A series of protests took place for seven months up to December 2005 in Dongzhou (东洲), a village in Shanwei prefecture-level city, Guangdong Province, China, organized in opposition to government plans to partially infill the bay and build a new power plant. It resulted in the shooting deaths of several villagers in the night of 6 December 2005 by People's Armed Police. The death toll is unknown, with different sources mentioning anywhere from three to several dozen deaths. The protests resumed in November 2006.
The protests were held because local farmers were dissatisfied with the lack of compensation for land expropriated for the construction of the plant. They are also reportedly concerned with the potential for harmful pollution affecting their crops, while fishermen felt their livelihood would be adversely affected by the modifications to the bay.
According to Xinhua, the Information Office of the government of Shanwei described the incident as "serious violation of law", in which Huang Xijun, Lin Hanru and Huang Xirang led protesters in attacking police with knives, petrol bombs, and other explosive devices. Xinhua reported that the police fired warning shots but, in the confusion after nightfall, people were hit by mistake.
The incident is the first known deadly use of firearms by security forces against civilians in the PRC since the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. The village is still sealed off by government forces who are searching for suspects involved in the violence and preventing people from leaving the village.
The official New China News Agency stated that three people had been killed and eight others injured, but there are other reports that quoted villagers saying as many as 20 people had been killed.
There are reports that local authorities are refusing to return bodies to families, in some cases offering money to villagers instead so that they would stop asking for the bodies. It is also reported that on 9 December, many villagers held incense sticks and knelt in front of police barricades in the village, asking for the bodies of their loved ones for proper burial. They have so far been refused. The South China Morning Post quoted some residents who said that the officials were attempting to hide the death toll. 
On 11 December 2005, the Chinese government announced that a police commander was detained for mishandling the protest and causing deaths and injuries. Ta Kung Pao reported on 13 December that, according to the Shanwei TV Station via Agence France Presse, Wu Sheng, the vice director of the Shanwei Police Department, was placed in criminal detention by procurator bureau for mishandling the event. According to local television via the Washington Post, nine residents were also arrested.
So far, the news has been followed closely by Hong Kong, Taiwan, dissident Chinese, and overseas media, but has received lesser coverage in mainland China media.
In June 2006, the New York Times reported that 19 villagers had been prosecuted for the unrest, 7 being given long sentences for disturbing public order and using explosives against the Police. This was taken to be evidence of the Chinese government covering up the true nature of the shootings. The trial was not widely reported on and locals said that they were constantly being pressured not to talk about what happened in 2005. Construction work resumed on the plant after the protests ended, with no compensation being handed out. No public investigation of the shootings has been carried out either.
In November 2006, the BBC reported that tension was again mounting in Dongzhou. The report stated that residents had taken eight local officials hostage after a villager was detained. Two days later, Radio Free Asia reported that the officials had been released following a dawn raid by police, but more villagers had been detained. Shortly after, a similar event took place at another village in Guangdong, where villagers attempted to detain officials in a dispute over compensation for loss of farm land. Clearly the events in Dongzhou are not an isolated case but part of an ongoing wave of protests against land grabs in China, which Prime Minister Wen Jiabao has acknowledged is an "historic error".
- Human rights in the People's Republic of China
- Siege of Wukan (2011), some 25 km to the northeast
- Tangshan Protest
|Wikinews has related news: Protesting Chinese villagers killed in confrontation with police|
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