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Tea farmers attack police station in Guangdong province

May 28, 2009

Tibetan Review
May 27, 2009

About 300 tea growers attacked the Kengkouzui
police station of Yinghong township in Yingde
city of Guangdong Province on May 23, smashing it
with stones and bricks and burned the police
vehicles when rumours spread that one of the four
organizers fighting for their long simmering
concerns had been killed in police custody,
reported China’s official China Daily newspaper
May 26. The report said it was only one of a
string of recent incidents in which citizens had attacked police stations.

The report said the tea farmers’ grievances had
been brewing for many years, and included more
than 50 million yuan ($7.3 million) in medical
insurance, social pensions and unemployment
compensation that was in arrears. The municipal
government of Yingde had said it was doing its
best but was helpless without support of the
government of Qingyuan and even the provincial
government of Guangdong. It said the tea farmers
had protested outside the gates of the city
government complex twice in Apr’09 urging the
government to solve their grievances.

On May 22, police arrested four organizers they
believed had illegally raised funds in an attempt
to launch even larger-scale campaigns. The next
day their families mustered about 300 other tea
farmers to stage a protest at the police station.
They attacked the police station when it was
rumoured that one of the four organizers had been
killed. It resulted in three police officers and
some of the farmers being hurt, one fire engine
smashed, and four police cars and four police
motorbikes burned. The rumour was reported to be untrue.

In an earlier incident elsewhere, traffic wardens
in Huining county in Northwest China's Gansu
province were attacked on May 18 by hundreds of
people after police reportedly beat up a cyclist.
More than a thousand people later rioted outside
a police station, the report said. And in Jun’08,
the public security bureau of Weng'an County in
Guizhou province was attacked after a 17-year old
female student was drowned in a river and the
local police deemed her death a suicide amid
speculation that the son of a local leader was responsible.
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