Dongzhou protests

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Dongzhou protests
Part of Human rights in the People's Republic of China
Dongzhou (东洲)
Caused byLand grabs in China
Parties to the civil conflict
Local farmers and villagers
Death(s)Unknown; three to several dozen
DetainedPolice commander was detained for mishandling the protest and causing deaths and injuries.
Charged19 villagers have been charged and prosecuted for the unrest, 7 of whom have been given long sentences.

The Dongzhou protests refers to a series of protests that took place for seven months until December 2005 in Dongzhou (东洲), a village in Shanwei prefecture, Guangdong Province, China. The protests were 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.[1]

Local villagers denied these accounts, reported that the protesters may have used ordinary fireworks as part of their protest. Villagers also alleged that the authorities had "enlisted thugs from local organized crime groups to help put down the demonstration" in addition to regular security forces.[2]

The village was sealed off by government forces who are searching for suspects involved in the violence and preventing people from leaving the village.[needs update?]


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. [2]


On 11 December 2005, the Chinese government announced that a police commander was detained for mishandling the protest and causing deaths and injuries.[3] 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.[3] According to local television via The Washington Post, nine residents were also arrested.[4]

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.[5] 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.[6] 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.[7] Clearly the events in Dongzhou are not an isolated case but part of an ongoing wave of protests against land grabs in China,[8][9] which Prime Minister Wen Jiabao has acknowledged is an "historic error".[10]

See also[edit]


  • "Chinese protesters report a massacre". International Herald Tribune. 9 December 2005.
  • "Chinese police 'shoot protesters'". BBC News. 7 December 2005.
  • "China official held over shooting". BBC News. 11 December 2005.
  • "Police commander detained after deadly protest". MSNBC. 11 December 2005.
  • "Beijing imposes news blackout on Dongzhou shootings"IFEX, 20 December 2005.
  • "China Covers Up Violent Suppression of Village Protest" - The New York Times, 27 June 2006


  1. ^ "新华网广东频道 - 广东省汕尾市红海湾开发区发生严重违法事件". 11 December 2005. Archived from the original on 14 February 2013. Retrieved 28 July 2013.
  2. ^ "Protesters Say Police in China Killed Up to 20". The New York Times. 10 December 2005. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
  3. ^ [1] Archived 15 December 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Pan, Philip P. (14 December 2005). "China Wavers on Police Shooting". Retrieved 28 July 2013.
  5. ^ "Tense standoff in China village, BBC, 17 November, 2006". BBC News. 19 November 2006. Retrieved 28 July 2013.
  6. ^ "News Blackout in Dongzhou as Clampdown Continues, RFA, 19 November, 2006". Retrieved 28 July 2013.
  7. ^ "Villagers Detained, Hostages Released in South China Land Clash, RFA, 30 November, 2006". 2 June 2013. Retrieved 28 July 2013.
  8. ^ Cody, Edward (5 October 2004). "China's Land Grabs Raise Specter of Popular Unrest, Washington Post, 5 Oct 2004". Retrieved 28 July 2013.
  9. ^ "China village fury at land grab, BBC Online, 10 Nov 2006". BBC News. 10 November 2006. Retrieved 28 July 2013.
  10. ^ Saltzstein, Dan. "In China, a warning on illegal land grabs, International Herald Tribune, 20 January, 2006". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 28 July 2013.

External links[edit]