/ 2 November 2004

Chinese dam protest turns bloody

Another day of unrest and violent clashes resulting in deaths and injuries were reported on Tuesday by local residents in China’s south-western province of Sichuan after more than 20 000 farmers protested against a dam project.

The farmers opposed to the Pubugou dam project were protesting their forced relocation and inadequate compensation payments.

Thousands of soldiers and police were mobilised to the Hanyuan region in the province.

Officials are putting ”the money into their own bag” said a farmer. ”For us nothing remains.”

One eyewitness account published on the internet said a dispute with a farmer at the construction site last Thursday left at least three people dead. Hong Kong newspapers said angry locals later brought the corpse of a dead protester to the local administration office.

The number of injuries was not immediately clear.

The dam protest comes after reports of violent clashes between majority Han Chinese and minority Hui Muslims in central Henan province that killed at least seven people and injured 42. Local residents in Zhongmou district said at least 10 people were killed.

The residents said violence erupted last Wednesday after a street dispute involving a Han-Chinese and a Hui Muslim, with fighting quickly spreading to both ethnic groups and lasting until Sunday.

Local sources said more than 10 000 soldiers and police were stationed in the area.

The official Xinhua news agency, which did not acknowledge a conflict between Muslims and Han Chinese, said 18 participants were arrested during the clashes.

An Interior Ministry spokesperson said it was only a ”village argument”.

The ethnic tensions, which escalated from the clashes, were not reported in the national media.

The resettlement of more than 100 000 people for the dam project should be finalised within two years. Experts have warned that the resettlement location will result in poverty as conditions are ”much too bad” to farm.

Farmers complain they have been left in the dark over their fate.

The number of farmers protesting at the building site have swelled from 20 000 to more than 50 000 in the past two days, reported farmers.

Participants in the protests were requested on Tuesday by police to turn themselves in, but farmers say there has been no response to their demands. — Sapa-DPA