Guangxi protesters demand Beijing aid gold miners caught in Ghana
Hundreds of residents took to the streets of Shanglin county, Guangxi, yesterday to demand the central government help relatives in Ghana after a series of attacks and looting targeting Chinese gold miners.
Protesters began to gather outside the county government office building at 10am, holding placards and banners with slogans such as "Violent crackdown against Chinese in Ghana, Chinese nationals have been robbed" and "Lack of action by the Chinese embassy in Ghana".
Thousands plan to travel to the capital of the autonomous region, Nanning , today to protest outside the regional government building.
A protester from the town of Mingliang said: "We are devastated these days whenever we receive long-distance calls from our relatives in Ghana. Thousands of them are now in danger of being robbed and attacked by local gangsters, robbers and even armed policemen."
Ghanaian authorities have detained over 160 Chinese in a crackdown on illegal mining and Chinese have since become the target of looting and attacks by locals because they are known for their wealth from gold mining.
Most of the illegal gold prospectors in Ghana are Chinese - an estimated 50,000 of them, with most from Shanglin county.
Francis Palmdeti, head of public affairs for the Immigration Service in Ghana, said some of those detained held residential permits that had expired, Bloomberg reported. "Repatriation will start once the migrants or the Chinese embassy pays for transportation costs," he said.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Beijing was liaising with the Ghanaian government and Chinese officials had visited and sent daily necessities and medical assistance to the detained, none of whom had been injured.
"We urged the authorities to stop Chinese citizens from being robbed and ensure their security and legal rights," Hong said.
The Chinese embassy would send officials on a fact-finding mission to the area, he added.
However, Shanglin county residents said several families had been told that their sons had been shot dead or severely injured since Sunday by armed robbers and gangsters. The Ghanaian government was not available for comment last night.
"From Sunday, I received at least 50 calls each day from Chinese nationals in Ghana for emergency help," said Su Zhenyu , secretary general of the Chinese Mining Association in Ghana. "According to the calls, at least five Chinese nationals have been shot dead in Kumasi, Obuasi and Dunkwa in the Ashanti region of Ghana."
He said it was difficult to keep a record of the toll because many Chinese mine workers were hiding in forests and local villages and had lost contact with their compatriots. Su said many Chinese wanted to return home, but they needed help from the central government to do so.
"There are too many robberies on those roads between Ghana's capital and mining sites," he said. "Many of the Chinese have been robbed, beaten and even shot on the way to the airport.
"Local gangsters target everyone who looks Asian, no matter whether you are a mine worker or own a restaurant."
A protester from Mingliang said: "More than half of the young men from Mingliang are in Ghana now. Fourteen male family members of mine are there. We're sorry we sent them to Ghana for illegal mining. But we beg the central government to help bring them home."