Tuesday, May 26, 2009

CHINA FARMERS RAID POLICE STATION

Tea workers in China (file photo)
The row involves missed social security payments

Hundreds of Chinese tea farmers have attacked a police station following a row about social security payments.

The farmers used stones, bricks and hoes, and burned four police cars, according to the state-run China Daily.

The workers are reported to be angry about arrears in the payment of medical insurance, unemployment benefits and pensions.

Thousands of similar incidents are reported each year, although most are usually isolated, local disputes.

Tea farmers near the city of Yingde, in Guangdong Province, have been complaining about the missed payments for years, according to the China Daily.

They have staged demonstrations outside the city government offices twice recently in an attempt to get officials to resolve the problems.

Map

This latest incident was sparked when four farmers were arrested last week for raising funds to organise further demonstrations.

About 300 farmers gathered outside the police station on Saturday demanding the release of those arrested.

They went on the rampage for four-and-a-half hours when they believed one of the arrested organisers had been killed.

In the unrest, three police officers and one farmer were injured, according to a city government spokesman quoted by the newspaper. He denied any farmer had been killed.

"The municipal government of Yingde has spared no effort in dealing with the problems. It really takes time," the official was quoted as saying.

Ordinary Chinese people, particularly in the countryside, stage regular protests against the local authorities or police, often over accusations of corruption.

"This kind of violence is happening more and more at the grassroots level, and grassroots governments should play a more effective role in dealing with complaints," lecturer Xu Binbin, of the South China Normal University, told the China Daily.

BBC NEWS REPORT.

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