Wukan leader tells of detention
One of three leaders of the protests in a Guangdong village over illegal land grabs was freed from police detention yesterday, hours before deputy Guangdong party chief Zhu Mingguo paid a visit to the village.
Zhang Jiancheng, 26, was arrested in Wukan two weeks ago along with Xue Jinbo. They were taken to a Shanwei detention centre together in handcuffs. Xue died in police custody two days later. Villagers believe police brutality is to blame but police say he died of a heart attack.
Zhang was released after a deal was reached at a meeting between village leader Lin Zuluan and Zhu in Lufeng on Wednesday.
Zhu, Shanwei party chief Zheng Yanxiong and a dozen other officials visited Wukan in the afternoon and were greeted by villagers waving small national flags and chanting 'welcome' and 'fair judge' as they made their way to the village committee office.
Zhang said he had been released on bail and warned to refrain from speaking to the media. He said the other two protest leaders, Zhuang Liehong and Hong Ruichao, had not been released because they refused to sign statements admitting to any wrongdoing.
The release of the three protest leaders was part of the deal between the government and Wukan villagers.
'Xue Jinbo and I arrived at Shanwei detention centre at 1.30pm on December 9,' Zhang said. 'I was subjected to 31 1/2 hours of straight integration and deprived of sleep. I was not allowed to sleep until 10.30pm on December 10. My eyes were all blurry when I was sent back to my cell.
'It was the most painful experience. I couldn't bear to be put through it but they told me many had to endure six to seven days of interrogation if they refused to come clean. Even a young man like me almost didn't make it through such a harsh interrogation; Xue might have died suddenly after interrogation.'
Zhang said he was forced to sit on a chair while two to three interrogators worked on five-hour shifts, waking him every time he fell asleep. Xue, 42, was interrogated earlier and had been returned to his cell, he said.
'Before he went in [to his cell], he tried to turn around and talk to me but was stopped,' Zhang said. 'I was in cell 28, which is near the exit, and he was in cell 24. I was not sure if he was beaten in the cell. Around 11pm on December 11, I heard four loud kicks on his cell door and he was carried out by four guys. I yelled his name loudly dozens of times - 'brother Bo, brother Bo' - but he didn't respond. That was when I suspected he might have been dead.'
During his visit, Zhu listened to villagers' complaints about illegal land deals and reiterated his earlier promises to them, saying most of their appeals were reasonable. Villagers would not be held responsible for their earlier actions, the freedom of their negotiators would be ensured and Xue's family would be treated properly.
'We will also be transparent in handling the investigation, according to laws and regulations,' Zhu said.