Violent clashes over plan for incinerator in Guangzhou

Suspected protest leaders rounded up after four injured in running battles with police as thousands take to the streets of Guangzhou

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 20 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 July, 2013, 4:00am

Riot police rounded up about a dozen people late last night in a raid on Qianjin village, Guangzhou, the site of a planned incinerator, after violent clashes earlier in the day.

Officers moved in hours after police used force to disperse thousands of protesters in Huadu district following a series of running battles. At least four protesters were injured during protests involving as many as 10,000 people at times.

It was the third large-scale rally in two weeks to fight the proposed refuse incinerator in Shiling township, a national hub for leather-goods manufacturing.

Villagers said the riot police who took part in last night's raid were armed with helmets and shields and that they took away suspected leaders of the protest.

Despite a heavy police presence, protesters broke through police barricades at about 11am to enter Huadu Plaza, an open area outside the district government headquarters. They then marched along some of Huadu's busiest roads, bringing traffic to a halt in many areas.

Chanting slogans and waving banners, demonstrators claimed the incinerator would "damage their health" and turn Shiling into a "death zone".

Things got violent after the crowd returned to the Huadu district government headquarters at about 2.30pm and called on district officials to respond to their demands. Some protesters pushed on police lines while others threw water bottles and hit police with sticks.

Police injured at least four men with batons and arrested another man. Two of the injured men appeared to be unconscious and required medical attention.

Protesters lowered the national flag to half-staff outside the government headquarters.

At 5.30pm, police began to use force to disperse the some 2,000 protesters left in the plaza, chasing them with batons. It was cleared by 6pm.

Protesters said the city should learn a lesson from Likeng village in the city's Baiyun district. Residents there complain that the air, ground and water supply have been severely polluted by two incinerators there.

"If we don't keep on fighting, there will be no home to go back to," said a 30-year-old Shiling bag maker. "We don't want to be the next Likeng, move the incinerator elsewhere and work on other ways to reduce garbage."

Such environmental protests have been on the rise across the mainland. The Huadu clashes come just days after large protests in the Guangdong city of Jiangmen forced local officials to cancel plans for a uranium processing plant.

Some of yesterday's protesters said they had been warned not to take part.

Huadu officials announced plans to locate the incinerator in Qianjin village earlier this month. The project is expected to be finalised on August 30, with an environmental assessment ready in February, and construction to start in June next year.