Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The talk of China these days is a village in Guangdong province, where the mayor is using violence to put down demands for a recall election:

The villagers sought to exercise the rights enshrined in China's village democracy statutes, which allow them to petition for the recall of the elected local village head. They were angered by the lack of consultation surrounding the 133-hectare land development project, and also made allegations of corruption and the embezzlement of local funds.

After securing the required number of signatures and submitting the petition calling for the recall of village Party Committee chairman Chen Jinling at the end of July, the villagers became subject to reprisals from gangs hired by the local government. The intimidation and arrest of residents escalated into a series of bitter protests and violent crackdowns.

The Beijing-based human rights lawyer, Guo Feixiong, was arrested last week after serving as the legal representative of Taishi residents in the attempt to remove Chen Jinling. Guo is now believed to be on a hunger strike.

The national government knows exactly what to do in cases like this: try to kill the story.

A popular online forum was forced to shut down all discussion of Taishi, then later the whole forum website got shut down.

Foreign reporters who showed up at the village have been beaten; one activist who was serving as a guide to a Guardian correspondant was beaten to within an inch of his life.

They don't want people talking about this. I guess I'm not much good at following directions.


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