Officials admit existence of grievances before violent protest in SW China 2008-07-03 17:47:36   Print

    GUIYANG, July 3 (Xinhua) -- Officials in southwest China's Guizhou Province have admitted there are social grievances in Weng'an County where a girl's death sparked a violent protest over the weekend.

    At a panel discussion on the protest on Wednesday, officials from the provincial and local governments said local authorities in Weng'an County had failed to solve disputes over mines, demolition of homes for city building, relocation of residents for reservoir construction, reform of state-owned enterprises and many other issues.

    "Some legitimate interests (of the people) were not effectively protected, and some people bore grievances," said a Guizhou Daily report on Thursday.

    The officials also blamed rampant crimes in the county, between600 and 800 cases annually. About half had not been solved. Theft, robbery and fighting were frequent occurrences.

    Xinhua reporters found that most local people could name several gangs during their interviews, and the residents felt insecure because of the gangsters.

    Police on Wednesday announced a four-month crackdown on gangs who were accused of inciting violence during the protest.

    Luo Yi, police chief of Qiannan prefecture, which administers Weng'an County, said the crackdown would "target gangs and criminal elements in Weng'an and its neighboring areas".

    Police would also investigate the illegal possession of guns and explosives, gambling, and other organized criminal activities, he said.

    Up to 30,000 people were involved in the protest, which was prompted by a controversial police report on the death of Li Shufen last month. Police concluded the 17-year-old drowned, but her family and relatives contend she was raped and killed.

    The protest turned violent and rioters mobbed government office buildings. More than 150 police and protesters were injured, but no deaths were reported. About 160 offices and more than 40 vehicles were torched.

    Police believe 134 people committed the destruction, and later took 59 into custody. Currently, 16 are in detention.

    Earlier, provincial Communist Party chief Shi Zongyuan said the incident started from a simple reason, but was used and incited by a few people with ulterior motives. However, he added there must have been deep-rooted reasons behind the violent protest.

    He criticized local officials, saying they had shortcomings that dissatisfied residents. "We must draw a lesson from the problems exposed."

    Wang Fuyu, provincial deputy Party chief, and Vice Governor Huang Kangsheng joined the discussion on Wednesday.

    Wang, who is also heading an investigation into the protest, urged Weng'an officials to listen to the voice of the people and solve the problems that were closely related to their interests.

    He said the violent protest would not have happened if local officials had communicated with angry people in time after the first signs of protest emerged.

Editor: Yangtze Yan
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