Police in southwest China have detained 100 people, including 39 gang members, for their roles in a riot last month that saw the torching of government buildings and official cars, state media said on Monday.
The violent protest brought 30,000 residents on to the streets of Weng’an, in Guizhou province, in an unnerving outburst of discontent as China prepares to host the Olympic Games in August.
Crowds stormed police and government headquarters on June 28 after allegations spread that police had covered up the rape and murder of a local teenage girl, seeking to protect the son of a local official.
Forensic experts have conducted three autopsies on the 16-year-old victim, Li Shufen, and have repeatedly ruled out the possibility of sexual assault or murder, saying she died by drowning.
Read also 100 people detained over violence in SW China protest by Xinhua, and Police arrest 100 over southwest China riot by AFP.
Meanwhile, Caijing (English) has come out with a long report on Weng’an detailing some of the grievances of people in Weng’an that local officials admit may have been the ultimate cause of the riots:
Official provincial reports indicate that crime, including theft and gang fights, have been rampant in Weng An. Only about half the crimes are solved by local police, souring public views of the government.
The community well remembers last summer’s late-night attack on a schoolgirl and her boyfriend by the Ximen River. The boy was beaten and the girl raped by four of the five attackers. Two hours passed before police arrived.
Another sore spot stems from the relocation of 45,812 people, including 32,553 farmers, to make way for the Goupitan hydroelectric station — the biggest in the province. Complaints focused on heavy-handed house demolitions and inadequate compensation for displaced residents. At least one struggle turned bloody.
Weng An is also home to phosphorus mines and considerable coal reserves, creating clashing interests over mine ownership. Some locals blame land-grabs on government officials, including administrative and judicial powers who work with criminal gangs.