Thursday, October 09, 2008

Chinese sit-in over corruption

Chinese farmers protested the lack of appropriate government response to the destruction of a dam that destroyed fish ponds and fields. A peaceful sit-in was met with a military crack-down.

Spero: Hundreds of Chinese organized a sit-in and blocked traffic on October 8 at the town of Sanjiang in Guandong province. According to Human Rights in China (HRC), based in New York City, witnesses reported that hundreds of protesters were met by more than five hundred soldiers and other security personnel to disperse the throng. In a report by HRC, Chinese security forces were said to beaten protesters and left some seriously injured and unconscious. Those protesters who tried to record the incident on cell-phones were also detained and carried off.

The sit-in followed damage wrought by Typhoon Hagupit, which destroyed a dam in Shenlei village. Flooding thereafter destroyed farmland, aquaculture ponds, and other property on which farmer rely upon for their livelihood. Villagers reported that a few months ago, local officials removed and sold all of the palm trees which had been planted next to the dam, leaving the dam unprotected against extreme weather. Local peasants attributed the collapse of the dam to the removal of the trees and approached the local government to request assistance after the flood. So far, they have received nothing.

"This is not only a case of police brutality," said Sharon Hom, executive director of Human Rights in China. "This involves a bigger issue of official theft of public property—cutting down and selling the palm trees—resulting in a man-made disaster that wiped out the peasants' livelihood." Villagers reported that their phones are now blocked and the village is under tight security, guarded by plainclothes policemen.

Accusations of official corruption are rife in China, involving the current scare over milk and milk-products tainted with deadly melamine as well as incidents of environmental contamination and official malfeasance and extortion.

Info: HRC

Zhong Guo Renquan

No comments: