Farmers torch trucks, fight police in dispute over land reparations

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 January, 2008, 12:00am

Thousands of farmers in Shunde district , Foshan , overturned and burned at least 10 trucks last week in a protest over compensation for land appropriated to erect high-voltage electricity pylons.

About 2,000 residents of Renhai village, near the town of Leliu, gathered at 9am to stop migrant workers from putting up the pylons on their land on December 26, an official from the village's party committee said yesterday.

Nearly 2,000 riot police were sent to the scene, he added.

'The armed police were initially sent to maintain order,' said the official, who refused to be identified. 'But some protesters were so angry that they overturned and burned 10 trucks.

'They also scuffled with the police and government staff.

'At least five or six officials were injured and sent to hospital, but no villagers were hurt.' The protesters apparently dispersed by 11am.

The official also denied rumours that a village leader had absconded with a large amount of money.

'They are just disappointed with the reimbursement and did not agree with the plan to build power cables over their land,' he said. 'They are worried the radiation generated would have an adverse effect on their health, just like previous cases in nearby Panyu district.'

In late 2004, thousands of people living in Guangzhou's Panyu district complained that electricity cables were too close to their homes and that the radiation could cause cancer rates to triple.

The Shunde district authorities had ordered the cable project to resume tomorrow, the official said.

An officer from Leliu's Public Security Bureau said he had no knowledge of the clash and did not know which department in his bureau was in charge of the case.