太石村 taishi village – so much for feeling happy

A while ago, I wrote about the 太石村 Taishi village election in Panyu District of Guangzhou, and how it was seen by some as a possible victory of the implementation of rule of law over endemic corruption. As much as I’d really like to go, “Yeah! Jurisprudence and non-violent resolution of disputes through legal means is fully sick!!!”, the reality shows China’s political system on all levels is an exemplary construction of hidebound cronyism and despotism, where rule of iron pipe wins every time.

Besides a bit in Reuters, the events in Taishi didn’t get much media coverage in the English press, and have been heavily censored in Chinese press and internet bulletin boards, but bloggers Simon World (Sunny side down, It’s really over for Taishi, and Taishi and China loses) and ESWN (The Taishi Village Elections – Part 1 (Chronology) which is continuously updated, The Taishi Village Elections – Part 2 (The KR Report), The Importance of the Taishi Elections, and Taishi Village, My Neighbour) more than make up for the lack in the traditional media.

… or it wasn’t getting much coverage until democracy activist Lu Banglie was beaten almost to death in front of a Guardian journalist, and now it’s all over the place. The Guardian have stories Mob attacks key Chinese democrat, ‘They beat him until he was lifeless’, and Groundswell of protest feared by party officials, and Reuters China activist beaten, missing -activists say and Interfax Journalists beaten during Taishi investigations, one man killed.

China has formally arrested a lawyer who helped farmers in the southern province of Guangdong try to eject their village chief after a suspicious land deal, U.S.-based Radio Free Asia said.

Guo Feixiong was detained about three weeks ago following clashes between police and residents of Taishi village, in the district of Panyu. In an e-mail, the broadcaster quoted another lawyer as saying Guo was formally arrested.

In July, villagers grew suspicious their elected chief was embezzling public funds after a deal involving the sale of a large tract of village land, and launched a campaign to recall him. Guo and other rights activists had been advising them.

Asked about the report of Guo’s arrest, police declined to comment. “We have no knowledge of this matter,” an official at the public security bureau headquarters said by telephone from Panyu.

— Reuters

China arrests lawyer helping villagers protest

HONG KONG, Oct 6 (Reuters) – China has formally arrested a lawyer who helped farmers in the southern province of Guangdong try to eject their village chief after a suspicious land deal, U.S.-based Radio Free Asia said.

Guo Feixiong was detained about three weeks ago following clashes between police and residents of Taishi village, in the district of Panyu. In an e-mail, the broadcaster quoted another lawyer as saying Guo was formally arrested.

In July, villagers grew suspicious their elected chief was embezzling public funds after a deal involving the sale of a large tract of village land, and launched a campaign to recall him. Guo and other rights activists had been advising them.

Asked about the report of Guo’s arrest, police declined to comment. “We have no knowledge of this matter,” an official at the public security bureau headquarters said by telephone from Panyu.

Guo has been on hunger strike since his detention last month, but has been given emergency medical treatment and force-fed by detention centre staff, Radio Free Asia quoted unidentified local sources as saying.

In early August, Taishi villagers clashed with armed police when one of their leaders in the recall effort was arrested, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post reported. The government later rejected the recall petition, prompting scores of villagers to start a hunger strike.

The village was slated to vote on Oct. 7 on the fate of their village chief, and last month fought a government attempt to stack the election committee by selecting seven of their own candidates, Radio Free Asia said.

But Friday’s election appeared to have been cancelled and the seven villagers selected for the committee, which would organise the election, had resigned under government pressure, it said.

The U.S.-based broadcaster reported earlier this week that the government had shut down an online discussion forum that covered the villagers’ campaign.