Chinese Police Kill Villagers During Two-Day Land Protest
By Edward Cody
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, December 9, 2005; Page A01
DONGZHOU, China, Dec. 8 -- Paramilitary police and anti-riot units opened fire with pistols and automatic rifles Tuesday night and Wednesday night on farmers and fishermen who had attacked them with gasoline bombs and explosive charges, according to residents of this small coastal village.
The sustained volleys of gunfire, unprecedented in a wave of peasant uprisings over the last two years in China, killed between 10 and 20 villagers and injured more, according to the residents. The count was uncertain, they said, because a number of villagers could not be located after the confrontations.
The tough response by black-clad riot troops and People's Armed Police in camouflage fatigues deviated sharply from previous government tactics against the spreading unrest in Chinese villages and industrial suburbs. As far as is known, authorities put down all previous riots using truncheons and tear gas, but without firearms.
This time, according to a witness, police responded to villagers throwing explosives by firing "very rapid bursts of gunfire" over a period of several hours both nights. Some villagers reported seeing police carrying AK-47 assault rifles, one of the Chinese military's standard-issue weapons. There were no reports of violence Thursday night.
The villagers were protesting land confiscations in Dongzhou, a community of 10,000 residents 14 miles southeast of Shanwei city, in Guangdong province near Hong Kong. In their confrontation with authorities, they also stepped up their tactics by using homemade bombs and explosive charges that local fishermen normally use to stun fish in the adjacent South China Sea. In previous riot reports, attacks against police were limited to throwing stones and bricks or setting fire to official vehicles.
The Communist Party and the city administration of Shanwei, which has jurisdiction over Dongzhou, held all-day meetings Thursday on the violence, officials said. A spokesman for the city government, however, refused to discuss what happened in the village and declined to give his name. He said only that local authorities were taking the crisis seriously.
There also was no public response from the Guangdong provincial Communist Party and government, which have faced several long-running and violent confrontations involving land confiscations over the last year. The government-censored press and television have not reported on the violence in Dongzhou.
Police set up a roadblock at the edge of the village, stopping most vehicles from entering or leaving, and white Public Security vehicles patrolled the main road linking Dongzhou with Shanwei. Pedestrians and motorcycles were allowed to pass in and out of the village, however, and buses waited for passengers just outside the checkpoint.
About 700 yards away on the main street, approximately 100 villagers glared Thursday afternoon at a force of about 300 riot police who wore helmets and carried shields and batons. An officer using an electric loudspeaker repeatedly urged residents to leave.
"This has nothing to do with you," he called out. "Return to your houses."
The long-simmering conflict in Dongzhou arose over disputed confiscations and what farmers here said were inadequate compensation payments. Authorities exercising the equivalent of eminent domain seized farmers' fields to build a wind-driven electric generating plant on a hillside overlooking the village. The plant would be part of a $700 million electricity development project to supply the growing power needs of Shanwei and surrounding towns and villages.
Villagers, contacted by telephone, complained that the compensation was inadequate. Moreover, they charged, the power plant would also spoil fishing in Baisha Lake, a tidal inlet just below the hill, on which villagers rely heavily for food.
The confrontation was typical of the tension between the drive for economic development in China -- which has a growth rate of 9 percent a year-- and farmers' desire to retain the land that they regard as security for their families. Land disputes have been a prime reason for popular explosions of violence, which the Public Security Ministry estimates involved 3.76 million people in 74,000 incidents during 2004.
The pressure is particularly acute here in Guangdong province and the Pearl River Delta where, during the last two decades of economic liberalization, factories and dormitories have steadily replaced rice paddies, corn fields and fruit orchards that used to flourish in the warm, wet climate.
For most of this year, Dongzhou villagers have been protesting on and off against the power plant project, originally scheduled to be finished in 2007 but now delayed.
The villagers interviewed, who asked not to be named for fear of retribution, said the current round of violence was set off when authorities arrested three village leaders who had gone to the hillside plant site Tuesday afternoon to lodge a complaint. Before long, they said, several thousand people gathered on the hilltop to demand their release.
They were dispersed by volleys of tear gas fired by police, residents said. Shortly afterward, authorities dispatched between 400 and 500 more riot police into the village as reinforcements, the residents said. That contingent was met by several thousand angry villagers, they added, and police again resorted to tear gas at about dusk. This time, however, some villagers responded by pelting police with the explosives, according to witnesses, and the police unloosed sustained pistol and automatic-weapons fire over the subsequent three hours.
A similar confrontation occurred Wednesday evening on the main street in the village, leading to more attacks with gasoline bombs and several more hours of shooting, the villagers said. "The police kept on shooting until they drove away all the villagers," said a witness.
In the absence of official information from the government or Dongzhou hospital, reports flew from family to family of villagers killed, bodies burned and relatives unable to retrieve their slain loved ones left lying in the street. Some said 20 villagers were killed each night; others said the total was 14.
"I saw the bodies lying there," said one witness to the violence on Tuesday night. "The family members were afraid to go and get them."
One villager said his younger brother, Liu Yudui, 26, was hit by two rounds, one in the heart and one in the abdomen, after he stepped outside to see what was going on. "He died before we could get him to the hospital," the brother said.
And we trade with this country? Ah, yes, money is important, but human rights... those can go under the rug for the right price. Shake your heads, politician-types.
Now this is an election issue I'd like to see debated; "Why do we deal with countries who abuse human rights as a matter of policy?" Answer me that...
Pictures will follow soon.
I honestly can say that I can't stand the sound of my own voice. This may come as a big surprise to those of you who've heard me jabber on... but, yes, it's true! I think I may just stop talking altogether... blah!
12. Make your heart stand still!
Trying to quell first-date jitters? Blow on your thumb. The vagus nerve, which governs heart rate, can be controlled through breathing, says Ben Abo, an emergency medical- services specialist at the University of Pittsburgh. It'll get your heart rate back to normal.
I think that one would come in handy when I'm on stage or up in front of my church...!
Here's the link.
Relapse, I suppose.
The past few days, I go from being "ok" to wanting to get away from this place to wanting to curl up in a ball and cry in a matter of minutes...
Lord, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I cannot accept and the wisdom to hide the bodies of those people I had to kill because they pissed me off.
For the past month and a bit (since Meg and I broke up) I've been kind of up and down in my internal moods. I think externally few people are able to tell exactly what kind of mood I'm in. Of late, it's been a pretty rotten one, and I've more or less felt like a lump.
Two weeks ago I was at November Rally for the weekend, and apparently two of my friends didn't realise I was going to be away for the weekend (Thursday - Sunday). They noted that I hadn't been online for a few days and were actually worried about. Indeed, they thought I'd been abducted by strippers!
That Sunday I came home in the afternoon and they spotted my car in the driveway while they were out and about. They then stopped by here, pounded furiously on the door and gave me a scolding for not telling them where I'd gone. The three of us ended up spending a few hours together.
This past weekend I was in charge of the service at my church. I was responsible to write the majority of the prayers, the children's time, and of course, the sermon. I spent nearly a week working on it all and managed to have it completed around Saturday. Throughout the week I spent a lot of time bemoaning the task before me (which I'd volunteered for). Lots of people listened to me and gave me words of encouragement, which helped me to get through writing everything, and helped me to flesh out the ideas. And let us not forget the four people who read it over for me and gave me some tips on how to improve the sermon.
What I'm getting at is that I feel loved. And this is just a small sampling of what people have done for me in the last little bit. Despite breaking up with a girl who I've had a lot of great times with, and who I love, I feel more loved than I ever have. I am proud to say that I have the greatest friends in the world. You don't know how great you are, but I hope that you'll read this and know that I love you all dearly. Thank you so much for everything you are to me.
My friends are cool. *grunt*
If you'd like to see some pictures, go here.
At Kiva.org Peope can loan x number of dollars to a business of their choice in the developing world... so easy... so helpful! I guess they haven't had anyone default on the loan, but you donate such a small amount it's not a big deal. And you don't make any money on it, but you do get to help someone make a life for themselves... that's awesome.
Unfortunately (or fortunately?) they got a lot of publicity lately, and now they have no businesses left to sponsor!
I ran into a little extra spending money lately, and this is something I'd like to see happen...
I started a new job this month at Transalta... as you can see, this is my office that I share. And those are my candies... hands off!
This is the view from my window:
On Thanksgiving weekend, Tim and I went down to Kingston to pick up Meghan... and spent far too long in traffic:
That weekend also brought on another big change... Meg and I broke up. We're still on good terms, but we both felt that things weren't quite right, and that we should probably try different things for the time being.
To make myself feel better I partook in what Brandy refers to as "retail therapy" and bought a new sleeping bag for the winter months: (for the record, I didn't take this picture just because I could... Amy was asking me about it and this was the easiest way to show her!)
So, I've been really busy with work and such, and today Dave and I had to go buy new workboots as ours were both falling apart. So we took his son out with us to enjoy the trip.
And now I'll leave you with some fun cloud pictures that I've taken with my Palm lately... the weather has provided ample opportunity for unique cloud formations recently.
This one almost looks like a cross...
We left Sarnia Corunna on the morning of the fourth, crossing at the Bluewater Bridge (where else?) and began our trip heading west.
Coming out of Illinois we entered the great state of Cheesetopia:
Wisconsin. Not that thrilling of a state. It reminded me of Northern Ontario with lots of trees, and lots of hills. Lots of fields full of cows. Through Minnesota we drove, finally crossing the great Mississippi River at La Crosse and entering Minnesota.
That night we stayed at Great River Bluffs State Park, which is near Winona, MN. We ate dinner at a wonderful place I like to call "Steak and Cake". Why do I call it that? Well... that's what the sign says. Inventive, I know... they're having a contest to rename the place!
The next day, we headed onwards to Minneapolis / St. Paul, and the Mall of America. This was quite the place. It wasn't quite as big as I expected, but, amazingly, even I was entertained by how many stores were there that interested me. My favourite was, of course, the flight simulator place. I flew a Spitfire for half an hour against three other fellows. Pretty cool.
And so we met Wally:
After we left Badlands, we headed to the town of Wall to visit the famed "Wall Drug". I honestly don't get this attraction. It was a drug store with all sorts of tacky tourist stuff. The advertisements stretched for about 300 miles in either direction on the interstate, so we were a little curious by the time we reached it. Fortunately I needed to get a light bulb for my turn signal, and there was also an auto parts store in Wall which served that purpose neatly.
Westward we continued, through Rapid City, then south to Keystone, home of the famous Mount Rushmore. We took a picture, but didn't see what all the fuss was about.
The driving in the Black Hills was great, and the views were stupendous.
Next, we visited Jewel Cave National Park. This cave system was pretty cool, unfortunately we were too late to take an in-depth tour, so we got the 20 minute introduction to the cave, 200 feet below ground-level. It's too bad the pictures didn't really turn out.
After we left Jewel Cave, we headed into Wyoming, another favourite. This is where Meg saw her very first mountain.
This is also where I was struck dumb because of the vastness of the land. I got out of the car while Meg took this picture just to listen to the area... all I heard was silence. Amazing. This highway also took us through a hamlet which had a population sign that read "1". I'm disappointed we didn't go back to take a picture of it! On our way down to Glendo, WY, we spotted this thundercap off to the east over the plains:
Our next stop was Glendo State Park. Let me tell you something... don't go there. We never saw a ranger, in fact, we only saw two other people in the park. The bathrooms were also pretty nasty.
Finally we made it to "Colorful [sic] Colorado!"
We checked into our hotel,
From a distance:
The one thing between Meg and starting her singing career at RR...
The view from our seats:
Meg and I:
Meg and a rock:
View of Denver from RR:
Getting things ready:
Afterwards, we decided to drive up a mountain. Not just any road, though. The highest paved road in North America.
Unfortunately, we weren't able to make it to the top, due to clouds and rain... but we made it to 11,000' above sea level... which is pretty damned impressive!
The next day we went to the Denver Aquarium and stood amongst the fishes. I'd recommend this as a stop for anyone in Denver. The pictures don't do it justice, but we had a great time there.
The obligatory "Finding Nemo" pics:
That evening came the show we'd come for! The Dave Matthews Band... and boy did they rock! The sound was great... the crowd was into it... and the band played amazingly... they even got some of the new songs to grow on me! Here're the shots I grabbed... apologies for the quality.
I can't really describe how much I enjoyed the show. Suffice it to say, the drive home the next day was worth it.
We left Denver around 8:45 Denver time, travelling into Nebraska, (the most boring State to drive in...)
onwards through Iowa, where we stopped for gas in Iowa City around 9 PM (Central). From there we kept on going, through Illinois, Indiana, and into Michigan. We reached the Canadian border about 7:30 AM (Eastern), and were in Corunna by about 8AM, where we unloaded Meg's stuff. I went home to catch some sleep before we headed to Kingston to drop Meg off at school. We were supposed to leave about 3:00... I slept until 3:30 when Meg called me... anyways, we left Corunna around 4:30, made it to Kingston about 10. I spent a couple of days with Meg, her roommate, Joelle, and Joelle's brother, Brent. Fun was had by all! Then back to Sarnia, and back to the same ol', same ol'.
And thus was my vacation to Denver with Meg! I hope you enjoyed reading (or at least looking at the pictures! I'll update on the goings on in my life since I got back in a the next little while. But for now, it's time for this guy to go to bed! I hope everyone is well!