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Police seal off south China village after clashes

BEIJING (Reuters) - Armed police have sealed off a village in southern China after violent clashes with residents that rights group Amnesty International said marked the first time Chinese police had fired on protesters since 1989.

Residents said riot police had opened fire on Tuesday on protesters in the village of Dongzhou in Guangdong province after they moved in to quell demonstrations over lack of compensation for land lost to a wind power plant.

Estimates from residents and rights groups put the number of dead between two and 20.
"Now the authorities are coming to the village to detain people," said one villager, adding his brother was among those shot dead during the demonstrations.
"My parents and my sister-in-law are kneeling in front of the house to ask the government officials to explain the killing," he said in a telephone interview.
He put the number of dead at more than 10 and said bodies were lying in the villagers' houses.
China's Communist Party has a monopoly on power and brooks no dissent but protests are becoming increasingly common, sparked by disputes over land rights, corruption and a growing gap between rich and poor.
Many of the protests turn violent, but Amnesty said police opening fire marked an ugly turn.
"Police used guns on protestors the last time in 1989," said Chine Chan, East Asia Campaigner for Amnesty International, referring to China's military... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Residents said riot police had opened fire on Tuesday on protesters in the village of Dongzhou in Guangdong province after they moved in to quell demonstrations over lack of compensation for land lost to a wind power plant.

Estimates from residents and rights groups put the number of dead between two and 20.
"Now the authorities are coming to the village to detain people," said one villager, adding his brother was among those shot dead during the demonstrations.
"My parents and my sister-in-law are kneeling in front of the house to ask the government officials to explain the killing," he said in a telephone interview.
He put the number of dead at more than 10 and said bodies were lying in the villagers' houses.
China's Communist Party has a monopoly on power and brooks no dissent but protests are becoming increasingly common, sparked by disputes over land rights, corruption and a growing gap between rich and poor.
Many of the protests turn violent, but Amnesty said police opening fire marked an ugly turn.
"Police used guns on protestors the last time in 1989," said Chine Chan, East Asia Campaigner for Amnesty International, referring to China's military crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators.
"There is lack of guidance from the central government about what kind of force is allowed to be used," she said.
Chan added that many young men from the village had fled to avoid being arrested.
"We call on the central government to investigate what's going on there," Chan said. "Freedom of assembly and freedom of expression are fundamental human rights that should not be cracked down on in any way."
LAND DISPUTE
The Dongzhou dispute has centred on compensation for land taken to build a wind farm in the area, which lies on the east coast of the province along the South China Sea close to the financial hub of Hong Kong.
Residents said compensation allocated by the government was appropriated by officials.
Amnesty said protests had been going on since September, with villagers complaining of forced evictions, and some fishermen worried the plant could affect their livelihood.
A government official in the administrative centre of Shanwei said armed police had been sent into the area but that the violence was started by the villagers, who attacked police with pipe bombs.
"This is a society ruled by law. How can we let this kind of thing happen?" said the official, who gave his surname as Cai.
Residents said there were thousands of armed police in the area, blocking roads and detaining those suspected of involvement in the protests.
"A lot of families have moved away from the village. We are all very scared. At night, nobody dares go out," said another villager.
U.S. broadcaster Radio Free Asia said armed police had sealed roads into the area and that people were not allowed to enter or leave.
(Additional reporting by Vivi Lin

Source: http://www.swissinfo.org/se...

DEC 9 2005
http://www.windaction.org/posts/650-police-seal-off-south-china-village-after-clashes
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