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Home » Government » Open Letter to the Chinese Government and the World Media About the Suppression of Wukan

Open Letter to the Chinese Government and the World Media About the Suppression of Wukan

Zhuang Liehong, November 23, 2016

“Wukan is a big prison now. Scores of villagers have been detained, including my father. Police patrol the streets and roads, and life is difficult.” – Wukan villager Zhuang Liehong

 

wukan-protest-zhuang-liehong

Zhang Liehong arrived early on November 23 to protest on behalf of his village. A U. S.-China trade delegation is here for talks led by Wang Yang (汪洋), who presided over the first Wukan crackdown in 2011.

 

Wukan, a fishing village in eastern Guangdong Province, occupies an area of about 5,765 acres and has a population of 13,000. Since 1993, corrupt officials have conspired with businessmen to secretly sell off the collectively-owned, arable village land, and pocket the proceeds.

This led to large-scale petitions and protests to defend villagers’ rights from 2009 to 2011. As they fought for their land and for democracy in their village, Wukan residents were faced with extreme hardship, and the local government did everything it could — including plots and conspiracies — to deny and block these demands. In 2011, the authorities launched a crackdown on the village, and a number of the key villagers involved in defending their rights, including myself, were arrested. Xue Jinbo (薛锦波) was treated particularly cruelly, and died in prison.

Under the gaze of international media, then-Party chief of Guangdong Province (and current Politburo member and vice premier), Wang Yang (汪洋), made a show of goodwill, sending Zhu Mingguo (朱明国), then-vice Party secretary of Guangdong, to the village to ease tensions, affirm that the villagers’ demands were legitimate, and promise that the demands would be met. Now, however, it appears that all this was simply the government buying time while the world was watching.

 

wukan-protest-stop-the-car

Zhang Liehong and fellow protesters stopped a vehicle of the Chinese delegation on Constitution Avenue. Chinese officials inside covered their faces with briefcases. Shamed?

 

In 2012, after Wukan formed its own democratically-elected village committee, the government used a range of methods to sow discord among villagers, erode the bonds of trust between them, lay traps for the most active village rights defense activists, and manipulate and control public opinion. Four years on, the government has put overwhelming emphasis on “stability maintenance” (meaning police and other security forces), and has not met any of the villagers’ demands for the return of the stolen land. Between 2012 and 2016, the authorities arrested one villager, (Zhang Dejia [张德家]), and sentenced three others — Hong Ruichao (洪锐潮), Yang Semao (杨色茂), and Lin Zuluan (林祖銮) — to prison.

In order to avoid the same fate, I fled to the United States on January 27, 2014, and applied for political asylum. For 85 days between June 19 and September 12, 2016, Wukan villagers organized daily protest marches through the streets, with about 4,000 participants every day.

On September 13, they were violently suppressed by thousands of riot police.

wukan-xuejinbo

Xue Jinbo (薛锦波), one of the leaders of Wukan uprising in 2011, died after two days in custody.

At about 3 a.m. on September 13, a battalion of armed police moved on the village, raiding houses and arresting 13 villagers that the government considered to be the most high-profile, including my father, Zhuang Songkun (庄松坤). Come dawn, thousands of fully-armed People’s Armed Police locked down village street intersections, dividing the crowd and then crushing the protest. They fired countless rounds of rubber bullets, and volleyed canisters of tear gas and shock grenades into the unarmed villagers. Then they began surrounding and violently beating villagers, without regard to whether they were old, women, or children. Faced with this violent, armed suppression, villagers resorted to throwing rocks and bricks. Hundreds of villagers were injured during the conflict, and reports indicate that an old woman died after being shot twice with rubber bullets. Nearly 100 villagers are believed to have been arrested.

Following the incident a large number of armed police, SWAT teams, and plainclothes officers installed themselves on practically every street corner in the village, even organizing patrols along the thoroughfares and back alleys. They severed internet access to block news about what happened from getting out, and stopped Hong Kong and international media from getting in. While all this was taking place, official media published gravely false reports about the suppression of the village. In the nearly three months since then, Wukan has become one big prison. Heavily armed riot police patrol the streets and alleys, members of the village Party committee act as spies, and the arbitrary arrest of villagers continues.

image1-4

“Wang Yang killed Xue Jinbo.”

There are multiple indications that the violent suppression of Wukan this time was carried out on the direct orders of the Guangdong provincial government. Reports say that the vice-secretary of Guangdong was commanding the suppression from the nearby city of Lufeng (陆丰市), and that the thousands of riot and SWAT police deployed had been mobilized from the Huizhou Military District (惠州军区). The only one authorized to bring this level of force to bear is the current Guangdong Party secretary, Hu Chunhua (胡春华), so I’m positive that the violent suppression of Wukan was ordered by him.

On September 19, activist Yao Cheng (姚诚), a friend, and I were on our way to the United Nations headquarters in New York City to protest, when we were accosted and harassed by over a dozen men in identical black suits and blue raincoats — apparently national security agents from Chinese premier Li Keqiang’s (李克强) security detail. After we all got into an argument, one of the men took an open letter I handed to him, addressed to the Chinese Consul General in New York. We proceeded to the designated area at the UN and held our protest as planned. The following morning, however, I was shocked to receive a telephone call from the Lufeng public security bureau, who had detained my father, and were forcing him to tell me to keep quiet. On the one hand I was so glad to be in America, yet also realized that my right to express myself freely here is still limited by the Chinese authorities, and my own personal safety is even put at risk.

image1-5

“Hold Hu Chunhua accountable.” The current Party secretary in Guangdong province, Hu presided over the brutal crackdown on Wukan in 2016.

Wukan is still fraught with tension and conflict: the villagers have had two thirds of their land stolen from them, and this already put their basic livelihood under enormous pressure. Now, the entire area has been turned into a jail. So many villagers have been badly injured and arrested, which is another severe blow. Many families don’t even have the money to pay for proper medical treatment, and now rely on relatives from nearby villages to send them rations just so they can survive.

For all these reasons, I make the following demands of the Chinese authorities:

I. Cease the suppression and detention of Wukan villagers;

II. Release Lin Zuluan, Hong Ruichao, Yang Semao, Wei Yonghan (魏永汉), Zhang Xiangkang (张向坑), Yang Jinzhen (杨锦贞), Yang Shaoji (杨少集), Liu Hanchai (刘汉钗), Hong Yongzhong (洪永忠), Zhuang Songkun, Lin Desheng (林德升) and all other Wukan villagers who sought to defend their legal rights to the village land, and release the body — or, if still alive, the person — of the 80-year-old grandmother who was shot twice at close range with rubber bullets and reportedly killed;

III. Arrange for the immediate medical care of the roughly 100 villagers who were severely injured by riot police, and who are now hiding in their homes attempting to recover;

IV. Return the stolen land to Wukan village;

V. Hold accountable the chief culprit that orchestrated the violent suppression of peaceful Wukan villagers on September 13: Guangdong Party Secretary Hu Chunhua.

Wukan villager Zhuang Liehong (庄烈宏)
Washington, D.C.
November 22, 2016


乌坎村民庄烈宏

 就乌坎镇压致汪洋和国际媒体的公开信

 

乌坎,是一个位于中国广东省东部的自然渔村,拥有土地面积约3.5万亩;人口1.3万。自1993年起,官商勾结暗中盗卖我乌坎村集体土地(耕地)资源,从而引发自2009年至2011年乌坎村集体上访和与当局政府的维权抗争。乌坎村人民在争取土地和民主途中所遇极其困难,政府以各种形式和阴谋阻止乌坎实现诉求。2011年政府对乌坎村进行镇压,包括我本人在内的几名维权首要村民被抓捕,薛锦波更在被捕后惨死狱中。在国际媒体的关注下,时任广东省委书记汪洋政府释出善意,特派时任省副书记朱明国进村平息民愤,承认乌坎村民的诉求是合法的,并承诺解决乌坎诉求。现在看来这只是政府面对国际舆论的一个暂时让步而已。

在2012年乌坎成立民选村委会后,政府利用各种手段,对牵头维权的村民布局陷阱,分化村民之间的信任关系,控制舆论自由等。4年以来当局以维稳为重,并未兑现乌坎村民的土地诉求。在2012年至2016年间,当局分别逮捕和判处一名村民(张德家)和三名维权领导人徒刑(洪锐潮、杨色茂和林祖銮)。我本人为了躲避迫害而于2014年1月27来到美国寻求政治庇护。2016年6月19日至9月12日共85天期间,村民自发每天在乌坎村道游行抗议,每天参与人数4千多人,直至9月13日乌坎村遭几千警力暴力镇压。

9月13日凌晨3点钟大批武装部队分别同时入屋抓捕13名政府认为在游行抗议中比较高调的村民,当中包括本人的父亲(庄松坤)。天亮后几千名全武装武警部队分别封锁村各个路口,并对我乌坎村人民进行切割式镇压,对村民展开无数次橡胶子弹枪射击、投放催泪弹和震撼弹,镇压中没有顾忌地对老人、村妇、孩童等实施围殴等暴力手段。面对全武装的军警镇压,手无寸铁的村民以路边砖块还击,事发中造成几百名村民身受重伤,拟似一名老太太身中两枪死亡。70多名村民在对峙中被捕。

事后,大批武警、特警和便衣警察在通往村里的每个路口、乃至村内的大街小巷布防和巡逻,同时切断网络,封锁现场消息流出,以及阻止香港和世界各地的境外记者进村采访。与此同时,国内官方媒体对乌坎镇压做了严重失实的报道。自九月以来的三个多月以来,乌坎村如同一个大监狱,村中大街小巷每天都有全副武装的武警分批巡逻,村党总支部人员充当间谍,当局对村民的任意抓捕行为仍在继续中。

各种迹象表明,此次对乌坎村的镇压是由广东省政府下令。据悉广东副省长坐镇陆丰市政府指挥,几千名镇压乌坎村的武警、特警由广东省惠州军区调遣,然而能行驶这等权利者唯有广东省现任省委书记(胡春华)。因此我肯定对此次乌坎暴力镇压是胡春华所为。

9月19日,我与姚诚先生以及一名好友前往纽约联合国总部前举标语抗议的途中,受到十几名身穿统一黑色西装和蓝色雨衣、貌似李克强跟从的国保人士的阻挠。在与他们一番争吵后,其中一人接过了我的一封《致中国驻纽约领事馆公开信》。 随后我们按计划前往纽约联合国总部前的示威区域举标语抗议。没想到第二天早上我即收到陆丰公安局人员打来电话,让在看守所中的父亲劝我封口。我庆幸自己来到了美国,然而虽然身在美国,但自由表达权利仍然受中国当局干扰,甚至感到人身安全受到威胁。

乌坎如今是一个千疮百孔的村庄。乌坎人民因无法追回近两万亩失地,本来已面临巨大的生存压力,如今更是活在一个大监狱中。许多村民受伤和被捕,导致经济严重受创,很多家庭无法给伤者提供正常治疗,甚至靠向外村亲戚借口粮维持生存。

诉求1:停止镇压、停止看守乌坎人民。

诉求2:释放林祖恋、洪锐潮、杨色茂、魏永汉、蔡加磷、张向坑、杨锦贞、杨少集、刘汉钗、洪永忠、庄松坤、林德升等所有参与土地维权的乌坎村民,归还对乌坎镇压中拟似受两枪近距离橡胶子弹射击至死的80岁老奶奶(钱秀香)的尸体,或释放其人。

诉求3:帮助治疗对乌坎镇压中100多名身受重伤的村民及其家庭度过难关。

诉求4:归还乌坎村被盗卖的土地。

诉求5:问责9月13日暴力镇压乌坎人民的刽子手——广东省委书记胡春华。

乌坎村民:庄烈宏

发于:华盛顿D.C.

2016年11月22日


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