Agence France-Presse

Wukan, Chinese village, under police siege: reports

A police roadblock is placed enroute into Wukan, located in southern China. The village is surrounded by police after a land dispute sparked anger, and the death of a community leader prompted protests.
Credit: Peter Parks

The coastal village of Wukan, located in China's Guangdong Province, is now under police siege, according to The New York Times.

This resulted from a September land dispute, when thousands protested for two days against the abrupt government seizure of their agricultural land.

Officials told villagers that the land was sold to developers, but farmers received little to no compensation.

During the demonstrations, police cars were vandalized and government buildings were pillaged. 

Riot police then moved in and restored order.

After, local officials said they would investigate the villagers' accusations.

They were also willing to negotiate with village representatives, who could be elected by the residents themselves.

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Among the 13 chosen was a man named Xue Jinbo, 43.

The Times reported:

"... villagers say the goodwill evaporated earlier this month after a Lufeng County government spokesman condemned the earlier protests as illegal and accused Wukan’s ad hoc leaders of abetting 'overseas forces that want to sow divisions between the government and villagers.' A few days later, residents took to the streets again and staged a sit-in. Last Friday, the authorities responded by sending in a group of plain-clothes policemen who grabbed five of the representatives, including Mr. Xue."

On Monday, villagers learned the Xue had died while in police custody.

According to ABC, officials will not release the body to his family, and they claim that Xue died form a heart attack.

Wukan residents, however, believe he was tortured to death.

In response, they escalated their protests by arming themselves for an "open rebellion against the local Communist party."

Police have sieged the town by fobidding any food or people from coming in or out.

Villagers in Wukan told The Telegraph that they will continue the protests despite being on lockdown, and they have enough food and water for ten days.

Some are also willing to starve themselves for the cause.

A village representative named Yang Semao told The Telegraph that they want the local government "to admit responsibility for the bloodshed when the riot police beat us in September, admit that we have a legal complaint," and "admit that the village representatives are a legal negotiating team."

Semao added that they must return all the land to the villagers so they can split it evenly among everyone. 

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