Villagers, police clash over land dispute

By Zheng Caixiong and Mo Xuan (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-01-21 08:13
GUANGZHOU: At least a dozen people were injured in a clash between villagers and police in northern Guangdong province, in the latest case in the region linked to land disputes.

More than 200 police officers in Yangshan county of Qingyuan, led by Yangcheng township Party secretary Lin Guangqiang, arrived in Huangwu village at about 9:30 am Tuesday to investigate a dispute, a statement from the Yangshan county government said.

Police were reportedly tipped off that villager Huang Qiusheng illegally owned and hid gasoline to make bombs, as well as guns and knives, at home.

However, villagers told local reporters a different story.

Villager Huang Huosheng said the clash broke out after police officers threatened to forcefully clear villagers’ homes to make way for the construction of a key project for Yangshan county.

Only one of the 108 families in the village had agreed to move, and signed a contract to allow the construction of the project, villagers said.

Most of the villagers were dissatisfied with the compensation offered by the relevant government departments.

Police officers sealed off the village at 7 am, Huang said.

At least 10 villagers and several officers were injured in the hour-long conflict, Huang said.

Lin Guangqiang was injured in the conflict also, villagers said.

Two police cars were also reportedly destroyed in the clash.

Police officers used anti-riot weapons and tear gas to disperse the crowd, while villagers used stones and bamboo poles to fight back and defend themselves during the clash, local villagers said.

The conflict was brought under control at about 11 am and police lifted the blockade at about 4 pm.

Chen Tianxiang, a professor from the management school of politics and public affairs under the Guangzhou-based Sun Yat-sen University, told China Daily yesterday that conflicts between farmers and local government departments usually take place only when farmers’ legal interests are compromised, or when the farmers don’t have a channel to express their concerns.

He urged officials to seriously take into account farmers’ concerns when dealing with resettlement and land development issues.

“Relevant government departments should open more channels for farmers to lobby the government for additional assistance and to express their views,” Chen said.

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