China: peasants arrested after clash at coal mine

Police in Yulin, Shaanxi province, detained eight people following a July 17 clash at a coal mine that left dozens injured. The eight suspects include both residents of nearby Fanjiahe village, Hengshan county, and workers at the Shandong Coal Mine. The clash involved nearly 200 and left 87 injured, authorities said. It began when more than 100 villagers, armed with shovels and other tools, entered the mining site and smashed equipment in a bid to stop production.

The Shandong Coal Mine, employing 210 and producing 300,000 tons of coal annually, was founded in 1995 as a collectively-owned entity by the residents of Fanjiahe village. A shortage of capital forced the villagers to seek outside investors, and Li Zhao, a businessman from Shandong province, became as a partner. When Li renewed the mine’s license in 2000, he changed the business into a private firm—controlled by himself. The villagers demanded the authorities nullify the change, and brought suit against the provincial land and resources department. A court in Yulin ruled in favor of the villagers in 2005 and declared the new license null and void, and a provincial court upheld the ruling in 2007. But Li failed to respond to the court ruling—with apparent impunity. (China Daily, July 20)

A nearly identical case was reported from neighboring Shanxi province last year.

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