China: repression follows peasant protests over reproductive rights
Police in southern China's Guangxi region arrested 28 as thousands staged angry protests against draconian local enforcement of the government's family-planning policy. In Bobai county, more than 3,000 people smashed through the gates of a town government compound, setting fire to vehicles and damaging files and office equipment. Disturbances were reported in sveen Bobai towns following a drive by local officials to enforce fines for families who failed to comply with China's national one-child policy.
The Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post newspaper quoted local residents as saying the officials had "made fortunes by imposing arbitrary fines." One woman told the newspaper that her house was "stripped bare" by officials after she was unable to pay a fine of 26,000 yuan ($3,377) for having a second child. (Indo-Asian News Service, May 23)
Residents report that uthorities even forced women pregnant with their first child to undergo abortions because they had not completed paperwork required before getting pregnant. Billboards lining the raods read: "Support the one-child policy" and "Happiness is to have one child."
At Wang Mao village, residents said they were beaten by police who ransacked their homes. "Our children were sitting on the table and they barged in and turned the table over and were screaming and shouting at us," an elderly woman said. (AFP, May 25)