The police clashed with villagers in the rebellious village of Wukan in southern China after the former village head was imprisoned last week on corruption charges.
Hong Kong media on Tuesday (Sept. 13) obtained photos and videos that showed riot police using rubber bullets and tear gas on villagers. A television station showed footage of the police entering people’s homes and arresting them. According to authorities in Lufeng, Guangdong province, 13 people were arrested (link in Chinese). Wukan is a village in Lufeng city.
A BBC producer in China shared the following photos that were obtained from Wukan villagers:
An unverified video circulating on social media purportedly shows riot police in Wukan being chased away by villagers:
“Around 300 police cars entered the village at 3 am to 4 am to arrest people,” said (link in Chinese) a Wukan villager surnamed Cai in an interview with Hong Kong’s Now TV. “There were clashes between villagers and the police and an 80-year-old woman was hospitalized after authorities used tear gas against the villagers.” Footage of the protests showed many villagers waving large Chinese flags even as they faced off against police.
On their official account (link in Chinese) on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, the Lufeng police posted that they were investigating the people spreading “doctored images” of the “so-called Wukan incident.”
The fishing village has been a rare tinderbox of open rebellion since 2011 when large-scale protests broke out over land disputes. Authorities detained the village chief, Lin Zuluan, in June on corruption allegations, kicking off another round of unrest. Lin was elected in open elections in 2012 in an unusual move by authorities to assuage angry villagers.
Lin was last week sentenced to three years in jail and fined 400,000 yuan ($60,000) after being found guilty of taking bribes in connection with construction projects in the city. Lin appeared in what appeared to be a forced confession on TV in June admitting to his crimes. Irate villagers have vowed to fight what they see as an unjust sentence.
According to Yang Xusong, the mayor of Shanwei, the municipal region which includes Wukan, some land has been returned to Wukan villagers and that all of the villagers’ “legitimate demands for land” have been met after the sentencing of Lin.