Category Archives: protests

“Chinese take to streets on reports truck driver killed by police”

Reuters on the newest mass protests to emerge in Sichuan:

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of the southwestern Chinese city of Luzhou on Wednesday after reports a truck driver had been beaten to death by policemen, residents said, but state media said the driver had died after falling ill.

“People are very angry about this and are out on the streets to show their anger,” said one resident of the Hongxingcun neighbourhood where the unrest was focused. He did not witness the incident and declined to give his name.

A manager at a local restaurant who gave her family name as Wang added that several thousand people had taken to the streets.

Images posted later in the evening showed overturned police cars, some of which had been set alight. Some Weibo posts said police had used tear gas to disperse the demonstrators.

The official Xinhua news agency said the driver had “suddenly felt uncomfortable” during a scuffle with police about where to park his truck, and doctors called to the scene were unable to save his life.

“As a result, some people attacked police cars at the site, the report added.

I hope ‘suddenly felt uncomfortable’ will join the ranks of sad excuse catchphrases of the year.

Leave a comment

Filed under protests, violence

Foxconn Riots: A Big Deal?

I’ll admit, I mostly shrugged off the news about riots at a Foxconn plant in Taiyuan a few days ago. Foxconn is already famous for a series of worker suicides, and that the riot took place at an iPhone 5 factory shouldn’t be too surprising either- don’t we all already know that Apple doesn’t really think very differently than any other huge company when it comes to the conditions in which its products are made? Evan Osnos writes about what we should take away from this incident:

Though most of the iPhone assembly is done elsewhere, workers said that the iPhone was being made there, too, so the story leapt onto front pages. Anything attached to Apple gets more than its share of attention, but in this case, the Apple factor is far less interesting than what this instance of labor unrest suggests about the months ahead for China.

The riot at Foxconn—or any of the other five hundred “mass incidents” that China records on an average day—has implications far beyond Apple. Labor activists say that they are happening more often this year than last. A little over a week ago, six thousand workers at a Flextronics Technology factory in Shanghai went on strike for severance pay. In June, it was a hundred workers in a mini-uproar at another Foxconn plant. They are no longer simply calling for better wages. “Many of the protests this year appear to be related to the country’s economic slowdown, as employees demand the payment of overdue wages from financially struggling companies, or insist on compensation when money-losing factories in coastal provinces are closed and moved to lower-cost cities in the interior,” as the Times put it.

But the deeper problem is about institutions. Day by day, Chinese workers expect better conditions and greater guarantees that when companies go bust, the employees will not. And, yet, China permits no independent trade unions or free collective bargaining. Complaint and mediation procedures are weak. China today still has, more or less, the same Party-sponsored national trade union it has had for sixty years, even as the economy and the population have transformed. If Beijing is to avoid more riots in the months and years ahead, it needs to stop seeing this as an Apple problem and start seeing it as a China problem.

I’d agree with him that this is a good case to use to an example of the problems facing Chinese workers and labor, but still, as far as I can tell it’s only the Apple connection that made this incident stand out. Otherwise, ‘conditions are bad; workers strike/riot’ is about as Chinese a story as you can get.

More details from China Labor Bulletin:

Photographs and video uploaded to the Internet showed upturned police cars, fences demolished, bikes set on fire and dormitory windows smashed, and many reports claimed that shops inside the complex were broken into. Several thousand armed police were called in to restore order and Foxconn said that some 40 individuals were taken to hospital for treatment.

Although the official version of events from Foxconn attributed the violence to a dispute between workers from different provinces, many workers present at the time were certain the violence erupted after a security guard abused a female employee.

Workers’ sentiment on China’s online forums was divided, some angry, some joyful. Workers were eager to post photos and make comments on the events. And some workers from other Foxconn plants in Henan, Shandong, and Shenzhen posted letters praising the Taiyuan workers for their courage to start a riot.

Amid the general exuberance, there were a few voices calling on workers to stay calm and be rational. A worker, who said he had been employed at Taiyuan Foxconn for three years, highlighted the failure of the Foxconn trade unions to properly represent workers’ interests. This he said had complicated the longstanding conflict between management and workers. He hoped workers could handle the conflict in a rational manner in order to avoid unnecessary casualties.

This post was immediately challenged by another worker, who responded that workers had not meant to instigate a riot but that they had no other way to address injustice. When they called a hotline to complain about the abusive security guards, for example, they were told their complaint could not be handled.

Although several workers posted demands to set up their own more representative trade union, they are unlikely to gain support from local official unions like the workers from Ohms Electronics did in Shenzhen. Foxconn is a major investor in many inland provinces and government officials are eager to please the world’s largest electronics maker by helping it recruit workers. In addition, one of the reasons Foxconn moved its manufacturing bases to China in the first place was to dodge strong unions in Taiwan.

If this reminds us that labor in China is a major source of instability, and that a slowing economy is exacerbating these issues, that’s fine. Otherwise, I don’t see why this is getting disproportionately larger media coverage than any of the comparable incidents that take place on a very regular basis.

Leave a comment

Filed under labor dispute, migrant workers, protests

“Beijing’s Dangerous Game”

Perry Link in the NYRoB on the anti-Japan protests, good as always:

Many have ascribed the vehemence of the protests to deep-rooted anti-Japanese sentiment linked to injustices committed by Japan eighty years ago. But there is little evidence to support this. Rather the protests appear to have everything to do with the interests of China’s current rulers, at a moment when the top leadership in Beijing is in turmoil.

The Chinese state media suggest that Chinese people have long memories of Japan’s invasion of China in 1931, when the Japanese army carried out a brutal massacre of civilians in the capital city of Nanjing in 1937. According to them, what we see today are echoes of this longstanding “national insult.” But there are not many people in China today who personally remember the 1930s. Recollections of these distant events handed down within families are not that strong, and moreover must compete with some terrible memories of the intervening Mao era. The anti-Japan expression that we see on the streets today springs largely from other sources.

In 1985, nine years after Mao’s death, a Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall opened in Nanjing. China’s textbooks and media also began to mention the massacre, and the government began to use the issue as a way to stimulate nationalism and draw support to itself. The anti-Japan vitriol that we see in the streets today comes much more from that “education” since the 1980s than it does from memories of the 1930s. In 1998 Jiang Zemin, China’s president, visited Japan and demanded a written apology for Japan’s invasion of China. Public demonstrations against Japan have flared occasionally since then, often after government prodding but always under government monitoring and control.

It is significant that the numbers of protesters, by Chinese standards, are small. Crowds are in the hundreds, rarely over a thousand. By contrast the crowd at the pro-democracy demonstrations at Tiananmen in 1989 reached a million at its peak. There is no doubt which cause had the deeper appeal. Today, too, measured in numbers, the complaints of Chinese protesters are overwhelmingly not about uninhabited islands but about things closer to home—corruption, pollution, land annexation, special privilege, and abuse of power—and the usual adversaries today are not Japan but Chinese officials and the wealthy people associated with them.

From the regime’s point of view, the reporting is the whole point. The purpose of instigating protests is to generate “mass opinion” to serve a political purpose. Let me offer an especially clear example from a different context. In March, 2008, in Lhasa, Tibet, young Tibetans went on a rampage against Chinese shop owners. Some people say that agents provocateurs were at work, some say not. But in either case, credible eyewitnesses on both sides reported that for several hours Chinese police stood by and did nothing. They watched the looting and burning of stores while reporters from state-owned media made video recordings. Only when the taping was over did the police step in, arresting hundreds. Then, during the ensuing seventy-two hours, Chinese television—nationwide—showed and re-showed the video footage, explaining that the Dalai Lama, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, had been the instigator of the mayhem. Twenty days later, when young Tibetans ventured onto the streets of Lhasa and seemed ready to protest again, the police quelled them instantly. This time there was no need for videotapes.

What is it, today, that the people at the top in China want to achieve by stimulating and advertising anti-Japan sentiment? They do not say, of course, so the world must guess, but in broad outline the guessing isn’t very hard. The people at the top, who are used to maintaining a smooth façade, have every reason right now to distract attention from the unexpectedly messy handover of power now taking place, the results of which are hugely important to them.

The men at the top are very adept at staying there, and doubtlessly are aware of the dangers of this game. To them, stirring up and giving media attention to anti-Japan sentiment is a way to further their psychological engineering of the Chinese public. They know that it carries a risk. But the potential damage to the regime that could come from letting the public concentrate on their power transition, or get a deeper look into how corruption and special privilege work, is even greater.

Leave a comment

Filed under 2012 power transfer, Communist Party, Japan, protests

“Chinese Flag Removed Again”

China just can’t keep its flag up in Tibet, where RFA reports it was pulled down again in Kardze a few days ago:

On Friday, the Chinese flag was removed and the Tibetan flag hoisted around midnight at an elementary school in the Tibetan-populated Sershul (Shiqu in Chinese) county, according to Jampa Yonten, a Tibetan exile monk based in southern India, citing sources in the region.

“At midnight on Friday, the Chinese national flag on a pole in the Wenbo township elementary school was taken down, and a Tibetan flag was raised instead,” Jampa Yonten told RFA’s Mandarin service on Sunday.

“At that time, there were also a lot of leaflets scattered on the ground in the school. On those leaflets, the words ‘Freedom for Tibet’ were written in red letters.”

The exiled monk said the previous Chinese flag-removal incident at the school occurred on February 4 amid a spate of deadly protests against Chinese rule in Sichuan province and that Chinese authorities had then sent hundreds of police personnel to the area in a bid to tighten security.

It’s worth keeping in mind once again that Kardze was outside of the area controlled by the Lhasa government at the time of the Chinese invasion, and as far as I know the Tibetan flag used by Lhasa at the time never flew there. Beijing loves to remind us that these areas haven’t been directly ruled by the Lhasa government in some time, but this is illustrative of how Tibetan national sentiment is a major force across all of Tibet, not just the province labeled as such by Beijing.

Leave a comment

Filed under protests, Tibet

“Hong Kong backs down over Chinese patriotism classes”

After weeks of protests and the threat of further politicizing a populace that has been turning against mainland rule and the Communist Party, the HK government has offered a partial surrender on the issue (via BBC):

City leader Leung Chun-ying said the classes would be optional for schools.

“The schools are given the authority to decide when and how they would like to introduce the moral and national education,” he said.

The plans sparked weeks of protest and the changes came a day after activists said more than 100,000 protesters rallied at government headquarters.

Unlike the rest of China, Hong Kong enjoys a high degree of freedom, including a free press, the right to assemble and transparent, accountable institutions.

The BBC’s Juliana Liu, in Hong Kong, says the row is the latest example of the cultural, social and political gap that exists between Hong Kong and its mainland masters.

It also highlights the deep suspicion with which many Hong Kong people continue to regard the Chinese government.

I wonder how schools will take this- might China try the same financial incentive schemes they use abroad to support Confucius Institutes abroad, or encourage Communist Party members in school administrations to implement the classes? And how will Hong Kongers react to schools that ‘choose’ to hold these classes- boycott the schools, or just let it go?

Leave a comment

Filed under education, Hong Kong, protests

“Tibetans clash with police in west China; 1 dead”

Two more Tibetans have self-immolated in Ngaba, and the AP has a story about the violence that followed:

Police in far west China beat a Tibetan man to death during a clash that broke out after two Tibetans set themselves on fire, a U.S. broadcaster said Tuesday, in the worst flaring of violence in the region in months.

The violence occurred Monday in Sichuan province’s Aba prefecture, which has emerged as a center of political activism and the site of dozens of self-immolations in the past few years. The area, home to the influential Kirti Monastery, has been flooded with security forces, but they have been unable to stop the immolation protests.

Radio Free Asia said in an emailed statement that a Kirti monk named Lungtok and another man, identified only as Tashi, set themselves alight Monday evening. It cited a Tibetan in the Aba area who was not identified by name and other unidentified people inside Tibet.

The report said a large number of police tried to clear the immolation site and ended up clashing with Tibetans.

A woman who answered the telephone at the Aba police department said there had been no immolations or confrontations between police and Tibetan locals. “Nothing like that has happened,” said the woman, who like many bureaucrats in China refused to give her name. The phone of the local Communist Party Propaganda Office rang unanswered.

Nearly 50 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in China since 2009, with many shouting anti-government slogans and calling for the return of their exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. At least 17 were monks or former monks from Kirti, according to an earlier tally from the International Campaign for Tibet.

Monday’s clash with police marked the worst flaring of violence in Sichuan since a series of protests in January that Tibetan activist groups say left six Tibetans dead. The Chinese government said at the time that two rioters were killed.

Leave a comment

Filed under protests, Self-Immolation Crisis, Tibet, violence

“Taking It to the Street in China”

This NYT piece was the best one I saw about the Qidong protests, which rocked a town near Shanghai last week:

On Saturday, thousands of angry residents of Qidong, a seaport town near Shanghai, decided they weren’t going to take it anymore. They took to the streets to protest the government’s plan to dump wastewater from a paper mill into their harbor, as my colleague Jane Perlez reported. They ransacked municipal offices, overturned cars and fought with the police. Striking photos of the unrest are here.

City officials quickly announced the waste-discharge plan would be canceled. Score one, maybe, for people power.

Although there are tens of thousands of civic protests every year in China, most are small-scale, ineffectual and officially smothered. But high profile demonstrations over environmental issues are occurring with more regularity, size, violence and political oomph — in Dalian (a petrochemical plant), in Zuotan (land grabs) and earlier this month in Shifang (a heavy-metals smelter). Deadly floods and a feeble government response in Beijing last week also led to a huge outcry online.

Elizabeth C. Economy, a senior fellow and director for Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, said that all over China now “citizens are making their voices heard on the Internet and their actions felt on the streets.”

In a piece on the council’s Asia Unbound blog, she said that Li Yuanchao, one of China’s most powerful leaders and a presumptive candidate for the Standing Committee of the Politburo, recently lectured Communist Party officials that they should “understand and comply with the will of the people.”

His message is one that has been often delivered by party bosses, “apparently to little effect,” Ms. Economy said.

As one microblogger said of the bloody Shifang protests this month: “The government has repeatedly squandered the people’s patience. It is time for us to be independent.” As we reported on Rendezvous at the time, the police warned that anyone using the Internet, cellphones or text messages to spread news about the protest would be “severely punished.”

A university student from Beijing, Yueran Zhang, says in a thoughtful essay published Sunday on Tea Leaf Nation that public skepticism and online rumor-swapping have become the new normal in China whenever government officials are confronted with crises.

Government response to a recent deadly shopping mall fire, for example, “exacerbated netizen rumors and doubts,” Mr. Zhang says. Government officers shunted journalists away from hospital interviews with the injured, and lawyers needed official permission before giving interviews.

“Those measures led to the inevitable online speculation,” Mr. Zhang says, “that government was concealing a terrible truth.”

Leave a comment

Filed under activism, censorship, environment, protests

“China’s Young and Restless Could Test Legal System”

Stanley Lubman looks at what we learned from Shifang in this WSJ piece:

The Shifang protests are notable because of their size, their success in derailing a major project for environmental reasons and also because they reportedly involved the participation of a significant number of students. The protests may augur both a growing public anger over environmental degradation and a rise of political activism among China’s younger generation – trends that could lead in turn to an increase in legal challenges to the arbitrary behavior of local governments.

Writing in the Journal of Contemporary China, Benjamin van Rooij offers a good summary of the numerous obstacles to effective enforcement of environmental standards in China. Among them: A lack of information about procedures and costs associated with environmental litigation; the unwillingness of courts to accept cases in deference to the wishes of local governments; unresponsiveness from administrative institutions such as petitions offices and environmental protection bureaus; and the willingness of police to use force in repressing demonstrations.

Despite, or perhaps because of, difficulties in litigation, citizen outcries against projects deemed hostile to the environment appear to be on the rise. The newly visible participation of members of China’s young generation in the Shifang events may signal the rise of a new politically savvy generation. As recent story by Financial Times notes, the Shifang protest “has revealed a potentially important shift in the country’s politics: youth were at the forefront of the three-day demonstration, exposing a new vein of activism in a generation seen by many as apathetic.”

Contrary to popular perception inside China, the Financial Times argues that members the so-called post-‘90 generation are more politically active than their predecessors. They tend to be highly educated, and they also face less social mobility than in the two preceding generations. They also have grown up with more access to information, which has heightened their political awareness.

But as prominent Chinese environmental activist Ma Jun noted in a recent interview with business magazine Caixin, protests alone will not lead to long-term resolution of the country’s environmental problems. What’s needed, he says, is “ to liberalize environmental litigation and allow activists to speak in public. Right now, this channel is essentially shut off….the solutions to environmental problems must be legalized.”

Leave a comment

Filed under activism, environment, pollution, protests

“A Violent New Tremor in China’s Heartland”

IHT’s Rendezvous Blog on the Shifang protests:

“It is the 4th of July — 236 years ago, America achieved independence and 236 years later, the Shifang people are fighting for their own rights and confronting the government,” said an unidentified microblogger who was quoted by Reuters on Wednesday.

“The government has repeatedly squandered the people’s patience. It is time for us to be independent.”

The police warned that anyone using the Internet, cellphones or text messages to spread news about the protest would be “severely” punished. But there was a flood of photos and microblog posts, plus some video, and a widely circulated piece from Han Han, perhaps China’s most famous blogger.

As my colleague Keith Bradsher reported, the Shifang protest was the most-searched subject Tuesday on Sina Weibo, “despite what appeared to be the deleting of postings by censors.”

A Weibo microblogger named Lychee, who said her foot had been cut to the bone in the melee, wrote, “We simply hope that our hometown is free from pollution. That’s all. Is that too much to ask?!”

Shifang and its surrounding towns were heavily damaged in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake that killed some 70,000 people. Since then, the central government has invested heavily to rebuild the Shifang area, the official news agency Xinhua has reported, although anger over shoddy school construction in the province led to sharp confrontations between the parents of dead schoolchildren and government officials.

Many mourning ceremonies turned into protests, until the government began to forcefully stifle the demonstrations.

In the long term, however, the elite could be in trouble if Chinese citizens come to believe they can mobilize effectively around environmental concerns — or any other collective complaint like food safety, official corruption, land grabs, housing prices, forced abortions, a growing wealth gap, Internet censorship, you name it.

Leave a comment

Filed under environment, protests

“Han Han: The Liberation of Shifang”

CDT has a translation from a post by Han Han on the subject of Shifang, a city in Sichuan which has been rocked by protests after the government initially ignored concerns about a new industrial complex:

I think back to my hometown, the village of Tinglin, in Shanghai’s chemical industries district of Jinshan. I saw how a place of clear waters, quaint houses and clean air became what it is today. In ten years–it only took ten years–the river looked like dye and air smelled like poison. When the government wanted to develop pollution-heavy industries, it told the villagers that the GDP needed to grow. It needed more tax revenue to make everyone happy. Ten years later, quality of life hasn’t gotten any better, but now we’re breathing bad air. The river is a horrible sight, changing colors seven times a week. You can tell which day of the week it is just by looking at the river. The people of Tinglin have chosen to endure all this because the environmental department’s reports show that everything is up to standard. Of course, if you have no limits, anything is standard. But have you seen water so bad that even crawfish can’t live in it?

And so I want to tell the Shifang government that this is not an earthquake, this is not an emergency. People’s requests for improving their environment must be respected. You leaders change every few years. You take on environmental destruction with nice-looking certificates of achievement. If you do well you get promoted, if you don’t you get jail. The best of you emigrate, the worst of you are shot. But none of you actually live in the pollution. Only ordinary people live there. Even though you already stopped the plan to mine molybdenum copper, I think the pent-up public anger this project released comes from a deep-rooted animus that’s about more than molybdenum copper. The proposed plant started it, but now it has become a mass incident. I hope that the people’s resistance can proceed in a rational, smart and safe way. You should seek negotiation. Don’t suppress the movement, don’t give people an excuse to mob, riot, steal, break and loot.

I also want to tell the Shifang government that your decision to disperse the crowd was too sudden and excessive. I can understand that as a local government, you have no experience dealing with this kind of mass incident. Once you see the government offices surrounded by people, and the sign that was over the door broken on the ground, of course you feel annoyed. You look down at the people and then up at the calendar, oh gosh, it’s the Organization’s birthday.* The whole situation feels bad, and it’s happening on the wrong day, and something terrible will happen, and you might lose your position, and so you conclude that you must disperse the crowd before anything else. These people are not even celebrating the Birthday, so fine, you bust it up, they’re not giving you any face. I can imagine the order from the policy-makers: “Settle this as soon as possible.” Then the ones carrying out orders think, “As soon as possible… disperse… got it… dial 0101…” And so there’s no room left for the most basic exchange of words. Could it be that you’re treating the people’s anger at environmental destruction like an epidemic, to be stamped out in one day? No need for talk, just throw the tear gas? Having gone through Wenchuan, don’t you know that the more emotions build up, the bigger the explosion? When people release their anger, even if it’s over the top or started by someone from the outside, can’t you take it on good faith? You’d rather pepper spray them? So this is how the police connect with the people, by crying pepper spray tears with them?

Leave a comment

Filed under environment, pollution, protests

“Chinese Police Crack Down on Guangdong Protesters”

A few protests have been brewing in Guangdong, but it sounds like authorities are starting to get more active in repressing them now. From VOA:

Protests exploded into violence Monday and Tuesday in the provincial city of Zhongshan, with fighting between locals and migrants who have long-complained of wages and benefits lower than those available to local workers.

There has been no official report of injuries or arrests. But media reports from nearby Hong Kong say at least five and as many as 30 people have died in the violence, which also left hundreds of others injured.

The rioting is the latest in a string of violent protests in Guangdong linked to migrant workers and protests against unequal wages and other forms of alleged discrimination.

Last year, hundreds of provincial police battled with migrant workers in Guangdong’s Zengcheng city, following an altercation involving police and a migrant street-vendor and his pregnant wife, who were allegedly selling their wares in front of a supermarket.

Leave a comment

Filed under migrant workers, protests

“Africans in China protest after death of expat”

This Guardian article claims this isn’t the first time, but I don’t think I’ve ever read about a laowai protest of this size in China before:

Hundreds of foreign nationals have taken to the streets of Guangzhou, southern China, to protest after an expatriate died in custody following a brawl with a Chinese man.

Most of the demonstrators are thought to have come from the city’s various African communities and sources in the city said the dead man was Nigerian.

Guangzhou police said via its microblog account it had opened an investigation into the death of a foreign national on Monday. It said officers in Yuexiu district had been called because of a fight between a foreigner and an electric bicycle driver over a fare dispute.

Police took both men back to the police station to investigate, it said. But hours later the foreigner suddenly became unconscious and died despite officers summoning medical help.

One picture posted on Sina’s Weibo microblog showed a man carrying a cardboard placard reading “Give us the dead body” in English and Chinese.

Leave a comment

Filed under protests

TibetWatch: April 26

Not as big of a day as yesterday, but a major protest in Derge is definitely news:

About 3,000 to 4,000 Tibetans led by monks protested Wednesday in front of a township police station and government center in China’s Sichuan province, condemning a security crackdown on a local monastery and demanding the release of a nine people who had been detained, sources said.

The protester at the Zogchen township in Dege county in the Tibetan-populated Kardze (Ganzi) prefecture were angry at a series of raids conducted by security forces on the Zogchen Monastery from Sunday to Tuesday, during which monks were severely beaten, interrogated, and taken away, the sources said.

Wednesday’s mass protest was peaceful but protesters demanded that the crackdown should stop and all security forces in the monastery be pulled out.

“They told the officials that if there was no withdrawal, things could turn ugly,” one caller from inside Tibet told RFA. “The people were disgusted that the police could enter the monastery and assault the monks, including one 13-year-old monk,” said the caller, identified as Tashi.

Reuters has news about continuing unrest in Yushu and Jyekundo, where earthquake recovery plans look set to ignore the overwhelming Tibetan majority in the region:

For two years after a cataclysmic earthquake struck a remote and wild part of China’s northwestern Qinghai province, Baobao and 29 other homeless ethnic Tibetan residents occupied the area outside several government buildings to denounce a land grab.

But no officials in Gyegu – known in Chinese as Yushu – would listen to their pleas, said Baobao, 41, a burly Tibetan odd-job labourer, who goes by only one name.

“What we don’t understand is why the officials’ homes can be left alone, but the ordinary people’s homes have to be snatched away,” he told Reuters in the tent he set up next to his home that is still standing.

“There must be two kinds of policies: one for officials and another for ordinary people.”

Land disputes are common across China, but the issue takes on new ramifications in areas dominated by ethnic Tibetans.

An official with the prefecture government said he had no knowledge of the situation.

Officials had first promised Amdo a free house and money in 1995 in exchange for him giving up his herd and relocating to the nearest town. He moved but got nothing in return.

“I petitioned the government to solve my housing problem but there was no effect,” said Amdo, dressed in a sheepskin robe.

Trinley Palmo, 56, another nomadic herder, said the authorities tore down her house in the grasslands after the earthquake, citing safety concerns. Her family was moved into an 80 square-metre (850 sq.foot) brick home in a resettlement area on the outskirts of Gyegu – one of almost 70,000 such households.

An official with Gyegu’s Agriculture and Animal Husbandry Department said resettlement “should not have any detrimental impact” on the nomads’ cultural and religious beliefs.

“Most of the farmers and herdsmen are still in favour of resettlement,” the official, identifying himself by his surname Li, said by telephone.

Many residents said they had seen no benefits. Tashi Nyima, 35 and a former herder, worried about feeding his family.

“If the government policy changes, I would go back to herding,” he said, after trading goods outside a storefront.

After snowstorms last week, Jamdrol said life was tough in the two-room 20 sq. metre tent pitched outside his house. The interior was lined with wooden benches, with strips of carpet on them. His wife, Tselha, was chopping firewood for warmth.

The government may seize his land, but he says he is unafraid.

“I will persist in telling the government the land belongs to me,” Jamdrol said. “Even if they want my life, I’ll never give it up,” he said, moving his finger across his throat.

Finally, Beijing is trying to use the World Buddhist Forum it created to elevate the fake Panchen Lama it created:

China’s disputed selection as the Panchen Lama has espoused Buddhist philosophy in a speech that was his first appearance outside the mainland and showed greater efforts by Beijing to gain acceptance of its rule over Tibet.

The Panchen Lama is Tibetan Buddhism’s second-highest spiritual leader, but followers of the exiled Dalai Lama do not recognise China’s choice.

He spoke at the third World Buddhist Forum in Hong Kong, a showcase for China’s cultural diplomacy attended by more than 1,000 monks, nuns and scholars from 50 countries. China holds the forum every three years and the Panchen Lama’s attendance was aimed at burnishing his religious credentials.

Leave a comment

Filed under disasters, ethnic conflict, protests, Self-Immolation Crisis, Tibet

“Riot Reported in Chongqing Over Redistricting”

From ChinaDigitalTimes:

Online reports circulating in China say thousands of residents of Wansheng District in Chongqing protested and rioted today over an administrative decision to merge two separate districts. According to online reports, residents of Wansheng District are afraid their living standards and economic conditions will deteriorate after the merge. The riots occurred the same day that the central government announced that former Chongqing Party chief Bo Xilai had been dismissed from all Party posts and his wife was suspected of murder. Photos of the riot have been distributed online and compiled by Molihua Geming.

They have pictures and more links as well.

Leave a comment

Filed under protests, redistricting

“Inner Mongolians Escalate Land Protest”

RFA has the details on a second protest in Inner Mongolia over the last week:

About 40 farmers and villagers from Tulee Gachaa in the Naiman banner (county) in eastern Inner Mongolia demonstrated in front of government offices in the banner’s capital Daachintal (in Chinese, Daxintale) on Tuesday, the Southern Mongolia Human Rights Information Center said in a statement.

The protesters demanded the Naiman authorities release the 22 protesters detained in Monday’s violent protest in the village and return 60,000 mu (10,000 acres) of farmland they say has been expropriated by the government-backed company and left lying idle for years.

The protesters chanted slogans and displayed a sign that said, in Mongolian and Chinese, “The detention is illegal; Release the detainees; Return our land,” SMHRIC said.

“If the Mongol farmers would discuss this with us, maybe we could resolve the problem, but they have not agreed to this so far,” he told RFA’s Uyghur service Wednesday.

But SMHRIC claimed local government officials had met with five of the protester’s representatives on Wednesday evening, proposing to release the detainees if the protesters went home silently and signed promises to stop opposing the land expropriation.

The protesters refused, sending a message to SMHRIC that said, “We are determined not to halt our protest until the government releases all detainees, compensates our losses, punishes those who beat the protesters, and returns our land to us.”

Leave a comment

Filed under ethnic conflict, Inner Mongolia, protests

“China detains 22 after Inner Mongolia protest”

The Southern Mongolian Human Rights Center is carrying a story about more arrests in Inner Mongolia following a protest:

Over 80 heavily armed police with more than 30 police vehicles dispatched from the Naiman Banner Public Security Bureau came to Tulee Gachaa and brutally beat up the local Mongolians who were attempting to stop a Xing Long Gao Forestry bulldozer from turning over their farmland. Twenty two protesters were arrested and taken away by police, 5 were seriously injured.

Chenfuulong, one of the organizers of the protest, told the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC) over the phone that the local Mongolians have been protesting against the Chinese company’s illegal occupation of lands belonging to Tulee Gachaa since last year.

“The protest concerns a 60,000 mu (about 10,000 acres) area of land that was illegally occupied by Xing Long Gao Forestry for several years,” Chenfuulong explains the background of the land expropriation, “since last year, they stopped managing the forestry. It should be returned to the legitimate owners of the land, the Mongolians of Tulee Gachaa. Now they are trying to continue to occupy our land.”

According to Chenfuulong, the Mongolians organized themselves and protested in front of different level of government including the Tongliao Municipality Government and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region Government during the past several months for a just resolution. They even sent four representatives to Beijing to attempt to urge the Central Government to address their grievance in a just manner in March of this year.

“I narrowly escaped arrest. They raided my home and confiscated my motorcycle,” Chenfuulong describes the conflict scene, “police violently beat up the protesters with batons; some were bleeding, some were beaten down on the ground; women were pulled by their hair and thrown into police vehicles.” Chenfuulong mentioned that his brother Chenfuudee was also among the 22 detainees.

Another Mongolian witness who asked not to be identified provided SMHRIC with a partial list of the detainees. They are Haschuluu, Shuanzuur, Gowaa, Baochuan, Meirong, Baodee, and Chenfuudee.

“Both parents of some families were taken away and their young kids left unattended. For example, Shuanzuur and Gowaa are husband and wife, and their five year old daughter was left crying at home with no one’s care,” he described the rising tension, “police cars are still patrolling the village and more crack down is expected.”

Leave a comment

Filed under ethnic conflict, Inner Mongolia, protests

TibetWatch: March 14

Via RFA, news of student protests and another self-immolation:

A Tibetan monk set himself ablaze Wednesday at his monastery in China’s northwestern Qinghai province following protests by several thousand Tibetan students calling for education reforms, sources said.

The self-immolation occurred at a monastery in Qinghai’s Rebkong (in Chinese, Tongren) county in Malho (in Chinese, Huangnan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, triggering protests by hundreds against Chinese rule in Tibetan-populated areas, exile sources said.

The burning came a day after nearly 4,000 middle school students held protests demanding Tibetan language and other rights in Rebkong and in neighboring Tsekhog (in Chinese, Zeku) county, sources inside Tibet said.

In the latest incident, 34-year-old monk Jamyang Palden set fire to himself at around 10.30 a.m. local time at the prayer-hall grounds of the Rongwo Gonchen Monastery in Rebkong, a Tibetan living in exile told RFA after talking to contacts in the region.

Chinese security forces surrounded the monastery and tried to disperse hundreds of Tibetans who had gathered for prayers and to protest Chinese rule, but the crowd refused to disperse.

A couple of hours later, hundreds of Tibetans converged at the monastery to protest, drawing Chinese security forces.

“Around 11 a.m. or 12 p.m., local Tibetans gathered on the grounds in front of the monastery and raised slogans. They recited prayers for the Dalai Lama and remained firmly at the site,” another Tibetan exile source said.

“The local police ordered them not to recite prayers and to disperse, but the crowd refused,” the source said.

“The situation is tense.”

Woeser has a piece in FP about Han reactions (or the lack thereof) to the self-immolations:

For the Han Chinese, who make up more than 90 percent of China’s population, there is a similar expression engraved in their history books: “Whoever is not among us must be of a different heart.”

Originally, these words were not frightening. Over the years, though, the sentiments they express have created an atmosphere of raw violence. Minorities stand in the way of the grand unity of China’s different peoples; they must be Sinicized or extinguished. The ethnic minorities who live in China, the Tibetans, Uighurs, Mongolians, and others, understand that this view of ethnic minorities is actually quite widespread, that it is the mainstream, that they receive little empathy from the majority.

A few Han Chinese have spoken out. Human rights lawyer Teng Biao said this year that “Chinese public intellectuals have kept mum [about the immolations], pretending to be ignorant of what’s happening, silently cooperating. They are as shameless as the murderers themselves.” In 2008 after the authorities suppressed the Tibetan protests, Teng and more than 20 Chinese rights lawyers issued a public statement saying they were willing to provide legal assistance to those Tibetans who had been arrested. As a result, Teng lost his lawyer’s license; the other lawyers involved also met with difficulties.

The authorities always say that they “liberated” Tibet, bringing “happiness” to 6 million Tibetans. But why, so many years after the 1959 liberation, are the serfs revolting against their liberators? The authorities have an explanation: The “Dalai clique” is to blame for all this — the protests, the young Tibetans taking to the streets, the violence. Chinese media have turned this lie into public opinion. And the Chinese people, indoctrinated by the one voice with which the Chinese media speaks, don’t understand why Tibetans protest and don’t care to learn.

Tibetans have no voice in China. The Dalai Lama, who has been in exile for 53 years; the Panchen Lama, who has been missing for 17 years; the 27 people who have set fire to themselves over the past three years, a group of people between the ages of 17 to 41, monks and nuns, farmers, herders, students, and the parents of children — the only existence they have in Chinese society is one in which their reputations have been sullied and the truth has been distorted.

And still the Han Chinese say nothing. Many keep silent because they accept the concept of grand unity, where all minorities need to be shoehorned into fitting under Chinese rule. Some keep silent because they mind their own business, a traditional principle of Confucianism that has devolved into selfishness. And some are silent because they are afraid. In Beijing recently, someone transmitted news of a Tibetan committing self-immolation on Sina’s microblog (China’s Twitter). The police took him to a police station in the middle of the night and warned him not to mention Tibet again.

Leave a comment

Filed under ethnic conflict, protests, Self-Immolation Crisis, Tibet

March 4th: TibetWatch

A few organizations are reporting either one or two self-immolations yesterday. RFA:

A Tibetan widow and a middle school girl set themselves on fire and died at the weekend in China’s Sichuan and Gansu provinces in self-immolation protests demanding freedom and an end to Chinese rule, according to sources on Sunday.

On Sunday, a 32-year-old widow and mother of three, identified as Rinchen, torched herself in front of the restive Kirti monastery in Sichuan’s Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) prefecture, succumbing to her burns on the spot, the sources said.

She set herself on fire right in front of a Chinese police surveillance station at the main gate of the Kirti monastery, which has been under siege by Chinese security forces and from where hundreds of monks have been taken into custody since early last year.

On Saturday, a girl from the Tibetan Middle School self-immolated at a vegetable market in Machu (in Chinese, Maqu) county in Gansu province’s Kaniho (in Chinese, Gannan) Tibetan autonomous prefecture, an exile source said, quoting local contacts.

The Chinese vendors alerted the police who urged them to prevent her from leaving the market, the source said.

“The Chinese vendors at the Machu vegetable market threw stones at her burning body,” the source said, adding that the girl died at the scene.

“The Tibetans present in the market were agitated and this almost resulted in a major clash between the Tibetans and Chinese,” the source said.

I believe this is the first immolation to take place in Gansu, and I wonder if this might be what finally sets off unrest in Labrang. We’ll see how provincial authorities handle it.

High Peaks Pure Earth has a translation of a lengthy post by Woeser, which is dedicated to the Tibetan pilgrims who were put into detention after returning from India. Even by Chinese government standards this entire thing is extremely gauche:

When the initiation was concluded the faithful from inside Tibet dispersed and set out on the return journey to their homes there. They had worn themselves out just to get passports and their route had been plagued with hardship, until finally they obtained the nourishing nectar of the buddha dharma at the holy site. They had a brief moment of happiness, never imagining that there would be a later “settling of scores;” that this would set in motion an experience of mental and physical torment.

First, when they returned via Nepal, whether they arrived at one of several airports or at the border crossing point of Dram, they were all interrogated and searched by Chinese military and police. Buddhist ritual objects, such as scriptures, etc., that they were carrying with them as well as presents that they’d bought, such as Tibetan medicines, etc., were all indiscriminately confiscated.

It is understood that many of the faithful whose homes were in Amdo and Kham were taken as a group to Lhasa and sent together via the Qinghai-Tibet Railway to their individual regions. Afterwards each individual had to be vouched for by two cadres in their home areas. Only then could they return to their own families. In addition, the faithful from Amdo and Kham who have returned most recently from India and Nepal were placed under uniform supervision and sent to Shigatse to receive 7 days of “education.” Afterwards they were sent back home together.

And Lhasa: any Tibetans who attended the initiation encountered even bigger troubles. Of these, the overwhelming majority was elderly: retired cadres as well as urban residents and farmers from the outskirts of the city. And there were also middle-aged and young people. First they were summoned by their local neighbourhood committees or work units jointly with the relevant police station. Every person was interrogated by staff people from the neighbourhood committees or work units together with Public Security Bureau police. The important questions included: Whom did you see at the Kalacakra Inititation? What did the Dalai Lama, Samdhong Rinpoche and the newly-elected Kalon Tripa say exactly? Which people from here did you run into at the inititation? How much money did you give in offerings for the inititation, to the Dalai Lama and other Rinpoches? Etc., etc.

She continues on to describe everything China is doing to the pilgrims. Peter Ford from CSM on the acute difficulty of being a journalist in China:

The obvious way for a foreign reporter to find out what is really happening in Xinjiang or Sichuan would be to go there and talk to people. But that is not as easy as it sounds.

We are allowed to go to Xinjiang, but when I reported from there I found very few Uighurs brave enough to risk the punishment they feared if they were found to have talked to me. Never, in 30 years of reporting from five continents, have I found it so difficult to be a journalist. And after my return to Beijing, I discovered that plainclothes policemen had secretly followed me every step of my weeklong trip.

The government allows journalists to go to Sichuan, too, but police have set up roadblocks around the region where unrest is reportedly greatest, and turned back all the foreign reporters they have found.

A few correspondents have sneaked through the roadblocks, hidden under blankets or otherwise concealed (a shout out to Jon Watts of the Guardian, Tom Lasseter of McClatchy, and Gillian Wong of the AP, who have recently managed to get into closed areas), but they were unable to stay long or to talk to many people. They had to bear in mind that if they were caught, the people with whom they were caught talking would get into unknown amounts of trouble with the authorities.

Finally, a piece from Hindustan Times about Tibetan refugees in India:

Videos and photographs of the burning monks and nuns have circulated worldwide despite local authorities nipping the Internet and telephone network. Foreign journalists are barred from visiting the restive regions to verify what’s going on. The monks are coming to India, home to 100,000 exiled Tibetans, and disclosing their versions. Phuntsok mapped his journey from Kham to Lhasa to the border-town Dum to Nepal’s capital Kathmandu to Delhi to Dharmashala after surviving knuckle-crushing beatings and electric shocks for one month and seven days in a Chinese prison last summer. He was 17. The monk shouting slogans by his side was 15. Their crime: holding a placard scrawled with slogans for the long life and return of the Dalai Lama.

“The police and military came soon after my friend and I raised slogans,” he said. “I knew I’d be put behind bars. But I did it because being Tibetan, I felt like I had contributed something for Tibet.”

Since the Lhasa riots of 2008, which Beijing blamed on the Dalai Lama’s office, the China-Nepal border is so tightly secured that less than 1,000 Tibetans per year are coming to Dharamshala, compared to thrice as many before 2008.

Tibetans caught on the Nepal border are known to be sent to jails in Lhasa and transported back to their hometowns. An 18-year-old was the last monk to arrive from the Kirti monastery town in southern Sichuan — the locked down centre of the standoff between Buddhist monks and the Chinese military — to Kirti monastery in Dharamshala.

Wrapped up to his chin in maroon robes, he cited anxiety about the family he left behind and declines to reveal his real name. His fake name is Doung Tug, and within a year he has lost a half-brother and a classmate to self-immolations for the Tibetan cause. “I came to India to enjoy freedom, he said.

Talking about his half brother Rigzin Dorje, 19, Tug said, “His plan was to raise his own family and live the nomad’s life,” Tug said. Last month, he stood outside a school and burnt himself. As the boy ended his narrative of the Chinese military and plainclothes police inside monasteries and forced ‘patriotic re-education’ lessons to denounce the Dalai Lama, an older monk spoke up.

“Many more Tibetans, not just from Kirti monastery, but from all over Tibet,” said Kanyag Tsering, a monk in contact with his counterparts in China’s Kirti, “want to come to India.”

Leave a comment

Filed under ethnic conflict, India, protests, refugees, Self-Immolation Crisis, Tibet

“Rising Protests in China”

The Atlantic has a great photo essay showing just a cross-section of the mass incidents China has witnessed over the last year. Next time someone says Beijing has a firm handle on the situation, link them to this, and then remind them that these incidents were just the tip of the iceberg.

Leave a comment

Filed under art, protests

“Monk Charged After Repeated Detentions”

The repression machine is still on a roll, even outside of the conflicted Ngaba area- via RFA we learn that Labrang Jigme, the man interviewed in this video:

… has been been charged with ‘splittist activities’ and may be sentenced soon:

Jigme Gyatso , a monk at the Labrang monastery in the Kanlho (in Chinese, Gannan) prefecture of China’s Gansu province, was most recently picked up by Chinese police on Aug. 20, 2011, his brother reported at the time.

“Since then, he has been held without any word concerning his fate,” a Tibetan source close to the family told RFA, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“At the beginning of February, his brother Sonam Tsering received a notice dated Jan. 2 from the Kanlho Public Security Bureau [PSB] informing him that Jigme Gyatso had been formally charged with ‘splittist activities,’” the source said.

Meanwhile, a Tibetan traffic policeman from Machu county, also in Kanlho, was handed a four-and-a-half-year jail term for “rebelling” against the Chinese government during regionwide protests in 2008, a Tibetan living in exile said, citing contacts in the region.

“His name is Sherab, and he is from the [district of] Dzoge,” the source said.

“He had been a monk for a while, but later joined the Chinese police force, where he served for four years.”

When Tibetans in Machu rose against Chinese rule in 2008, Sherab “went to the Tibetan side and attacked the Chinese police,” the source said.

“He was detained sometime in May or June of 2008, and since then nothing was heard about him for a while.”

Although the news in China won’t report any of this, locals will definitely be following these developments. This is the kind of thing that destabilizes regions, Beijing…

Leave a comment

Filed under courts, enforced disappearance, ethnic conflict, prison, protests, Tibet, torture