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China: 'Down with corruption, reclaim our land' -- Call for support for Wukan; 打倒貪官 還我土地 — 香港行動 全球呼籲:支持陸豐烏坎村民的民主鬥爭

Residents attend a rally in Wukan, a fishing village with a population of 130,000 in the southern province of Guangdong. Photo: AFP/Getty Images.

[For more discussion on China's economic and political development, click HERE.] 

The following petition, organised by the Hong Kong-based coalition Left21, explains the background to, and demands of, the rebellion by the people of Wukan.

* * *

December 15, 2011 -- China Labour Net/Left21 -- On November 21, 1927, under the leadership of Peng Pai, pioneer of the Chinese communist revolution as well as a committed socialist, the country’s first rural Soviet administration was established in area of Hailufeng, Guangdong province. Thus began the first chapter of the communist movement in China.

On November 21, 2011, less than a few kilometres away from the founding site, at Wukan village (part of Lufeng city in eastern Guangdong province), a few thousand villagers took to the street. Holding up signs that read "Down with dictatorship", "Curb corruption", "Down with government-business collusion" and "Return land to the people", villagers marched to the government headquarters at Lufeng city to protest against officials’ illegal land seizures and sales. Their demands were clear: to reclaim the land sold without the consent of the people, to release public accounts concerning the some 400 hectares of land seized and sold since 1978, to launch investigations into fraudulent elections and to enforce the Organic Law of Village Committees to hold fair and open elections. The demonstration ended peacefully after the acting mayor received the villagers’ petition.

Illegal land sales prompt villagers’ mobilisation

Since the early 1990s, the villagers of Wukan had launched petitions at the local governments of Lufeng, Shanwei, and Guangdong province, only in vain. A proper reply from officials was never made. Without democratic elections, the secretary of the Communist Party's local chapter, Xue Chang, has stayed in power for 41 years. Abusing its position as the so-called representative of Wukan, the village committee has sold and leased hundreds of hectares of land without consulting the villagers, and yet in the past few decades, villagers have received less than 500 yuan in compensation.

The ongoing demonstrations were prompted by allegations that Hong Kong-based businessperson Chen Wenqing, who is originally from Wukan, had colluded with the village committee to strike a private land-sale deal with luxury home developer Country Garden, thereby gaining the 700 million yuan that was supposed to be paid to the villagers. As the representative of Guangdong province and Shanwei city in the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the honorary president of the Confederacy of Hong Kong Shanwei Clansmen Ltd, as well as owner of various hotels and development companies in the mainland, Chen holds numerous official positions both in the mainland and Hong Kong. In recent months, as Country Garden began its construction work, villagers could no longer put up with the situation.

On September 22, 2011, the villagers of Wukan rose up and launched a mass protest at the municipal government, after which officials promised to investigate the problem. The village committee leadership that was under suspicion immediately fled the area, leaving the village without an administration.

To prevent a state of anarchy and to strengthen the mobilisation of the people, villagers filled the leadership vacuum by democratically electing 13 representatives and setting up a Provisional Board of Representatives to conduct village affairs. In mid-October, villagers also established a Women’s Representatives Federation to support the ongoing struggle. At the same time, the Lufeng municipal government sent out a team to investigate the situation.

However, on November 1, the government announced that it would relieve party secretary Xue Chang and vice party secretary Chen Shunyi of their duites, and agree to Chen’s resignation from the village committee leadership. The municipal government did not implement democratic elections after that, but appointed the vice-mayor of Donghai township as the new party secretary of Wukan. The problems of land and official corruption raised by the villagers were not properly investigated and addressed. After two months of unresponsiveness and inaction on the government’s part, the villagers had no choice but to launch a peaceful protest on November 21.

Villagers call general strike; elected representative dies

After the march on November 21, on December 3, the municipal government unilaterally announced to the press that the issues had already been solved, and that the Wukan "incident" had come to an end. Outraged, more than 13,000 villagers launched a general strike from December 4 and held assemblies and marches. On December 5, villagers protested against the arrival of the undemocratically imposed party secretary.

On December 9, police arrested village representatives Zhuang Liehong, Xue Jinbo, Zhang Jiancheng, Hong Ruichao and Ceng Zhaoliang on criminal charges. Two days later, on the night of December 11, the Lufeng municipal government suddenly announced that the democratically elected representative of Wukan village and vice-president of the Provisional Board of Representatives, Xue Jinbo, had died of a heart attack. Officials stated that external causes of death had been ruled out. This directly contradicts with the recording of Xue and his daughter that has been circulated on the internet. According to Xue’s daughter, Xue’s entire body was bruised, his hands swollen, his chin and nose caked with blood: clear signs of having been tortured to death.

Police seal off village in siege

In response to Xue’s death, on December 12 and 13, the villagers of Wukan organised an assembly to remember him and to voice their anger. They swore to continue the struggle to remove corrupt officials. Currently, roads into Wukan have been sealed off by thousands of security personnel, effectively cutting off Wukan from outside contact and even stopping the village’s water and food supplies. As a result, food is becoming increasingly scarce in the village. Earlier, in attempt to enter the village and arrest more democratically elected representatives, police threw gas canisters at protesters and demolished the homemade roadblocks that the villagers had set up to prevent police from besieging the village.

Faced with continued demonstrations, the municipal government has only acknowledged that it would hold a "double designations", that is, to have the village committee’s party members attend question sessions at a designated place for a designated duration. Officials also announced the suspension of the two projects coordinated by former party secretary Xue Chang and Hong Kong-based businessperson Chen Wenqing.

Same problem: capitalism

While the villagers of Wukan are fighting a difficult battle, at the same time, teachers in Lufeng city also launched their own demonstrations on December 11 to demand a pay rise. Like the 1922 agrarian movement in Hailufeng, the struggles of the Wukan villagers as well as their political and economic demands have a pioneering significance in the history of Chinese workers' and peasants’ fight for democracy. The Hailufeng peasants’ movement in the 1920s, the workers’ strikes in Hong Kong as well as Shanghai all echo each other in highlighting the economic and political crises that plagued global capitalism and capitalist states.

Today, more than 80 years later, the workers' and peasants' movements in Hailufeng similarly echo the recent labour strikes in Shenzhen, Dongguan, Shanghai and so on. They all shed light on the current political and economic crisis in which wealth and power in society are concentrated in the hands of a few.

"Down with corruption, reclaim our land" is the voice of 1 billion Chinese people. It is also the voice of the millions of Hong Kong people who live under the oppression of property hegemony. The revolutionary tradition that began in Hailufeng has been revived once again. While thousands of police surrounding the village, the government declares the people’s democratically formed organisation illegal, refuses to tell the truth regarding Xue Jinbo’s death, arrests and jails village representatives and only investigates corruption on the village level.

It is clear that the villagers of Wukan have reached the most difficult and yet critical point of their long and hard-fought struggle.

At this fateful hour, we call on those who push for progress and freedom around the world. We call on the people of China and Hong Kong to give their full support to Wukan’s fight for democracy. On December 17, we in Hong Kong will protest!

We demand that the central government:

1. Immediately stop the sealing off of Wukan, and release the arrested village representatives;

2. Return Xue Jinbo’s body and release the details and truth behind Xue’s death; punish the security personnel in charge of extracting confessions by torturing Xue and make a formal apology and grant compensation to Xue’s family;

3. Recognise Wukan’s democratically elected Provisional Board of Representatives, allow representatives to participate in investigations and handle the matter in an open, fair and just manner;

4. Reclaim the sold land and return it to the villagers of Wukan;

5. Address the demands of the villagers to curb corruption and implement democratic elections;

6. Investigate land seizures in the country ad stop the privatisation of land.

Left 21
December 15, 2011

打倒貪官 還我土地 — 香港行動 全球呼籲:支持陸豐烏坎村民的民主鬥爭

廣東陸豐烏坎村村民的抗爭正在進行!為了土地和民主選舉的運動,正演變成為一場震驚世界的農村民主運動。現時,武警已將其包圍及封鎖下, 1.3萬人的烏坎村自我組織起來。但武警斷了水電食物供應,村民糧食只剩下7天!他們正計劃於本星期三21號舉行遊行,出來繼續抗爭!
我們各界要支持村民!一齊聯署撐村民的抗爭!

現有聯署團體:

左翼21、
民間人權陣線、
社會民主連線、
職工盟社會事務委員會、
新民主同盟、
中大學生會、
土地正義聯盟、
浸會大學國事學會、
一代人公社、
香港天主教正義和平委員會、
關懷中國、
香港中文大學國是學會、
香港中文大學聯合書院學生會、
香港基督徒學會

(聯署團體陸續加上...)
Petition:
打倒貪官 還我土地

----香港行動 全球呼籲:支持陸豐烏坎村民的民主鬥爭

1927年11月21日﹐在中共革命先驅﹑社會主義者彭湃的領導下﹐在廣東海陸豐地區成了了全國第一個蘇維埃政權﹐打響了中國共產主義運動的第一炮。

2011年11月21日﹐離第一個蘇維埃政權成立現場的遺址不到數公里的陸豐東海鎮烏坎村,數千村民走上街頭,高舉“反對獨裁,懲治腐敗,反對官商勾結, 還我耕田”標語進行遊行到陸豐市政府門口,抗議政府官員私賣土地,要求收回未經市民同意賣出的土地; 公佈1978年以來賣出的6000多畝土地的去處;徹查選舉中的腐敗和造假,要求依法落實《村民委員會組織法》,進行村領導的選舉。村民在代市長接信後和 平散去。

官商腐敗私賣公地 村民自發組織起來

在上世紀90年代初以來,烏坎村民到陸豐市﹑陸豐所屬的汕尾市和廣東省已經進行了多次的上訪行動,惟一直沒有得到合理的回應。烏坎村的黨委書記薛昌,在沒 有經過民主選舉的情況下,已經擔任了41年的黨委書記;村內幾千畝土地未經村民同意即被村委會以集體名義出賣和出租,而村民們幾十年來只得到近500元的 補償。

今次事件起因是由於祖籍烏坎的港商陳文清被指與與村委會勾結,倒賣土地予發展商碧桂園,從中私吞碧桂園支付的7億元補償。陳文清在內地及香港有多項的公 職,包括廣東省及汕尾市政協委員’香港廣東汕尾同鄉總會會長,在內地亦有多間酒店及開發公司等。近月碧桂園已開始在當地動工,引起大量村民不滿。

2011年9月21日和22日,烏坎村民已經覺醒,發起了到市政府的集體抗議行動,並獲市政府承諾,徹查事件。受到村民們質疑的村委會領導當即逃離村莊,三層辦公室人去樓空。

為了避免陷入無政府狀態和加強組織紀律,村民們自發以民主選舉產生了13位代表,成立了“臨時代表理事會”,代行村務。10月中旬,村民們更成立了“婦女 代表聯合會”,支援維權鬥爭。同時,陸豐市政府派工作組進駐村莊調查情況,但市政府只是在11月1日決定免去村支部書記薛昌和支部副書記陳舜意職務,並同 意 陳舜意辭去村委會主任職務;市政府不但沒有落實民主選舉﹐更令所屬的東海鎮一名副鎮長兼任烏坎村黨支部書記職務。村民所呼籲的土地問題與官僚腐敗並沒有得 到徹底調查。在政府兩個月後仍沒有合理答覆的情況下,村民發起了11月21日的和平抗議行動。


村民號召罷工罷市 村民領袖酷刑致死

在11月21日的遊行結束後,12月3日市政府單方面向媒體宣佈事件已經解決,市民對此感到極大的憤怒,12月4日開始,全村1萬3千多村民繼續了持續的罷工﹑罷課﹑罷市﹑罷漁,並進行集會和遊行抗議。12月5日,村民抗議非民選的村支書進村任職。

12月9日,警方刑事拘留莊烈宏、薛錦波、張建城、洪銳潮、曾昭亮等5位村民領袖。兩天之後的12月11日晚,陸豐市政府突然公佈,烏坎村民選村代表、臨 時理事會副會長薛錦波心源性猝死,並同時表示已經排除外力致死的可能性。這說法和薛錦波的女兒薛健婉在網絡流傳的錄音明顯不同。薛健婉表示,她父親胸部破 損,到處都是淤青,手都腫了,手腕淤青,下巴和鼻孔破皮出血,很明顯是被酷刑致死。


武警攻村 斷水斷糧

對于薛錦波的冤死,12月12日和13日,烏坎村民在村內發起了吊念和申冤的集會, 並誓言繼續鬥爭,打倒腐敗和貪官。目前,烏坎村及附近的公路,已經被數以千計的公安武警包圍,村民被斷絕了和外界的聯系、亦被斷水斷糧,村內糧食漸趨不 足。武警更在早前發放催淚彈﹐撤除村民設立的路障﹐企圖進村進一步地拘捕市民的民選領袖。

在烏坎市民的持續抗議下﹐市政府只是表示對村的幹部進行“雙規”,即是在規定時間和地點,就涉及的問題作出說明, 和暫停了村民指控的原黨委書記薛昌和當地籍香港商人陳文清官商勾結的兩個合作項目。

不同時空的工農抗爭 同樣的資本主義問題

在烏坎村民進行持續和艱難的鬥爭的同時﹐陸豐市的教師也在12月11日發起了要求加薪的抗議行動。和1922年海陸豐地區的農會運動一樣﹐烏坎村民的抗議 行動﹑自我組織和政治經濟訴求﹐在中國工人和農民的民主鬥爭的歷史上﹐都起到了先驅性的意義。1920年代的海陸豐農民運動和香港和上海等地工人的罷工浪 潮是互相輝映的﹐是當時全球資本主義出現經濟危機和各國資產階級政權出現政治危機的體現。

80多年後的今天﹐海陸豐地區的工農鬥爭同樣和近幾月來深圳﹑東莞﹑上海等地工人的罷工浪潮互相呼應﹐同樣揭示了當前的政治經濟危機﹐社會財富和政治權力都高度累積在少數人手裡。

“打倒貪官 還我土地” 是十億中國人民的聲音﹐也是受“地產霸權”的壓迫之下數百萬香港市民的聲音。號角在有深厚革命傳統的海陸豐地區首先發起了。烏坎村民已經到了鬥爭最艱苦的 時刻﹐數以千計的武警仍然包圍著村莊﹐政府仍然視市民的自發民主組織為非法組織﹐仍然對薛錦波的死沒有一個公道的說法﹐仍然要繼續地逮捕和拘禁民選的農運 領袖﹐對貪官的查處仍然停留在村的級別。

我們呼籲﹐全球的進步社會人士﹑全國人民和全港市民全力支持和聲援烏坎村民的民主鬥爭﹗ 12月17日﹐我們將在香港發起抗議行動﹗


我們要求中國中央政府:

1. 立即解除對烏坎村的包圍,並立即釋放被捕的村民代表;
2. 送還薛錦波遺體,公佈薛錦波死亡的真實原因,懲處刑訊逼供的公安局及其官員﹐並對薛的家屬作出道歉和賠償;
3. 承認由村民自發選出的烏坎村臨時代表理事會,讓其代表參與調查,並公開、公平、公正地處理事件;
4. 回應村民的訴求:懲治腐敗、落實民主選舉;
5. 收回遭變賣的土地,歸還予烏坎村民;
6. 於全國徹查所有徵地糾紛,停止土地私有化。

左翼21
2011年12月15日

 

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And 80 miles east, police fire teargas at anti-coal protesters

Riot police block entrances to Haimen town to quell protests over a proposed coal-fired plant in southern China

Cross-Posted from The Guardian UK

Thursday 22 December 2011 

China protest
Police block villagers after a large crowd formed at the scene of environmental protests in Haimen, Guangdong. Photograph: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

Chinese police have fired teargas to break up demonstrations over a proposed power plant in a southern China town, where protests have escalated into clashes with police this week.

Riot police blocked entrances to Haimen town and aimed teargas canisters at lines of protesters on motorbikes to quell the unrest in the southern province of Guangdong, an economic powerhouse.

Haimen, a coastal town of about 120,000 people, is 80 miles east of Wukan, where a 10-day siege of villagers protesting against a “land grab” ended on Wednesday after the provincial government brokered a deal.

Protests in China have become relatively common over corruption, pollution, wages, and land grabs that local officials justify in the name of development.

Chinese experts put the number of “mass incidents”, as such protests are known, at about 90,000 a year in recent years.

The grip of Communist party rule is not directly threatened by such unrest, but officials fear they could coalesce into broader more organised challenges to their power.

The Haimen tensions have flared for three days as residents protest against plans for another coal-fired power plant, some turning over cars and throwing bricks in clashes with police.

On Thursday, riot police sent teargas into an open space to hold back a large band of protesters on motorbikes, according to footage shown on Hong Kong’s Cable TV. As smoke billowed towards the crowd, some protesters could be seen riding away quickly.

A Reuters witness earlier saw that about 100 men on motorbikes had gathered to watch the wall of police, armed with batons and shields, who were blocking the highway near a large, shuttered petrol station.

“What place in the world builds two power plants within one kilometre?” said one of the Haimen residents as he watched police lines a few hundred metres away.

“The factories are hazardous to our health. Our fish are dying and there are so many people who’ve got cancer,” he said.

“We thought of protesting outside the government office but we know none of them has listened to us. So we had no choice but to block the highway. The police beat up so many of the protesters in the past two days.”

At one point on Thursday the Haimen residents screamed and surged forward when a riot policeman, waving his baton in the air, charged towards a man on a motorcycle who had been riding towards the police blockade on the highway.

“This place is very chaotic, I think it’s best for you to leave immediately,” a man who identified himself as a Shantou government official told a Reuters reporter.

Officials have said they would suspend construction on the project, but residents refused to back down, demanding the plan be scrapped completely.

The Haimen unrest is the latest challenge for Guangdong party chief Wang Yang, a contender for promotion to the highest echelons of the Communist Party in a leadership transition in late 2012.

China’s top newspaper praised the defusing of tensions in nearby Wukan, suggesting that the handling of the dispute would not necessarily hurt Wang’s prospects.

The People’s Daily chided local officials for letting the dispute get out of hand in the first place, but also hailed the outcome as an example of how the government should handle an increasingly fractious and vocal society.

Residents of Wukan fended off police with barricades and held protests for days over the land dispute and death in police custody of a village organiser, rejecting the government’s position that a postmortem showed he died of natural causes.

But after talks with senior officials, village representatives told residents to pull down protest banners and go back to their normal lives – provided the government kept to its word.

Police in Haimen are using the more traditional method for breaking up protests in China – teargas and truncheons. Exits to Haimen from the expressway to nearby Shantou city were closed down.

But life appeared to be normal in other parts of Haimen on Thursday, with shops open and people going about their business.

Government officials, including those in charge of security, have been vague and played down the unrest. A Shantou official told Reuters by telephone there had been injuries in the clashes but no deaths.

An official at the Chaoyang public security bureau denied any deaths or injuries, although he said there had been a “gathering” the previous day. Haimen is under the jurisdiction of Chaoyang district.

State news agency Xinhua said several hundred people had protested on a highway on Wednesday.

According to Hong Kong’s Ming Pao newspaper, more than 1,000 residents had gathered at a toll gate to confront hundreds of police.

On Thursday, China’s main official newspapers published an account of a speech by Zhou Yongkang, chief of domestic security, who urged officials to ensure “a harmonious and stable social setting” ahead of the Communist party’s 18th congress late next year.

At that congress, President Hu Jintao and his cohort will give way to a new generation of central leaders, a sensitive transition for the one-party government.

Wukan updates

Wukan activists appear to be winning a bit

San Francisco Chronicle
 - 1 hour ago
... of a local leader in Wukan, Guangdong Province on December 21, 2011. Chinese authorities have agreed to release three villagers detained for leading September protests against land grabs, a community spokesman said after meeting a senior official. ...
Bangkok Post
 - 2 hours ago
Chinese media on Thursday criticised local officials in the country's south for letting a protest over land seizures get out of hand and urged authorities around the country to "put the public first". Villagers listen to a speech by leader Lin Zulian ...

Chinese land protest leader wins party election

Monday 16 January 2012

Morning Star

Villagers in southern China elected protest leader Lin Zulian to the head of their local Communist Party committee on Sunday.

About 1,000 residents of Wukan in Guangdong gathered at a public square and cheered when the results were announced.

Mr Lin united villagers in December against local land grabs.

They mounted a militant protest for over a week after driving out officials who they say stole village land and sold it to developers.

Authorities eventually agreed to release three arrested protest leaders, return the body of a resident who died in police custody, and send a team of provincial officials to investigate the land grabs.

Mr Lin is now helping to organise elections for a new village committee.

Members of the previous committee have been arrested and are under investigation for corruption.

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