Sichuan county denies protestors killed

By Cao Siqi Source:Global Times Published: 2015-5-19 0:43:01

Says only injuries after march for rail link degenerates into ‘group riot’

The local government of Linshui in Southwest China's Sichuan Province on Monday denied violently repressing its residents, who took to the streets to demand a regional railway pass through their county.

Thousands of residents in Linshui county gathered in Saturday morning and marched on the streets for several hours, demanding the planned railway linking Dazhou, Sichuan to Chongqing municipality pass through Linshui instead of the neighboring city of Guang'an.

Linshui authorities published a statement on their website Monday, saying that there were no deaths in the protest despite some 30 police officers and 38 residents being injured, refuting media reports saying that four people allegedly died and more than 100 were injured.

The statement said that the peaceful march by residents was manipulated by some people with ulterior motives and degenerated into a "group riot."

Authorities said that 40 people who disrupted public order, traffic and damaged public property have been detained.

Photographs and video circulated on social media, which were not confirmed by authorities and were later deleted, showed protestors throwing stones at security forces and others being beaten with batons. Other photos showed a smashed police bus, an upended ambulance and protestors wearing blood-soaked clothes.

According to the government statement, over 100 residents gathered at a local highway exit at 9 pm Saturday after the majority of marchers had gone home. Some began to attack police, burned an ambulance and destroyed another two cars, injuring over 30 police officers and 38 civilians.

The statement added that police officers had demonstrated restraint at all times and tried to talk to protestors in a calm, rational fashion, but some protestors continued to arbitrarily disrupt transportation and attack police and public property.

Authorities said that at 4:30 pm on Sunday, several residents were incited into re-assembling at the highway, with 30 of them shouting provocatively while carrying weapons. Over 20 leaders were taken away forcibly; nobody was injured in the second incident.

"Some individuals' outrageous acts and violent confrontations violated laws and went against local residents' wishes, which have damaged the city's image and harmed [residents'] interests," said a letter that Linshui government delivered to residents.

"Local authorities have stayed rational during the protest, but some activists tried to cause a disturbance by fanning public emotions," a local resident surnamed Du said.

"We want a railway and prosperity. How could we develop using such violent means?" said another anonymous resident.

The Sichuan Development and Reform Commission also announced Monday that the proposed regional railway remains under study. It is a long-term project and has not yet been included in provincial and national plans. The commission added that after construction receives approval, local authorities will discuss when and how to start, construction standards and the route, and will solicit public opinions.

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