China : Thousands Mourn Land Protester
Thousands of people gathered in the besieged Guangdong village of Wukan on Friday to mourn a fellow protester who died last week amid fierce clashes between police and an embattled farming community furious over alleged official corruption and the sale of their land."There were more than 5,000 people here," said a resident surnamed Zhuang who attended the memorial rally for fellow villager Xue Jinbo, who died in police custody last week after being arrested for inciting local people to protest.Xue's death was blamed on a heart attack by the government, and an official autopsy found "no visible signs of external force" on the body. But Xue's relatives have rejected the finding, saying his body was covered from head to toe in bruises when they went to a morgue in the nearby city of Shanwei to identify it.
The authorities moved in recent days to block online content related to the Wukan protest, although similar protests have erupted in nearby Longtou village over similar issues.
Xue's death followed several weeks of highly organized and vocal demonstrations. Thousands of villagers protested in Donghai township, near Guangdong's Lufeng city in October, complaining about abuse of power by local officials and calling for fair elections.
Wukan's farming community says it wants action taken over alleged corruption and abuse of power by the village Communist party chief Xue Chang, who has occupied the post for more than 40 years.
They accuse him and other local officials of ballot-rigging so as to ensure grassroots candidates can never win an election against him.
They said the committee has sold off large tracts of arable land in recent years, but that local residents have never benefited from these secret deals, which eventually led to the pollution of a local harbor, a lifeline for many fishing families.