50 led away by police in new clash over express link

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 January, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 January, 2011, 12:00am

About 50 Tsoi Yuen villagers and supporters were taken away by police and security guards during the latest clashes over the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong high-speed rail line yesterday.

Around 100 protesters comprising villagers and activists gathered in the morning to obstruct workers at two sites in the village involved in the controversial project.

One clash came as workers tried to build a sheet-metal wall around an office at one of the sites. Protesters climbed onto the structure, resulting in 200 officers from the police tactical unit being deployed to remove them. Earlier, police clashed with another group of protesters who tried to break through a police line.

Officers and security guards took about two hours to clear the protesters before work on the wall continued.

It was the latest in a series of stand-offs between protesters and police and security guards over the past week. Last Tuesday, 400 police officers were called in to disperse about 30 protesters who tried to stop workers moving villagers out of their homes.

Protest organiser Yip Bo-lam, a member of Tsoi Yuen Village Concern Group, said the villagers were not refusing to move, but wanted the government to step into a dispute over a new link road, as well as reasonable compensation for lost farm produce for two households.

She said the villagers could not build new homes at a site they had bought because a section of the road linked to the site was owned by a representative of another village, who would not let them use it. 'We will continue our protest,' she said.

One supporter suffered slight injuries and was treated by a private doctor, while a police spokesman said no injures were reported.

A tearful villager, Ko Chun-heung, said: 'We totally understand the workers' situation and we are thankful for their tolerance. This is not a conflict between members of the grass roots. I hope the MTR and the government can solve this.'

A Transport and Housing Bureau spokesman said it was regretted that the villagers had not cooperated with the moving plans. He said the protesters who trespassed into the construction site were posing risks to themselves and others. Their irresponsiblebehaviour and interference had resulted in the contractor stepping up security so that work could continue. He urged them to observe the law.