The Yongzhou Mass Incident
This is divided into two sections: English-language media reports and translated Chinese-language reports.
(Reuters) Thousands riot in China, attack police, smash cars . March 12, 2007.
Thousands of Chinese farmers and laid-off workers rioted in central China, attacking police and smashing squad cars, a local official said on Monday, the latest in a string of violent demonstrations.
Nine police cars were burnt during the riot on Friday in the central province of Hunan in which 20,000 people clashed with about 1,000 police armed with guns and electric cattle prods, a local official told Reuters. 'They did it because they were not satisfied with some government behaviour,' the official, surnamed Tan, said by telephone from the district of Lingling, which belongs to the Hunan city of Yongzhou. 'They were also unhappy about official corruption,' Tan said without elaborating.
The overseas human rights Web site Boxun (www.boxun.com) said the riot was sparked by dissatisfaction with rising public transport costs. The site, which is critical of China, is blocked on the mainland.
The Hunan official said the riot had been quelled and that scores of the rioters were arrested. The government was tracking down the organisers, she said. Both police and rioters had been injured in the violence, and some of the rioters were sent to hospital, but none was seriously hurt, the official added.
A widening gap between rich and poor, corruption and official abuses of power have fuelled a growing number of demonstrations and riots around China, often sparked by seemingly minor issues. The government has said the number of 'mass incidents' in the country – a term that includes protests, petitions and demonstrations – was about 23,000 last year. Efforts to reduce inequality and sources of discontent have been a theme of government efforts to improve the livelihoods of its 750 million farmers.
(BBC News) 'Thousands riot' in China protest. March 12, 2007.
A protest staged by thousands of rural workers in central China ended in violent clashes last week, reports say. Several people were injured as up to 20,000 people clashed with 1,000 police in Hunan province on Friday, a local official told Reuters news agency. The Boxun Chinese news website said the clash was sparked by rising public transport costs. A witness told the BBC sporadic incidents continued on Monday.
Rural regions of China have seen mounting unrest in recent years. Thousands of protests were held last year amid growing discontent over the widening gap between rich and poor and corruption among officials at local level and above. The latest reported unrest came as the Chinese legislature, the National People's Congress, held its annual session in Beijing.
At least nine police cars were burnt during the clashes, the Boxun report said. Zhan Zilin, an eyewitness and a local activist, told the BBC Chinese Service that "the authorities sent over about 1,000 armed police, special police and local police and attempted to cordon off the roads in front of the local police station and government buildings". He said the police were confronted by protesters and "large-scale conflicts broke out".
The Reuters news agency reported that police were armed with guns and electric cattle prods. A number of police and protesters were injured - with some taken to hospital - but none were thought to be in a serious condition. The official, from the Hunan city of Yongzhou, told Reuters that the protesters "were not satisfied with some government behaviour". "They were also unhappy about official corruption," the official added.
The overseas-based Boxun, which is blocked inside China by the Beijing government, reported that protesters had been dissatisfied with the rising cost of bus prices. Mr Zhan said that sporadic incidents were still going on on Monday. "This afternoon, several dozens of people were injured, including some passers-by; four police vehicles were burned," he said.
The Chinese government has introduced a series of measures to try to address the sources of discontent in rural communities. They include pumping billions of dollars into the rural economy in the form of farm subsidies, as well as reining in the seizures of farmland for development and tackling government corruption.
(AP via CNN.com) '60 injured' in China protests. March 12, 2007.
A student was killed and at least 60 people were injured in central China when villagers armed with bricks and rocks clashed with baton-wielding police over rising transportation fees, a witness and news reports said Tuesday. Residents in Zhushan, a village in Hunan province, began gathering around a government building on Friday to protest an increase in the cost of public transportation, said Zhang Zilin, a local human rights activist. The crowd swelled to about 20,000 by Monday and the demonstration turned violent when local authorities dispatched police, who started attacking people, said Zhang, who rushed to the scene after a resident telephoned him.
It was the latest in series of bloody confrontations between authorities and citizens, most over corruption, the widening gap between rich and poor, and official attempts to seize land. The protesters in Zhushan were "very, very angry and were shouting 'Beat the government dogs to death,"' Zhang said in a phone interview. They were throwing rocks and bricks at the officers, he said.
At least 1,500 paramilitary police and riot police wearing helmets and carrying batons yelled back "Beat them to death," Zhang said. "They beat everyone including old people, children, women and people who were just passing by," he said. At least 60 people were injured, Zhang said. Zhang said he did not have any details about the student who died but Hong Kong's South China Morning Post newspaper said the boy was hospitalized on Sunday and died Monday. The newspaper said the cost of public bus travel had approximately doubled since the Lunar New Year in February.
A man who answered the telephone at the police station at Yongzhou, which oversees Zhushan village, first said he was "unclear" about the situation and then dismissed it as "rumors." Telephones were not answered at the Yongzhou government offices.
(SCMP) Student dies as villagers riot in protest at public transport fees. By Ting Shi. March 13, 2007.
At least one person was killed and several dozen injured in a mass riot in Hunan province as confrontations between more than 20,000 disgruntled farmers and local police escalated into a bloody crackdown, witnesses said. About 20 truckloads of armed forces were moved into Zhushan village from other parts of Hunan last night to restore order and back up the more than 1,700 local police called in since Friday.
Witnesses said anti-riot police were attacking protesters with batons and electric prods, and had started turning on innocent bus passengers. "I saw several policemen randomly hitting protesters this afternoon," witness Zhang Zilin said by telephone. "One protester was dragged down from his bike and beaten violently by policemen. He was lying in blood on the ground and I'm not sure he will survive."
Scores were arrested, including several junior high school students, Mr Zhang said. "They [the local police] were yelling, `Don't you dare argue and fight with authorities. You guys will end up with no way out'," he said. The dead victim was identified as a junior high school student, but there were no further details. He was rushed to hospital after being beaten by local police on Sunday afternoon, with one leg broken. He died yesterday afternoon, witnesses said.
Anti-riot police and paramilitary forces have sealed off the village police station and government offices where protesters refused to leave until officials met their request for a reduction in public transport costs. Another four police cars were smashed and burned yesterday afternoon, which brought the number of destroyed police vehicles to seven, witnesses said. Nine public buses and one government vehicle were also torched.
An agricultural official from the city of Yongzhou , which has jurisdiction over Zhishan district including Zhushan, said farmers protested because of rising public transport fees over the Lunar New Year. A public bus ride from Zhushan village to Linglin district, a township also in Yongzhou, cost only five yuan before the Lunar New Year, but had risen to at least nine yuan, the official said. Villagers said residents often paid more than nine yuan because the public transport company, Anda Transport,
started charging 3 to 5 yuan more to board the bus with one item of luggage.
"Farmers were asking the local government to intervene to reduce the unfair fee increases, initially in a peaceful way," Mr Zhang said. "But the manager of Anda brought in four busloads of thugs to intimidate the protesters and apparently the local police were on his side."
A Yongzhou official denied anybody had died in the clashes and insisted the riot had been quelled, adding the city government was launching an investigation. "Nobody was killed and this is only a trivial incident," an official with the city's propaganda office said. "But several top city leaders have already gone to the site to track down the organisers."
A widening wealth gap, corruption and official abuses of power have fuelled a growing number of demonstrations and riots around China, disturbances often sparked by seemingly minor issues. The government has said the number of "mass incidents" in the country - which include protests, petitions and demonstrations - came to 23,000 last year. Efforts to reduce inequality and sources of discontent have been a theme of government efforts to improve the livelihoods of 750 million farmers.
(Times Online) China sends in Army after bus-fare protest. By Jane Macartney. March 14, 2007.
China sent in the Army to restore order today after a student was killed and dozens of people were hurt when police in a central Chinese town used batons to beat back 20,000 villagers demonstrating against a steep rise in bus fares. The unusually large and violent protest reflected the difficulties faced by hundreds of millions of poor farmers struggling to eke out a living on the land while market-oriented economic reforms are bringing prosperity much more rapidly to China’s urban population.
The protest is likely to embarrass the Government, which is holding the 12-day annual session of China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress, in Beijing. China’s leaders are acutely aware of the tensions caused by the country’s economic transformation, which has prompted a mass movement of rural poor to fast-growing cities in search of work. Tian Chengping, Minister of Labour and Social Security, gave a warning today that the Government would be able to find work for just half of the 24 million people expected to join the labour market this summer, a figure equivalent to the population of Australia.
As the demonstrations in the remote and mountainous town of Zhushan entered a fourth day, the Government deployed a regiment from the Guangzhou Military Command in neighbouring Guangdong province and 400 special police from the Hunan provincial capital, Changsha.
Residents began to mass around a government building last Friday to protest against the new price of tickets for buses running along the main route linking the village to the nearest town, and continued to gather throughout the weekend. They were angered after the price doubled over the Chinese New Year holiday, which ended officially on March 4, to 10 yuan (65p), plus an additional 30p for a bag, and then remained at that level after the festival ended.
The protest turned violent yesterday, with police wading into the crowd wielding batons. Demonstrators retaliated by throwing bricks and rocks, witnesses said. One witness, who declined to be identified, said: “People were very angry and were shouting ‘Beat the government dogs to death’.” The witness said that more than 1,500 paramilitary police and riot police wearing helmets and carrying batons yelled back “Beat them to death.” Jiang Zhaoyuan, a Zhushan farmer, said he saw a young man pummelled by three or four policemen with batons. He said: “It was more than three hours before he could stand.” Five police vehicles were set on fire and the car of the local contractor who had taken over the bus company and its route to a district in Yongzhou city was also burnt.
Residents of Zhushan, who typically earn about 500 yuan (£35) a month, felt they could not afford the the increase in the cost of transport. Further fuelling their rage was a view among farmers that the businessman who had taken over the bus route was colluding with local officials to make money. When he refused to listen to their protests about the sharp increase in the fare, and threatened to bring in his people to flatten the village, the farmers attacked his car. That prompted officials to send in the police, further aggravating tempers. Qing Zhao, a local teacher, said he had heard that four schoolboys had been wounded and that one had later died. He said: “Who knows what will happen next. People are scared from seeing so many policemen and soldiers.”
Road blocks were thrown up yesterday to seal off the area, a regiment of soldiers was deployed and police put up notices calling on people who had taken part in the demonstration to turn themselves in. Local officials were visiting homes and telling people to remain calm and to keep off the streets, promising that the bus fare would be cut.
The incident is the latest outburst of public discontent that has highlighted the pains of China’s economic transition. Job creation is a key concern for the Communist Government, which has faced protests by laid-off state industry workers and widespread complaints from rural migrants over unpaid wages and other forms of abuse. Those seeking employment will include almost five million university graduates and people laid off by moribund state industries, as well as rural labourers who continue to flood towards cities. The state will do its best to create nine million new jobs in 2007, while up to three million job vacancies would open up through retirement.
(AFP via The Standard) Police beat up protesters to quell Yongzhou unrest. March 14, 2007.
Armed paramilitary police have poured into a central mainland city to quell unrest sparked by rising transport costs that resulted in four days of violent riots, residents and police said. Detachments from the People's Armed Police joined local security forces in the Yongzhou city sweep in Hunan province Monday, and by Tuesday had restored calm for the first time in five days, they said.
"Things have calmed down because they sent a police force armed with guns and metal rods Monday night," a resident surnamed Lu, who withheld her full name, said. She said PAP officers were observed beating people on the streets Monday night.
Protests erupted Friday, escalating into major confrontations between local police forces, who are not armed in China, and more than 1,000 angry residents. An overseas Web site Boxun.com, which frequently carries reports of unrest in China, said one middle-school student had been beaten severely and died in hospital. A nurse surnamed Zhang in the Zhushan Town Hospital in Yongzhou said about a dozen people came in Monday with injuries, none serious, suffered in clashes with police. At least a dozen police cars, buses and other vehicles were overturned or set on fire between Friday and Monday, said a staff member, surnamed Wu, of the Public Security Bureau's branch in Zhushan town, the center of the unrest.
The incident was triggered when a bus station employee began beating a middle-school student after a dispute over a new five yuan (HK$5.04) baggage fee, the resident surnamed Lu said. It was unclear if the student was the same one reported by Boxun.com to have died. Lu said the incident drew in residents already angered by a tripling of the standard bus fare in the city from four yuan to 15 yuan during the recent Lunar New Year holiday.
(SCMP) More troops drafted to restore order in Hunan. By Ting Shi. March 14, 2007.
An uneasy calm has returned to a village in Hunan province that has been the scene of mass rioting after more troops were brought in to maintain order and the local government intervened to cut bus fees after public pressure, witnesses said. Armed vehicles were moved in from the adjacent Guangzhou Military Region, which covers Hunan, and troops were stationed along the main streets of Zhushan village, in Yongzhou , where more than 20,000 farmers clashed with local police over a controversial increase in transport fees.
Witnesses said local authorities were tracking down the organisers of the protest, and scores of "violent villagers" who were believed to have smashed and burned at least seven police cars and nine buses. "They were checking into many households and asking those who got involved to surrender to the police," said witness Zhang Zilin.
Meanwhile, the local government has suspended Anda Transport, the bus company whose recent fee increases prompted angry villagers to take to the streets. Several buses commissioned by the local government are serving the village for the time being and bus fees have been reset to the original level of 6 yuan. "The buses are running really slow," Mr Zhang said. "It almost took one hour to get onto one. The whole public transportation system looks paralysed."
According to another villager, the local government has issued a mass-circulation notice declaring the "pacification" of the situation. "It said it's only a `small incident caused by a few troublesome villagers' and now it's all cleaned up," Mr Tang said by telephone. "It also urged protesters to bring themselves in to the local police."
The protest started peacefully on Friday but rapidly degenerated into a bloody clash after local police allegedly used force to crack down on protesting farmers. According to witnesses, at least one junior high student was killed in the melee and several dozen injured people were sent to Yongzhou People's Hospital.
The protesting farmers had refused to leave the local police station and the government offices until their request for lower bus fees was met. The standoff degenerated on Monday afternoon after anti-riot police started randomly hitting protesters with batons and electronic prods, and the demonstrators fought back with bricks and stones. The local government had ordered members of police officers' families to temporarily leave the village to ensure their safety, Mr Zhang said.
Hunan's top leaders, who are in Beijing for the annual National People's Congress, played down the incident, which jars with the push for a "harmonious society". Zhou Qiang, Hunan's newly appointed governor and a protégé of President Hu Jintao , said police had not opened fire on the protesters and he described the mass riot as "a very simple civil dispute between a bus company and the public". "It's just a ticket price problem between a local bus company and the public. It can happen anywhere. Nobody was killed. The incident has been handled properly, and things have all calmed down."
Meanwhile, Shanxi governor and former Hunan vice-governor Yu Youjun was heard asking two Hunan NPC delegates on the sidelines of the NPC session: "How could such a big incident happen in Yongzhou?"
(AP) Calm Said Restored in China Village. By Audra Ang. March 14, 2007.
A Chinese activist who witnessed a clash between farmers and police in which one person was reportedly killed has been taken away and warned by police not to speak with the media, his friends said Wednesday, as an uneasy calm settled over the village. Zhang Zilin, a human rights activist, was among the most outspoken witnesses to Monday's violent end to a protest against rising bus fares by 20,000 residents of southern Chinese village of Zhushan. Zhang told reporters that baton-wielding riot police beat the protesters _ including women, children and the elderly _ who fought back with bricks and rocks.
On Tuesday night, Zhang was continuing to talk by phone with reporters and other human rights activists when police and officials confronted him. He began shouting "'They're coming,'" and his phone was temporarily disconnected, said fellow activist Wen Yan. Another activist, Ding Yi, said Zhang told him Wednesday morning that he was being held in an undisclosed location. "He said he did not have any freedom and had been told by police and government officials not to speak with the media," said Ding, who along with Zhang and Wen are part of an informal network of human rights activists.
Protests have risen sharply across China in recent years as ordinary Chinese vent anger over official corruption, the widening gap between rich and poor, and official attempts to seize land. On Sunday, in the neighboring province of Guangdong, police dispersed 1,000 protesters in Dongzhou village in the latest standoff in a long-running land dispute, New York-based Human Rights Watch reported Wednesday.
Officials in Hunan province, where Zhushan is located, appeared to be applying standard procedures in suppressing the Zhushan protest, calling in riot police and trying to silence activists. On Wednesday, villagers said the area was still sealed off and policemen were patrolling the street. Police had put up notices asking people who participated in the demonstration to turn themselves in.
Zhang's cell phone either rang busy or was turned off on Wednesday. Telephone calls to police and government officials in Zhushan and Yongzhou town, which oversees the village, were not answered. "I don't dare step out of my home," said a villager surnamed Li, who refused to give his name or other details for fear of retaliation.
The official Xinhua News Agency issued an account sharply at odds with that of witnesses who had said a student was killed in Monday's melee. Xinhua said no one had died in the clash and that peace had been restored and "local life has resumed." A man who answered the telephone at the Hunan provincial government office confirmed the Xinhua report and said the death of the student "was hearsay."
Zhushan's tensions stemmed from an increase in bus fares by Anda Corporation over the Lunar New Year, China's biggest holiday. Xinhua said upset villagers intercepted a bus on Friday and demanded a discount on the new price. The operator of the bus company returned to the old prices but "some villagers who were still dissatisfied continued their interception, and a few began to destroy and burn buses," Xinhua said, citing an unnamed local official. Several villagers also gathered outside the Zhushan police station and threw rocks at officers, it said. In accounts given by Zhang and other witnesses, demonstrators surrounded a government building on Friday to protest the doubling of the bus fares. The group swelled to almost 20,000 on Monday and some 1,500 riot police were called in.
(SCMP) Officials blame riot on bus firm. By Ting Shi. March 15, 2007.
The mainland's official media responded for the first time yesterday to a mass riot in Hunan province which started last week, giving an account at odds with those of witnesses who described at least one death and dozens of injuries. The official Hunan government website ran a short report yesterday emphasising the role of the local government in restoring order in Zhushan village, where some 20,000 farmers took to the streets to protest against bus fare increases. "Local residents have been pacified and local life is now back to normal," the report said.
A domestic news blackout had been imposed on the bloody clash between protesting farmers and local police - a standard practice for mainland authorities concerned about the ripple effect of mass demonstrations.
Witnesses said local police were confiscating cameras and smashing digital video recorders in an apparent effort to block reports of the unrest spreading at a time when the province's top leaders are in Beijing for the National People's Congress and are discussing the building of "a harmonious society" with delegates from other provinces. A human rights activist who witnessed the clash from beginning to end said he had been questioned by provincial security agents, who warned him against speaking to the media. "They've been hunting me out because I've spoken with many overseas media about the riot," Zhang Zilin said.
The official report blamed the rioting on local bus company, Anda, whose doubling of bus fees over the Lunar New Year sparked the protest. But witnesses said the protest was peaceful until local police started randomly attacking protesters with batons and electric prods. Angry farmers defended themselves with bricks, rocks and pipes, smashing and burning more than 15 police vehicles and buses.
"China's leaders are showing that they are afraid of the views and voices of their own people," said Brad Adams, the Hong Kong-based Asia director for Human Rights Watch, a New York-based organisation. "If they were confident that they had popular legitimacy, they would not resort to such heavy-handed tactics." Violent demonstrations are becoming increasingly difficult to suppress, with economic growth exacerbating frustration at corruption, environmental destruction and the growing gap between rich and poor.
(AP) Activists challenge status quo in China. By Audra Ang. March 17, 2007.
It started with a small protest over a twofold increase in bus fares in a central Chinese village and escalated into a bloody clash between 20,000 farmers and police armed with batons. The melee in Zhushan this week reportedly left one dead, dozens wounded and a police-enforced lock-down on the village nestled in the hills of Hunan province. All of which would likely have gone unreported under the Communist Party's tight grip on information.
Except Zhang Zilin was there.
The 22-year-old art teacher-turned-civil rights activist got a phone call from an irate villager. He took a public bus from his home in the provincial capital for the two-hour ride, and once in the village, tirelessly worked the phones, bringing reporters and other activists up to speed on the details.
"Our role in the Zhushan case and other cases is to report the truth and reveal it to the public," Zhang said Thursday, after being warned by police against talking to the media.
Zhang is part of a burgeoning breed of activists. Eager for social justice and linked by the Internet, they are challenging the party's once tight grip on political life and showing how its information monopoly has been shaken by a rapidly changing society.
"This is just unstoppable," said Nicholas Bequelin, a researcher for Human Rights Watch based in Hong Kong. "These people are the embodiment of a nascent civil society. ... They represent Chinese citizens' aspirations for better rights protection. This is why we are seeing them cropping up across China."
In Zhushan, Zhang was an outspoken witness, describing indiscriminate beatings by officers carrying batons and steel rods and the anger of the mob as they burned police cars and chanted "Beat to death government dogs!"
A day later, Zhang says he was taken to dinner by provincial security agents and government officials, who warned him against talking to reporters.
Zhang remains unfazed, in part because he's not alone. He's part of the China Pan-Blue Alliance, a Web-based rights organization which started in 2005 and claims 2,000 registered members including college students, laid-off workers, teachers, journalists and lawyers.
Scattered across the country, its members recruit new volunteers for its cause of "promoting China's democratic process and pushing forward human rights," Zhang said. To that end, members donate money, pay for lawyers' fees and post reports of official abuses on the site.
(XXPI) [General historical background] February 9, 2007.
Guaranteeing orderly prices in rural China is an important function of the Price Regulation Bureau towards the construction of a harmonious new rural China. As such, they must actively monitor prices and pay careful attention to healthcare and medical fees, education fees, transportation fares in rural China, prices for water, electricity an coal. They must look for various arbitrary and secret fees and fines ...
One of the task is the re-organization of rural transportation fares. Since 2005, the rights to run these transportation routes are privatized, so that these routes became de facto monopolies with serious problems of arbitrary price hikes. As a result, the masses are reacting strongly. Therefore, cleaning up rural transportation has become a major sore point. In the second half of 2005, the Price Regulation Bureau obtained the approval of the government leaders and came up with a plan that was led by a joint task force from the government, the Price Regulation Bureau, the Ministry of Transportation and three other departments to enforce the law. Based upon the price of petrol as well as the characeristics of the vechiles, we set new prices for the various rural routes in Lingling district. Three bus routes refused to implement the prices mandated by the government; we went to court to obtain an order to enforce the prices. As a result, all prices in the district are now under the government0mandated level. This project resulted in savings of over 400 RMB for the rural peasants living in this district.
(Salvaged from the Baidu cache) 零陵区珠山镇车费胡乱加价引发民愤
9日，10日，因珠山至零陵车费无乱收费，任意加价，激起民愤， 8日，珠山至零陵车费加至9块，并且对学生携带的被子及胶桶各加收5元，态度恶劣， 部分学生及家长无耐，包租一辆车前往零陵，但受到该线路承包商责难威胁，9日该线继续加价，继续对学生的各种携带物品进行收钱，引起学生家长愤慨，引来上千人指责，愤怒的人群推翻了1台中巴，
On March 9 and 10, the arbitrary raising of bus fares from Zhushan to Lingling inflamed public anger. On March 8, the bus fare from Zhushan to Lingling was raised to 9 RMB. Furthermore, the students had to pay 5 RMB for bringing a blanket and also 5 RMB for brigning a plastic bucket with them. This was very bad attitude.
Some of the students and parents felt that they had no choice but to rent a vehicle to go to Lingling by themselves, but they were threatened by the company that owned exclusive rights to that route. On March 9, the line continued with the price increase as well as additional fees on accompanying items. This infuriated the students' parents and about 1,000 persons showed up to condemn the bus company. The angry crowd overturned a mid-sized bus during the process.
When the Qiyang boss heard the news in Lingling, he brought two carloads of men to Zhushan and he said that he would raze Zhushan to the ground. This caused the crowd to get angrier and overturned three mid-sized buses.
With mediation from various sides, the contractor agreed to reduce the price back down to 7 RMB the next day as well as to give consideration to even more price cuts. On the the next day (March 10), the fare from Zhushan to Lingling was indeed lowered to 7 RMB but the fare from Lingling to Zhushan remained at 9 RMB. Furthermore, the boss carried on with a bad attitude which infuriated the crowd once again. Another mid-sized bus was torched.
The fare from Zhushan to Lingling used to be 5 RMB. It was raised first to 7 RMB and now to 9 RMB. By comparison, the fare from Lingling to Lengshuitan which covers the same number of kilometers was only 4 RMB whereas the fare from Lingling to Zhushan was 9 RMB.
The relevant departments have not provided an answer so far.
(Boxun) Mass clash occurred in Yongzhou city, Hunan. By Zhang Zilin. March 12, 2007. [Similar reports at Apple Daily, Ming Pao and The Sun (Hong Kong) and Zaobao (Singapore)]
During the spring travel season, the Anda Transport Company which manages the bus line between Zhushan town and Lingling raised the ticket price from 6 RMB to 10-15 RMB. At around 10am on March 9, 2007, a large group of people gathered at the bus station to demand the ticket price be lowered.
The boss of Anda Transport Company arrived at the scene in the company of a carload of people who were ready to threaten the people. But they were prevented from doing so. The boss then announced to the assembly: he was going to take his buses away, which stirred the crowd to stronger dissastisfaction. The crowd then overturned four of the buses belonging to the Anda Transport Company. The event had escalated.
On March 10, the ticket price had not come down. The bus company boss came with dozens of unidentified men to intimidate the crowd, who became more incensed. At around 2pm, about 10,000 people were assembled and some of them set one of the Anda buses at the station on fire. At the time, the bus company boss said: "I'll offer 20 million RMB to raze Zhushan town to the ground." This really made the people at the scene very, very angry. More and more people showed up and things got worse. The fire department came to put out the fire.
In the evening, the Lingling district government sent more than 100 anti-riot police to control the scene. The Lingling district pubilc security bureau deputy director Liu Jingsong ordered the anti-riot policemen to begin arrests and four people were seized during the melee. Afterwards, three of them were released and claimed to have been violently beaten. This made the crowd angrier and they began to throw bricks and stones at the windows of the police station. The police used batons to charge the crowds. At the time, the anti-riot policemen were armed with one-meter long steel bars. During this clash, more than a dozen people were injured, including four students (one of them had a broken leg). The criminal police squadron deputy director Jiang Fu kicked and injured a Xinjiang person who was selling lamb shish-kebab by the side.
On March 11, people who came to the scene to take photographs were assaulted and their cameras vandalized. The cameras at the Zhushan town photography studios were confiscated by the police who did not want any photographs take of the incident. Local citizens called CCTV Focus Interviews\Hunan Daily\Hunan Economic Television and were told that this incident was out of bounds for reporting. I went to the scene at noon and the clash was continuing, but I did not have any equipment to record the happenings. I used my handheld mobile phone camera to take some photographs after the crowds had been dispersed by the police. The Lingling district government is broadcasting to ask people to stop the clashes and they defined the event as a crowd attacking government offices. The Lingling district government is referring to this as the 310/311 incident.
As I am writing this report, more clashes are taking place. The police have allegedly injured several dozens of people. The incident is not over because it is still ongoing and developing.
(Boxun, Boxun) By Zhang Zilin. March 12, 2007.
(Ta Kung Po) March 13, 2007.
Our reporter learned from the Yongzhou (Hunan) government that there was a serious violent mass incident in Zhushan town on March 9. By March 13, the matter has been peacefully resolved.
According to eyewitnesses, the incident began when Zhushan town citizens became unhappy with the price hike for bus tickets during the Lunar New Year period and they clashed with the bus company. Afterwards, the Anda Transport Company general manager gathered some gangsters and attempted to intimidate the protesting citizens with force, but this only esclated the conflict.
According to an informed source, the long-distance bus route between Zhushan town and Lingling was a monopoly. In spite of the order from the Ministry of Transportation against price hikes during the Lunar New Year period, the Anda Transport Company doubled its prices.
At the incitement of a small number of people, some local villagers attacked the police station, surrounded the town government building and set fire to police vhiecles. Certain emotionally aroused citizens even clashed with the anti-riot police that rushed to the scene. According to information, more than 60 villagers were hospitalized for various degrees of injury. According to incomplete statistics, the number of participating and spectating citizens exceeded more than 1,000.
AP and AFP reported from Beijing on March 13 that Zhushan town citizens used bricks and rocks to clash with police officers wielding batons. At least 60 people were injured during the incident. According to unconfirmed information, one student died.
According to eyewitnesses, the protestors numbered 20,000 on Monday. When the government sent in the police, clashes occurred. One teacher said that four students were injured during the clash, of which one male student died. This is unconfirmed.
According to information, the public bus fare used to be 6 RMB but was raised to 15 RBM during the Lunar New Year period. On March 13, the local government officials announced that the bus fare will be reduced to 5 RMB.
On Tuesday, the authorities erected road blocks and quarantined the area. The police posted notice to ask those who participated in the protests to surrender themselves. According to some villagers, government officials are visiting people at home to ask for calm. There are armed police officers patrolling the streets right now.
The clash began around noon on Monday and lasted about 5 hours. The villagers surrounded th government office building and dispersed after 8pm in the evening.
A resident named Lu asid that the incident was triggered when a bus station worker assaulted a middle school student. The two got into a dispute over the 5 RMB extra charge on carry-on luggage.
(RedNet (Changsha) via CCTV) March 13, 2007.
On the morning of March 9, certain citizens of Zhushan town, Lingling district, Yongzhou city, Hunan province gathered at the Anda Transport Company's bus depot due to their dissatisfaction with the price hikes. The local government learned about the situation and immediately ordered the Anda Transport Company to rectify its unapproved price hike. On March 11 and 12, the Anda Transport Company re-instated its former prices but some citizens still regarded the prices as being unreasonable and blocked the vehicular flow. A very small number of criminal elements took advantage of the situation to vandalize and set fire to the buses as well as the vehicles belonging to the local public security personnel in charge of maintaining public order. To prevent further escalation, the local government organized its cadres to stop the masses. When the persuasion failed, the public security organizations arrested the leaders who directed the vandalism and arson in accordance with the law. The spectators then gradually dissipated and the matter was stabilized.
After the incident, the Hunan provincial and Yongzhou city government gave a high degree of attention. Provincial and city department leaders quickly rushed to the scene, obtained feedback from the masses and analyzed the cause of the incident. They have ordered the Anda Transport Company to cease operation pending investigation and re-organization; they have bruoght in over ten buses to provide service on the bus line to meet the needs and security of the citizens and students. At the same time, the Yongzhou city, district and town cadres have entered deep among the masses to patiently explain the situation and maintain social oder.
As for now, the masses are emotionally stable and production activities are normal. During the incident, there were not fatalities.
(Oriental Daily) March 13, 2007.
The Yongzhou public security bureau issued a notice that acknowledged that the Anda Transport Company had increased bus fare on its own, leading to incidents in the town four days in a row from March 9 to March 12. Thirteen vehicles were destroyed, including six police vehicles. Another seven vehicles and a police car was vandalized or overturned. The duty room at the town police station was also vandalized.
On the evening of the day before yesterday, three armed police divisions were sent to Zhushan town. Yesterday morning, the eastern, western and northern entry roads were blocked by the armed police against all vehicular traffic. Residents who want to enter are required to get out of their vehicles and be checked.
Police cars are patrolling the streets with loudspeakers and sirens. Several dozen police officers wearing steel helmets and carrying batons and shields are deployed at key locations such as businesses and schools. More than one hundred armed police officers are posted outside the police station and town government office. Even the street cleaners were fully armed police officers.
The authorities have continued to broadcast messages to ask the participants in the disturbance to turn themselves in. They asked the people not to believe in rumors and not to be incided. They said that the criminal elements will be punished and those who surrender themselves will be treated leniently. Young men who are suspected of being participants were taken away for interrogation. The authorities also forbade strangers to go up to higher floors in buildings to take photographs. No assembly of more than 10 persons is allowed in town.
The Yongzhou public security bureau and the Yongzhou city Lingling district government posted notice to say that the Anda Transport Company has been closed down for re-organization for raising prices on its own. A special case team has arrived to deal with the matter seriously without mercy. At the same time, the bus fare will return to the original 5 RMB and no price hikes shall be allowed without the consent of the government.
The four consecutive days of disturbances had 20,000 participants by local accounts, with one dead student and more than 60 injured persons. The incident was triggered when a bus company backed by senior government officials raised prices indiscriminately and gangsters assaulting students and boasting that they will raze Zhushan town to the ground.
According to other reports, Hunan province party secretary Zhang Chunyin is attending the two Congresses in Beijing and trying to understand the situation. He promised to treat the matter seriously. Provincial governor Zhou Qiang denied that anyone has died. He also said that the incident involved only a few hundred people and was not considered a disturbance.
According to an anonymous member of the Hunan team of representatives at the two Congresses, Yongzhou is situated in the mountainous area of southern Hunan, it is economically underdeveloped and its people are known to be tough and volatile. Therefore, it is no surprise to see a mass incident in Yongzhou.
Hunan province governor Zhou Qiang said that it was sheer nonsense for outsiders to claim that 20,000 citizens participated in this 'disturbance.' According to his information, only several people paraded in the streets and there was not citizen death. According to him, the matter has been appropriately handled. Zhou Qiang emphasized that the matter does not involve the government or the party, and it was purely a dispute between the bus company and the citizens.
Hunan province party secretary Zhang Chunyin said that this incident is not a "disturbance" as described by the media. The authorities are carefully investigating the process of the incident. If problems occurred with certain government departments, they will be severely deal with in order to ameliorate the impact of this incident.
(Ming Pao) March 14, 2007.
Yongzhou city deputy mayor Dai Jufang said that the disturbances had been been occurring over several days but the local masses are not emotionally calm with the Hunan province and Yongzhou city leaders taking charge of the situation in the front line. The government is presently conducting an investigating and formulating remedies.
According to a person at the scene, the situation at Zhushan town is still tense. The authorities moved more than 400 police from Changsha for support, as well as another division of 1,500 armed police officers from the outside.
For safety reasons, the local government evacuated the families of public security officers. More than one hundred anti-riot police officers holding shields now guard the government office building. Anti-riot vehicles traverse the town streets and broadcast: "The people's police managed to say nothing when cursed and remain passive even when assaulted. The extremely poor behavior of the criminal elements has seriously violated the relevant national laws" and "criminal elements should surrend themselves as quickly as possible." According to sources, 50 to 60 people were injured by the police. A female worker at the People's Hospital in Zhushan town told our reporter that the hospital took in more than 10 injured persons, most of them having head and limb injuries that were not of a serious nature. A male Zhushan town teacher was interviewed by TVB of Hong Kong and claimed that a middle school student was beaten to death during the disturbances.
A Zhushan elementary school worker said that after two days of large-scale disturbances, all the commercial stores in town are closed and all the major roads are watched over by armed police. Vehicles from the outside are not allowed to enter. Some residents said that the incident was started when the bus company raised the bus fares by large amounts with government collusion. In order to to calm down the people, the town government mobilized all the public servants to visit each home to inform the residents that the bus fare has been reduced back to 5 RMB.
This disturbance began when a private bus company raised the bus fare from 5 RMB to 10-15 RMB during the Lunar New Year period and then refused to restore the original fare afterwards. On March 9 (Friday), several tens of thousands of citizens surrounded the bus depot to protest. They set fire to buses and police cars. On March 11 (Sunday), the government sent anti-riot police and armed police to clear the site.
RFA Video: The Yongzhou Unrest RFA Unplugged. March 29, 2007.