Villagers go on the rampage in land row

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 May, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 May, 2007, 12:00am

A municipal work team has been sent to Gurao township, in Shantou, Guangdong, to mediate in a land dispute after villagers ransacked village leaders' houses and took away valuables in protest at what they claimed was land-sale corruption.

Xinxing village party secretary Zhang Yifa said villagers yesterday dropped their plan to protest to higher authorities.

'They can't protest to higher authorities while they are waiting for results from talks with the work team,' Mr Zhang said. 'Officials from the city are mediating [with the township officials] now.'

He said he was lucky yesterday that he dodged villagers who went to his office to 'make trouble ... They have harassed me and other officials for some time,' Mr Zhang said. 'They even ransacked my home several times last month. I complained to police but they have not done anything to investigate.'

One of Mr Zhang's subordinates said some of the villagers demanded to meet party leaders and the work team members when they came to the office. 'They were angry but left after their demands were not met because the work team was meeting the party leaders elsewhere,' he said.

Gurao is a key production base for undergarments. Villagers claim local officials sold their farm land at below market prices to overseas investors and denied them full compensation.

A staff member from the Gurao Township Public Security Bureau said that despite the chaos, no villagers had been arrested. 'I don't know why but no one has been detained.'