'Beaten villagers' claim sparks clashes in village destined for demolition

Protest in one of province's last urban villages turns tense amid allegations of violence

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 24 May, 2013, 5:32am

Villagers from Xian village, the last urban village in central Guangzhou which is now being demolished, yesterday tore down walls erected by developers after a four-hour stand-off with about 200 police.

The protest was sparked by allegations that security guards hired by the area's developer had beaten up two villagers.

Six men with wooden batons and water pipes...bashed him unconscious
Xian villager

Hundreds of residents of the village, in the Tianhe district of the city, blocked Huangpu Road at around 6pm. After they were persuaded to return, 200 remained at its entrance in a stand-off with police, demanding that the government hand over the attackers.

Witnesses said Lu Runtian , 45, and his sister were beaten up by security guards, whom they referred to as "thugs", yesterday afternoon after complaining that bulldozers had blocked the way to Lu's home.

Security guards have been posted in the village since the demolition project began.

"I saw Lu running towards us looking very angry, saying he had been beaten," one villager said. "He then found a spade and ran back to the thugs, so we followed him. By the time we got there, I saw him being chased by more than 10 thugs.

"He then tripped and fell over and five or six men with wooden batons and water pipes immediately surrounded him and bashed him unconscious."

Li suffered broken ribs and was knocked out for a brief time, while his sister suffered minor head injuries.

The villagers dispersed at around 10pm but proceeded to tear down a wall, allegedly built illegally by the developer last year, that surrounds the village.

Yesterday's incident was the worst since August 2010, when hundreds of villagers clashed with the police.

Over the past three years, Xian village has come under the wrecking ball like many other urban villages as part of a Guangzhou government plan to clear all slum areas and improve the city's image. Villagers have accused local officials of colluding with developers by selling their land below the market price.

More than 1,000 households, who owned about 74 per cent of the building blocks in Xian village, have signed demolition agreement, but another 300 in possession of 516 buildings are demanding more compensation.