20 Reported Killed as Chinese Unrest Escalates (with intro by Ben Seattle)
The recent massacre of 20 or more villagers in southern China sheds needed light on the decisive tasks for activists today who want to create a powerful mass movement for a better world
> Finally, mobile telephone technology has made it easier
> for people in rural China to organize, communicating
> news to one another by short messages, and increasingly
> allowing them to stay in touch with members of
> non-governmental organizations in big cities who are
> eager to advise them or provide legal help.
(from the NY Times article below)
I thought the following article to be of interest because it is related to two issues which are very important for our emerging community of activists:
1) the revolution in communications is increasingly (even in police states such as China) making it more difficult for repressive states to suppress protest. As protest movements develop -- and people increasingly understand that the movement is just and victory is inevitable -- people lose their fear. State repression cannot succeed in the long run because news of protest and the politics of protest are becoming increasingly difficult to suppress.
2) We will never be able to popularize the most important truth of our time -- that a world without bourgeois rule is both possible and necessary -- without directly confronting the prevailing idea (promoted by the ruling class in imperialist countries like the U.S. -- and the ruling class in revisionist societies like China -- and also by clueless "cargo cult Leninist" activists who consider themselves to be marxists) that the rule of the working class in a modern society will take the form of a merged party-state which controls all media and which suppresses the voice of its political opponents.
Serious and militant activists will succeed in building a powerful movement of millions by embracing the enormous potential of both:
(a) the emerging revolution in digital communications and
(b) the power of mass democracy.
(The article follows below)
** The Media Weapon community
Isolated from one another we are easily defeated.
Connected to one another no force on earth can stop us
** We Need Mass Democracy
Real organization cannot be built on a foundation of sand
If we can create a mass anti-imperialist organization where decisions and struggle are based on mass democracy -- then we will capture the imagination of serious activists everywhere -- and be in a position to change the dynamics of the entire antiwar movement
** Proletarism is anti-revisionist Marxism for the 21st century
From the Russian workers' movement (with experience in underground organizing under the rule of Brezhnev's "communists" and militant strikes under the rule of Yeltsin's "democrats") has come a proposal to recognize, with a new name, a decisive break with the treachery of the "communist" leadership -- which enslaved the working class and betrayed the revolutionary movement in a way comparable to the great betrayal of 1914.
December 9, 2005
20 Reported Killed as Chinese Unrest Escalates
By HOWARD W. FRENCH
link to nytimes.com
SHANGHAI, Dec. 9 - Residents of a fishing village near Hong Kong said that as many as 20 people had been killed by paramilitary police in an unusually violent clash that marked an escalation in the widespread social protests that have roiled the Chinese countryside. Villagers said that as many as 50 other residents remain unaccounted for since the shooting. It is the largest known use of force by security forces against ordinary citizens since the killings around Tiananmen Square in 1989. That death toll remains unknown, but is estimated to be in the hundreds.
The violence began after dark in the town of Dongzhou on Tuesday evening. Terrified residents said their hamlet has remained occupied by thousands of security forces, who have blocked off all access roads and are reportedly arresting residents who attempt to leave the area in the wake of the heavily armed assault.
"From about 7 p.m. the police started firing tear gas into the crowd, but this failed to scare people," said a resident who gave his name only as Li and claimed to have been at the scene, where a relative of his was killed. "Later, we heard more than 10 explosions, and thought they were just detonators, so nobody was scared. At about 8 p.m. they started using guns, shooting bullets into the ground, but not really targeting anybody.
"Finally, at about 10 p.m. they started killing people."
The use of live ammunition to put down a protest is almost unheard of in China, where the authorities have come to rely on rapid deployment of huge numbers of security forces, tear gas, water cannons and other non-lethal measures. But Chinese authorities have become increasingly nervous in recent months over the proliferation of demonstrations across the countryside, particularly in heavily industrialized eastern provinces like Guangdong, Zhejiang and Jiansu. By the government's tally there were 74,000 riots or other significant public disturbances in 2004, a big jump from previous years.
The villagers in Dongzhou said their dispute with the authorities had begun with a conflict over plans by a power company to build a coal-fired generator in their area, which they feared would cause heavy pollution. Farmers said they had not been compensated for the use of the land for the plant. Others said plans to reclaim land by filling in a local bay as part of the power plant project were unacceptable because people have made their livelihoods there as fishermen for generations. Already, villagers complained, work crews have been blasting a nearby mountainside for rubble for the landfill.
A small group of villagers was delegated to complain to the authorities about the plant in July, but they were arrested, infuriating other residents and encouraging others to join the protest movement. On Dec. 6, while villagers were mounting a sit-in demonstration, police made a number of arrests, bringing lots of people out into the streets, where they managed to detain several officers. In response, hundreds of law enforcement agents were rushed to the scene. Everybody, young and old, "went out to watch," said one man who claimed his cousin had been killed by a police officer's bullet in the forehead. "We didn't expect they were so evil. The farmers had no means to resist them."
Early reports from the village said the police opened fire only after villagers began throwing homemade bombs and other missiles, but villagers reached by telephone today denied this, saying that a few farmers had launched ordinary fireworks at the police as part of their protest. "Those were not bombs, they were fireworks, the kind that fly up into the sky," said one witness reached by telephone. "The organizers didn't have any money, so someone bought fireworks and placed them there. At the moment the trouble started many of the demonstrators were holding them, and of those who held fireworks, almost everyone was killed."
Other witnesses estimated that 10 people were killed immediately in the first volley of automatic gunfire. "I live not far from the scene, and I was running as fast as I could," said one witness, who declined to give his name. "I dragged one of the people they killed, a man in his 30's who was shot in his chest. Initially I thought he might survive, because he was still breathing, but he was panting heavily, and as soon as I pulled him aside, he died."
The witness said that he, too, had come under fire when the police saw him coming to the aid of the dying man. The Chinese government has yet to issue a statement about the incident, nor has it been reported in the state media. Reached by telephone, an official in the city of Shanwei, which has jurisdiction over the village, said, "Yes, there was an incident, but we don't know the details." The official said an official announcement would be made on Saturday.
Villagers said that in addition to the regular security forces, the authorities had enlisted thugs from local organized crime groups to help put down the demonstration. "They had knives and sticks in their hands, and they were two or three layers thick, lining the road," one man said. "They stood in front of the armed police, and when the tear gas was launched, the thugs were all ducking."
Like the Dongzhou incident itself, most of the thousands of riots and public disturbances recorded in China this year have involved environmental, property rights and land use issues. Among other problems, in trying to come to grips with the growing rural unrest, the Chinese government is wrestling with a yawning gap in incomes between farmers and urban dwellers, and rampant corruption in local government, where unaccountable officials deal away communal property rights, often for their own profit.
Finally, mobile telephone technology has made it easier for people in rural China to organize, communicating news to one another by short messages, and increasingly allowing them to stay in touch with members of non-governmental organizations in big cities who are eager to advise them or provide legal help.
Over the last three days, residents of the village say that other than people looking for their missing relatives, few people have dared go outside. Meanwhile, the police and other security forces have reportedly combed the village house by house, looking for leaders of the demonstration and making arrests.
Residents said that after the villagers' demonstration was suppressed a senior Communist Party official came to the hamlet from the nearby city of Shanwei and addressed residents with a megaphone. "Shanwei and Dongzhou are still good friends," the party official said. "We're not here against you. We are here to make the construction of the Red Sea Bay better. Later, the official reportedly told visitors, "all of the families who have people who died must send a representative to the police for a solution."
Today, a group of 100 or so bereaved villagers gathered at a bridge leading into the town, briefly blocking access to security forces hoisting a white banner whose black-ink characters read: "The dead suffered a wrong. Uphold justice."
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