Letter seeks release of Taishi residents held after trying to oust their director Dissidents have launched a signature campaign to press the National People's Congress and top leaders to investigate the Panyu government's role in the blocking of Taishi villagers' attempt to oust their director. An open letter, which collected 30 signatures within hours, including those of dissidents Liu Xiaobo and Zhao Dagong and lawyer Teng Biao, also calls for a probe into the beating of a Hubei lawmaker who helped the villagers. It will be handed to President Hu Jintao , Premier Wen Jiabao and NPC chairman Wu Bangguo before the legislature sits next spring. The letter also sought the immediate release of activist Yang Maodong , who is better known as Guo Feixiong , and Feng Qiusheng , a leader of the campaign, from detention. The party committee and government of Panyu, a district of Guangzhou, made a 'fundamental mistake' by stating that the 'Taishi Democracy Incident' disrupted social order when it had nothing to do with stability, the letter said. 'The villagers only wanted two things - to have a public audit of village accounts and recall their village director,' it said. The dissidents said they suspected Panyu officials were guilty of dereliction of duty and violating the democratic and personal rights of citizens after the beating of lawyer Guo Yan and Zhijiang People's Congress representative Lu Banglie , and the detention of Mr Yang and Mr Feng. They also suspected corruption was involved, saying Taishi village had an annual income of 30 million yuan but its 2,000 villagers were paid an average of 600 yuan each year when they should have received 7,500 yuan, even after providing for a generous 50 per cent share of earnings for the local government. The dissidents urged the nation's legislative, judicial and law-enforcement organs to give Taishi villagers legal protection, and asked for a team to be set up to investigate the allegations. More than 500 Taishi residents signed a petition at the end of July calling for the removal of village director Chen Jingsheng for alleged corruption, a request that Panyu's Civil Affairs Bureau initially rejected and then approved. But on September 12, before removal proceedings could go ahead, the local government sent 1,000 police to seize account books the villagers were guarding to prove their allegations. By the end of September, after the detention of Mr Yang and Mr Feng and several others, the government said villagers had abandoned the petition. The local government has accused another villager leader, Liang Shusheng , an elected work-brigade leader, of stirring up trouble because he was not able to get the village committee's support to honour his own election pledges.