Tear gas, rubber bullets fired as Chinese riot police clash with villagers after Wukan arrests

Village was the centre of protests against land seizures and its leader Lin Zuluan was jailed last week on corruption charges

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 September, 2016, 10:41am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 September, 2016, 5:57am

Villagers have clashed with riot police in Wukan in southern China after officers forced their way into homes in the remote fishing village and arrested more than a dozen villagers early on Tuesday.

The arrests came after the village leader Lin Zuluan, who headed protests against land seizures, was jailed last week on corruption charges.

Villagers were injured by rubber bullets and tear gas shells were seen scattered on the ground, according to witnesses and video footage obtained by the South China Morning Post.

Some villagers were also seen throwing stones at the police in one video clip.

Villagers said the village was now controlled by the authorities and everybody wanting to enter or leave had to go through ID checks.

The public security bureau in Lufeng in Guangdong province announced on Tuesday morning that police had arrested 13 suspects from Wukan for allegedly disturbing public order.

Wukan protest leader ‘admits’ bribery as Hong Kong media outlets accused of ‘inciting’ the demonstrations

“As of June 19, lawbreakers including villagers of Wukan under Lufeng city’s Donghai township, Cai Jialin, Zhang Xiangkeng and Yang Jinzhen continued to fabricate rumours and deploy measures such as threats, insults, force and bribes to instigate, to plan and to launch illegal mass gatherings,” the statement said.

“This has disturbed public order including local traffic, school, fishery production and the business of local shops, posing a negative social influence,” the statement added.

Villagers in southern China defy warnings and press ahead with demonstration to demand chief’s release

“Despite repeated lecturing and warnings, Cai, Zhang and Yang as well as several others continued to ignore the law.”

Wukan villagers said riot police stormed into Wukan at about 3am before breaking into homes around an hour later to make arrests.

Photographs posted by villagers showed their homes’ metal gates broken or torn down during the raids.

Chinese lawyers say judicial officials barred them from advising Wukan protest chief

“This has become utterly lawless. Using tear gas and rubber bullets against unarmed civilians? The government of China serves the people or itself?” said one villager who refused to be named for fear of reprisals.

Villagers began a stand-off with riot police after sunrise, with bricks thrown and rounds of tear gas fired.

Photographs and videos posted by villagers appeared to show residents injured by rubber bullets.

The pictures showed villagers heads and hands covered in blood.

Wukan: a village living in fear following arrest of party chief

Multiple witnesses confirmed that one elderly woman was taken to hospital for treatment after she was injured during the violence.

Wukan attracted media coverage around the world five years ago after villagers staged a series of protests against land seizures to make way for development in the area.