‘Rebel’ vil­lagers jailed

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Nine res­i­dents of the Chi­nese “rebel” vil­lage of Wukan have been jailed for “dis­rupt­ing social or­der” af­ter Septem­ber protests against of­fi­cials turned vi­o­lent, lead­ing po­lice to shut down the set­tle­ment and im­pose a media black­out. Wukan, a 13,000-strong fish­ing vil­lage in the south­ern prov­ince of Guang­dong, be­came a sym­bol of re­sis­tance against cor­rup­tion af­ter a mass up­ris­ing over al­legedly il­le­gal land grabs pro­pelled it onto global front pages in 2011.

Last Septem­ber lo­cal po­lice de­tained 13 res­i­dents for “dis­turb­ing pub­lic or­der”, a move that trig­gered mass protests in the vil­lage, in­clud­ing clashes with the po­lice who quickly put the area on lock­down. Now nine vil­lagers have been jailed for be­tween two and ten years for stag­ing an un­law­ful assem­bly, pa­rade and de­mon­stra­tion which “se­verely dis­rupted social or­der” and for dis­sem­i­nat­ing false in­for­ma­tion, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment posted Mon­day on the web­site of the Peo­ple’s Court of Haifeng. “The cir­cum­stances were so se­ri­ous that man­u­fac­tures and busi­ness could not op­er­ate and se­vere losses were caused,” the state­ment said. Other charges in­cluded dis­turb­ing pub­lic trans­port and dis­rupt­ing pub­lic ser­vices. Sev­eral of the nine were among the 13 vil­lage res­i­dents de­tained in Septem­ber.

The ar­rests and demon­stra­tions that month fol­lowed the jail­ing of vil­lage chief Lin Zu­lian, who played a key role in the 2011 protests. He was sen­tenced to three years in prison af­ter con­fess­ing to ac­cept­ing bribes worth some $590,000 Yuan ($90,000), the of­fi­cial Xin­hua news agency re­ported. The 2011 protests in Wukan were ini­tially seen as just an­other bout of social un­rest in China, where tens of thou­sands of such in­ci­dents oc­cur each year. But when a protest leader died in po­lice cus­tody, res­i­dents stepped up their demon­stra­tions, bar­ri­cad­ing roads into Wukan, and ef­fec­tively ex­pelling se­cu­rity forces for more than a week. — AFP

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