Taishi Documentary, Part 1 of 4 – Ai Xiaoming (Updated)

The link below is to a ground-breaking documentary film, produced by Professor Ai Xiaoming, about the protests at Taishi village. UPDATE: For copyright reasons, CDT has removed the link to the video. Please see below for information on other sites that have posted the video.

Ai Xiaoming, a professor in the Chinese Language and Literature at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou and a renowned women’s studies scholar, has written several essays about her investigations into the events at Taishi. One essay has been translated by ESWN and is available here. She also wrote an open letter about Taishi to Premier Wen Jiabao. Following the crackdown in Taishi, she was, along with several others, blamed by the government for the protest movement there.

UPDATE: CDT has also learned that this film has been posted by someone else on EMule. See this link (in Chinese) for information on how to download it there. Also, the China Information Center has apparently made an English translation of the video, which CDT has not yet seen, which they are distributing by DVD. See this link for more information.

A summary of the first chapter follows:

Last summer in Taishi Village of Panyu District in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, hundreds of farmers organized to impeach their village chief, who had governed the village of 2,000 people for more than a dozen years without any elections, meetings, or briefings with villagers of his policies and governance. A lot of land was seized for building factories and compensation was believed to be mostly pocketed by village officials.

Villagers, most women and elderly, rounded up the village government compound to protect the account books from being taken by the government before an audit. The government decided to send in police and armed police to dispel the masses. Clashes followed. Many protestors were detained.

Although unarmed, these fearless villagers fought on. They almost clashed with incoming District officials, escorted by security, who came to register the villagers who insisted on impeaching the village chief. The officials wanted to do their job inside the village government building, which villagers strongly resisted, wary of officials taking away account books which are evidence of land deal corruption by the village chief.

Two lawyers, who represented arrested villagers during the riot, also came to the impeachment registration to brief family members of the arrested about legal processes and check on the situation for the villagers. This was a good sign as a legal process was started to impeach a village chief, said one of the lawyers. But the situation for the arrested and other villagers were not optimistic, he added.

UPDATE (4/29/06): For an extensive report on the background of the Taishi movement, see this link. See also “The Taishi (China) Elections” by the EastSouthWestNorth blog. Also, here is a song written by a Chinese rock band (translated by CDT) in 2005 about the events at Taishi:

A new district in Guangzhou called Panyu,
Taishi Village in Panyu shocked the officials
Villagers in Taishi dared to remove the leaders
Men, women, old and young learned the laws

Here comes the government auditing the petition
Here come the officials guiding the election
Here come the policemen arresting the activists
Here comes the newspaper alleging they are the illegal minority

Officials, officials,
It is people you are serving
People, people
How vast the pain you are suffering

Officials, officials,
It is people you are serving
People, people
How vast the pain you are suffering

Whose food and clothing are you taking?
Whose food and clothing are you giving?


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