Thursday, July 28, 2011

Riot in south China after death of fruit vendor

July 27, 2011 Reuters

Angry residents in a southern Chinese city went on the rampage after
officials apparently beat to death a disabled fruit vendor, a state media
said on Wednesday, in the latest incident of social unrest in the world's
second-largest economy.

The China Daily said that thousands of people gathered on the streets of
Anshun in Guizhou province on Tuesday afternoon, throwing stones at police
and overturning a government vehicle.

The riot was sparked after urban management officers -- a quasi-police
force that enforces laws against begging and other petty offences -- were
suspected of beating the vendor to death, the newspaper said.

"The unidentified vendor died in front of the gate of a market ... which
led to the gathering of the local people," it cited a government statement
as saying.

"Before the incident occurred, urban management officers were working in
the area," it added, saying the statement gave no other details.

The newspaper showed a picture of an urban management vehicle which had
been overturned, along with smashed windows and doors that had been torn

Xinhua news agency said around 30 protesters and 10 police officers were
injured in the unrest.

The elder brother of the dead man has "consented to (an)autopsy and asked
police to seek justice", it added. "Police are questioning six city
management staff members involved in the case."

Footage on China's popular website, the country's answer to
YouTube, showed a large crowed gathered in the street, and what seemed to
be a body on the ground shaded by umbrellas.

An overturned vehicle could be seen in the distance, along with many
police officers and a black armored car used by China's riot police.

Reuters could not authenticate the footage, nor when it was taken. Calls
to the Anshun government seeking comment went unanswered.

"It was a total mess," one onlooker surnamed Jiang told the China Daily.
"The people threw stones at the police officers and my feet were hit by
flying rocks."

Hong Kong's Ming Pao newspaper said that the police used water cannons to
disperse the protesters, who finally left the scene late in the evening.

In 2008, crowds stormed police and government headquarters in another part
of Guizhou 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

China's stability-obsessed rulers get nervous about any sort of protest or

Earlier this month, a court in the southern export hub of Guangdong
province jailed 11 people for their roles in riots that hit a city there
in June.

In 2007, China had more than 80,000 "mass incidents", up from more than
60,000 in 2006, according to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Many
involved no more than dozens protesting against local officials over
complaints about corruption, abuse of power, pollution or poor wages.

No authoritative estimates of the number of protests, riots and mass
petitions since then have been released.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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