Villagers held after dam protest ends in violence

January 17, 2011
Six villagers have been detained, one is on bail and another is being hunted for disrupting construction of a dam and injuring seven people, including three police officers.

The group of eight villagers in Chongqing Municipality’s Fengjie County cut electricity supplies and blocked the entrance to the construction site of a hydroelectric dam last Thursday over a land compensation dispute, Chongqing Morning Post reported yesterday.

The power cut resulted in an injury to a worker in a tunnel 405 meters deep, and threatened the safety of 60 others working in tunnels and on the main dam, it was claimed.

Four policemen and several local government officers arrived at the scene an hour later and tried to restore order, but violence broke out, the newspaper said.

“I will kill whoever tries to reconnect the power supply,” one villager shouted.

The villagers threw stones, injuring the officers, a security guard and three workers.

Three villagers were seized at the scene. Another three were arrested the next day. One villager gave himself up but another was still being sought.

Six of the group are under criminal detention for violence against public function and endangering public safety.

Police said the dam builder had cleared payment for the land by the end of 2009. But online posts said the 40,000 yuan (US$6,072) paid to each resident was thought too low.

Zhejiang-based Ouneng Electric Power Co had also been blamed by farmers for grabbing land to build roads.

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