Chinese farmers revolt against industrial expansion

From the UPI:

ZHEJIANG, China, April 12: Rioting by farmers in eastern China has forced the closure of 13 new chemical factories the farmers claim are poisoning their families and crops. The protests began in the rural village of Huaxi March 24 when farmers began erecting roadblocks to stop deliveries to and from the factories that produce fertilizer, dyes and pesticides.

Thousands of farmers turned violent Sunday and overturned at least 40 buses and dozens of cars. They were met by about 3,000 police with electric batons and tear gas, The Times of London reported Tuesday.

There were unconfirmed reports two elderly protesters killed in the riot, and more than a hundred people were treated for minor injuries.

The chemical plants were built in 2002. Farmers claim the waste is poisoning wells for their drinking and crop irrigation water. They also claim the effluents are causing stillborn babies and birth defects.

In China, farmers do not own land, but instead receive 30-year leases from the state that allows the government to reallocate the land for industrial use without the farmers’ consent.