Villagers Rally in China Over Land Grab Deal

Posted December 15th, 2011 at 12:00 pm (UTC-5)
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Hundreds of residents of a Chinese fishing village defied authorities and rallied in protest of illegal land seizures and the death of a local leader while in police custody.

Residents of Wukan Village in Guangdong province held marches and rallies Thursday accusing local officials of selling farmland to developers without their consent.

Villagers have set up barricades along the outskirts of the village to prevent a possible police crackdown. They are calling for the central government to step in and restore justice.

Wukan has been the scene of repeated demonstrations and months of unrest over disputed land deals. The most recent demonstrations began after Sunday's death of a village leader while in police custody.

Police say the man, 42-year old Xue Jinbo, died of a heart attack, while family members and supporters say he was beaten to death.

Local mayor Wu Zili promised a temporary freeze on development projects in the village, but threatened to take strong actions against those responsible for unrest.

Local residents say police have restricted the flow of supplies, interfered with Internet access and blocked roads into the fishing village of 20,000 people.