June 18, 2016 2:17:14 pm
Scores of paramilitary police have locked down a restive village in southern China to ward off fresh anti-corruption protests nearly five years after its uprising made it a symbol of grassroots defiance against the Communist Party.
A resident from Wukan village in Guangdong Province said by telephone that police swept in late on Friday night to surround sensitive government buildings and take away the village’s democratically elected leader Lin Zuluan.
Local police announced on social media early on Saturday that Lin had been detained on bribery charges and urged villagers to maintain social stability and “not allow a small number of lawbreakers to incite drastic behavior.”
A villager told reporters on Saturday that paramilitary police were patrolling Wukan’s streets and guarding buildings including the police department, but shops were open and daily life was carrying on as usual. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of fear of reprisal.
According to the South China Morning Post, Lin had been planning protests on Saturday against illegal land grabs.
In 2011, Wukan residents with similar grievances expelled government officials and police and barricaded the village, prompting a weekslong standoff that was peacefully resolved after the Guangdong governor agreed to let the village hold a series of elections to directly elect new leaders.
Lin, a protest leader, was named the village’s new Communist Party secretary after more than 6,000 villagers cast secret ballots.
Before his detention, Lin had prepared a speech for Saturday that said the villagers of Wukan, frustrated with ongoing high-level corruption, are “prepared to sacrifice more than they did in 2011,” according to the Hong Kong-based Post.
Lin’s Weibo microblogging account on Saturday posted what appeared to be a 30-second video, shot in darkness, of his overnight arrest with the caption “help me, help W K.”
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