," but few in Wukan believed it to be genuine, as the authorities had also prevented him from meeting with lawyers hired by his family to defend him.

Supporters turned away

Canada-based rights activist Yeung Hung, who has followed events in Wukan closely in recent years, said security outside the Foshan Intermediate People's Court was tight on Thursday, with many of Lin's supporters turned away after evading security to reach the city.

"The villagers who had applied to attend the trial weren't even able to get close to the court buildings," Yeung said. "There were more than 60 police vehicles parked there, and some cars with no license plate at all."

"There were also three water cannons within a 500 meter radius, and the police sealed off the street so that ordinary passersby couldn't get through," he said. "The police told people it was because of road maintenance work."

A second Wukan resident who declined to be named said foreign journalists were also kept away from the court buildings in Foshan during Lin's trial.

"There were some foreign journalists who tried to get in there, but they couldn't get in," he said.

He said the government had been handing out letters to specific protesters, warning them not to protest ahead of the trial.

"If they did, they would be arrested," he said. "But the more they do these things, the more angry people get."

Named leader after protests

Lin, 72, was made the new head of the village in 2012 as former protest leaders were elected to positions on the village committee following weeks of protests, and after a standoff at the barricades made world headlines after the death of a protester in police custody in 2011.

The provincial government, unusually, took the side of the villagers, overruling officials in nearby Lufeng city, which administers Wukan, and firing former party secretary Xue Chang from his post on corruption charges.

The elections that followed were widely reported in China's tightly controlled media as a model of grassroots democracy.

But a committee charged with getting the villagers' farmland back made scant progress, and two of its members were themselves jailed on "bribery" charges last year, in a move their relatives said was a form of political retaliation.

Lin's detention in June came as villagers persuaded him to relaunch the land protest campaign, and sparked 80 days of continual street protests.

Huang Shunxing, an official of Foshan's People's Court, told Reuters he was not aware of Lin's case, while Lin's relatives and associates were inaccessible for comment, the agency said.

Reported by Wong Lok-to for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Yang Fan for the Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.


http://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/jailing-09082016115940.html
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September 17, 2016, 09:00:11 AM
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Reporters Detained, Beaten by Chinese Police in Rebel Village of Wukan

2016-09-15


http://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/wukan-journalists-09152016125448.html


Five Hong Kong journalists have been detained, dragged into interrogation rooms for hours and expelled by authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong after they tried to cover a crackdown by armed police on the rebel village of Wukan following weeks of peaceful protests.

The journalists had been sent to cover clashes between riot police and local residents in the village, where thousands of local people have been protesting the jailing of their former leader Lin Zuluan on "bribery" charges.

Ming Pao staff association chairwoman Phyllis Tsang said two of the newspaper's reporters had traveled to Wukan alongside a reporter for the English-language South China Morning Post newspaper.

They were all detained, she said.

"One of them was a writer for the China edition and the other was a photographer," Tsang said. "They were detained in a raid by more than 20 plainclothes police officers on a village house in Wukan at around 9.00 p.m. on Wednesday."

"The police immediately started yelling at them and forced them to squat down, and one of them was struck on the face during this process, while another was beaten in the stomach and chest," she said.

"Then they dragged them into a vehicle and down to the police station, where they were held for around five hours," Tsang said. "They were released at around 2.00 a.m. this morning after they had signed an agreement never to conduct 'unauthorized reporting' in Lufeng again."

"They were escorted to Shenzhen by car in the middle of the night, where they were released."

Violent treatment condemned

Ernest Chi, editor-in-chief of news portal HK01.com, said the remaining two of the five detained journalists were working for his organization.

"Two of our colleagues arrived in Lufeng city at 9.00 a.m. [on Wednesday] en route to cover the latest developments in Wukan, and tried to get into ... the municipal hospital," Chi told RFA on Thursday.

"But they were taken to the Lufeng municipal police department ... for questioning, and held for more than five hours," Chi said.

"During that time, our colleagues weren't treated violently, but ... we are aware that other journalists were treated violently, and we are very concerned about that," he said.

The Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) on Thursday issued a statement strongly condemning the "violent treatment" of Hong Kong journalists.

"The [HKJA calls] on the Hong Kong government to look into the matter and take effective measures to protect the rights and safety of Hong Kong journalists working in the mainland," it said in a statement on its website.

The BBC also reported that its journalists in Wukan were stopped from entering the village.

Meanwhile, the Global Times newspaper, which has close ties to the ruling Chinese Communist Party, said foreign journalists were "obsessed" with Wukan, and accused them of fomenting trouble in the village.

'Foreign forces' blamed

It said the 80 days of protest had been staged mostly by Lin's relatives and people who wanted to make money by causing trouble, although it didn't specify how.

"And a few are taking orders from foreign forces," it said.

"Even though some foreign media have been unscrupulously inciting, planning, and directing chaos, local police have not resorted to violence to solve the issue," the paper said.

Tensions remained high amid tight security after dozens of people were been beaten by police or injured by rubber bullets and detained, local residents said on Thursday.

"There are police and plainclothes officers and vehicles going back and forth, which is disrupting people's lives," an Wukan resident who asked to remain anonymous told RFA. "They are detaining people just for making phone calls [to the outside world]."

He said the five journalists were "betrayed" after a reward was offered for information on their whereabouts.

"There are a few people in Wukan who are on the government's side ... and they have been betraying Wukan residents and betraying journalists," he said. "They inform on us to the government."

Criminal proceedings loom

Local sources said a handful of people have been released since Wednesday's raids, but many remain in police custody and could face criminal proceedings.

U.S.-based former Wukan resident Zhuang Liehong said his father and three people who sheltered journalists were among those issued with notifications of criminal detention.

According to China Media Project editor David Bandurski, the accusation that "foreign forces" are behind any calls for democracy, transparency or just treatment is now a familiar theme in China's official media, which President Xi Jinping has said must work for the ruling party.

"For Xi Jinping, the Wukan model is a dangerous precedent that must be not just crushed but discredited," he wrote in an article on Medium.com.

"This time, it is Wukan’s failed experiment in engagement and democracy that will be mythologized, and Lin Zuluan’s shame that will be paraded before the public."

The crackdown in Wukan comes after a court in Guangdong's Foshan city sentenced Lin Zuluan, 72, to more than three years' imprisonment on "bribery" charges.

Lin, former Wukan party secretary and former leader of earlier land protests in 2011, was handed a 37-month jail term and a U.S. $60,000 fine by the Foshan Intermediate People's Court last week, after it found him guilty of taking bribes and of other charges.

Wukan residents rejected the sentence, staging further protests over charges they said were trumped up.

Lin, 72, was made the new head of the village in 2012 as former protest leaders were elected to positions on the village committee following weeks of protests, and after a standoff at the barricades made world headlines after the death of a protester in police custody in 2011.

The provincial government, unusually, took the side of the villagers, overruling officials in Lufeng and firing former party secretary Xue Chang from his post on corruption charges.

The elections that followed were widely reported in China's tightly controlled media as a model of grassroots democracy.

But a committee charged with getting the villagers' farmland back made scant progress, and two of its members were themselves jailed on "bribery" charges last year, in a move their relatives said was a form of political retaliation.

Reported by Lam Kwok-lap and Wong Lok-to for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Yang Fan for the Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.
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September 17, 2016, 09:01:37 AM
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Members of the Democratic Party demonstrate in from of the Hong Kong Central Government office on behalf of local reporters detained and beaten covering protests in Wukan, China, Sept. 15, 2016. (RFA)
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