It Gets Worse 2…

The AP reports:

Armed with guns and shields, hundreds of ri0t p0lice sealed off a southern Chinese village after fatally shooting as many as 10 dem0nstr@t0rs and were searching for the pr0test organizers, villagers said Friday…

…P0lice fired into the crowd and ki11ed a handful of people, mostly men, villagers reached by telephone said Friday. Accounts of the death toll ranged from two and 10, with many missing.

Although security f0rces often use tear gas and truncheons to disperse dem0nstr@t0rs, it is extremely rare for them to fire into a crowd…

…State media have made no mention of the incident and both provincial and local governments have repeatedly refused to comment. This is typical in China, where the ruling Communist Party controls the media and lower-level authorities are leery of releasing information without permission from the central government.

All the villagers said they were nervous and scared and most did not want to be identified for fear of retribution. One man said the situation was still “tumultuous.”

A 14-year-old girl said a local official visited the village on Friday and called the sho0tings “a misunderstanding.”

“He said (he) hoped it wouldn’t become a big issue,” the girl said over the telephone. “This is not a misunderstanding. I am afraid. I haven’t been to school in days.”

She added, “Come save us.”

Another villager said there were at least 10 deaths.

“The ri0t p0lice are gathered outside our village. We’ve been surrounded,” she said, sobbing. “Most of the p0lice are armed. We dare not to go out of our home.”

“We are not allowed to buy food outside the village. They asked the nearby villagers not to sell us goods,” the woman said. “The government did not give us proper compensation for using our land to build the development zone and plants. Now they come and shoot us. I don’t know what to say.”

It will be interesting to hear what sorts of responses come out of the local and central governments. The fact that such uses of force remain rare in China has to be a reflection of central government policy – and one to their credit. With pr0tests on the rise throughout rural China, one wonders if this escalation of force marks a turning point in official policy or is yet another example of a local government running rampant over the r1ghts and lives of its citizens. Coming hard on the heels of the Harbin crisis, will the central government respond in a way that increases confidence? Or instills fear?

UPDATE AP has updated the death toll to “as many as twenty.”

The Discussion: 15 Comments

happy b-day human rights declaration

Agam’s Gecko has a thoroughly good wrap-up of mainstream press coverage of the situation in Dongzhou village, and a birthday message for a toothless document. Happy birthday, Universal Declaration of Human Rights! Today is a big day for you

December 10, 2005 @ 6:15 am | Comment

Although this is a sad incident and the those started shooting and government officals invloved should be punished, some credit should be given to the Chinese police for not using firearms in eariler protests. Remember, ‘protests’ in China sometimes involve:

1) Siege/occupation of police/government headquarters
2) Taking government officials/ police officers hostage
3) Set police/government cars on fire
4) Throwing explosives at the police

I’m not sure how the police will respond if protests like these take place in U.S.

December 10, 2005 @ 11:45 am | Comment

I think generally speaking, using firearms on civillians is absolutely wrong, and the Chinese police should not be exempt from that, though I do agree with you that when the civillians start to attack first and threaten the life of the police, then perhaps it is justified to perhaps stop the civillian, but the police should not go out of his way to hurt the civillian, unless it is uncontrolled.

In any case, this incident highlights that there are still some lack of training in rationally using firearms in the police, and that caused some unneeded undeaths. I hope those policemen and their chiefs will be punished.

December 10, 2005 @ 11:50 am | Comment

I don’t know what would happen if something like that happened in the states. At Kent state 3 people or so died during protests.

I think the thing to keep in mind (here’s the context) is that in the states it’s unlikely to happen, because people protesting never get that disenfranchised or powerless as they are in China. We let them protest. We also let them vote, which calms a lot of people down I think.

If it did happen though, I think it probably wouldn’t be called a protest. It would probably called terrorism. Why? Because there’s no point in storming the police headquarters, etc. because if you want to protest, you are allowed to.

I think this is the critical problem in China at the moment – there is no recourse for protest, and so often senseless violence on one side or the other gets mixed into what could be an otherwise peaceful activity. But if you take all power away from peasants I’m not surprised that they act the way they do.

So how would they deal with it? Well, they’d probably be fired upon with rubber bullets and be confronted by riot police and a lot of tear gas. They’d be arrested, and put through the judicial system.

December 10, 2005 @ 12:20 pm | Comment

Yes, they could use some better training , but incidents like this are bound to take place if violent protests keep happening. There’s always a chance for terrible mistakes to be made when tension is high. The NY Times report give me the impression that villagers may used large firecrackers whose sound could be mistaken for gunshot.

I’m not trying to be an apologist, but in this case, instead of police officers, government officals who called in the armed police should take the greatest responsibility.

December 10, 2005 @ 12:21 pm | Comment

I agree with what you’ve said, Laowai. It’s a wider problem with the government, rather than one with the police. Although I’m afraid if someone are going to be punished at all, they’ll be the police officers, not provincial or city leaders who’re responsible for letting the tension run high.

December 10, 2005 @ 12:33 pm | Comment

Wuliao, I agree with what you’ve said regarding the need to hold the officials accountable.

I think police probably need more training, but with the country so large and with so many other things to attend to, it would be difficult to give courses to the police in non-lethal crowd dispersal.

December 10, 2005 @ 1:34 pm | Comment

There was a report in the Guardian that quoted a witness as saying that the Police used rubber bullets, then the peasants responded with petrol/pipe bombs, and then the Police opened fire with live ammo.

So the peasants may have just believed they were already under attack.

December 10, 2005 @ 2:38 pm | Comment

The Guardian report contained a major error. It stated the People’s Armed Police is a unit of the PLA, while in fact PAP’s independent from PLA and under civil control.

More recent reports also mentioned the day was getting dark when the shoting began. Maybe both sides had misunderstood the other’s intention.

December 10, 2005 @ 3:44 pm | Comment

“when the shoting began” –> “when the shooting began”

December 10, 2005 @ 3:50 pm | Comment

Certainly highlights the need for better communication.

December 10, 2005 @ 4:08 pm | Comment

Police brutality is a problem in the US, too, but at least we have a free press that can film and report on abuses by law enforcement. It is hard to know what really goes on during demonstrations in China since video and photographic evidence is rare.

December 10, 2005 @ 4:17 pm | Comment

On the heels of what laowai and sonagi have said,it was the visual images transported by a free press that both galvanized the country in the civil rights protests in the early 60s and in the response to Kent State during the Viet Nam war. With the actual footage and photographs one could no longer say, that is just hearsay or exaggeration.

This led to the Civil Rights Legislation in the mid 60s; in the case of Kent State, all universities across the country shut down in protest and this contributed to more tolerance of legitimate protest and the eventual pulling out of Viet Nam. The value of a free press and the visual image is inestimable. From one who was involved in both.

December 10, 2005 @ 9:01 pm | Comment

I’ve said this ad nauseum…what makes me most pessimistic about the Hu/Wen regime is their crackdown on the media – and I realize that there are arguments that this is the work of other factions, or that Wen disagrees, or…

But those arguments are increasingly hard to credit. And the media crackdown I believe undermines – perhaps fatally – any efforts by the central government to crack down on local corruption.

December 10, 2005 @ 10:09 pm | Comment

Amen to that Lisa.

December 11, 2005 @ 11:43 pm | Comment

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