A villager who led mass protests against corrupt local officials in southern China has been named the new party head of the village, a fellow resident said yesterday.
Lin Zuluan (林祖鑾) was one of the leaders of a rare revolt in Wukan, whose residents clashed violently with police and drove out local Chinese Communist Party leaders late last year in a row over what they said were illegal government land seizures.
The protest in Guangdong Province became a nationwide symbol of rising public anger over a plethora of perceived injustices, from corruption to income disparities.
Lin, who is in his 60s, was named party leader on Sunday after villagers drove out the incumbent, a businessman who headed Wukan for 42 years and was accused of involvement in the land grabs.
“This is a decision that everyone in Wukan supports and it is an important move that will help resolve the land and village finance disputes,” a villager surnamed Zhang said.
“The former party committee has been dissolved. The former head of the village party committee and other members of the committee have been detained and are under investigation for corruption,” Zhang said.
Anger boiled over in Wukan on Dec. 9, when detained community leader Xue Jinbo (薛錦波) died in police custody allegedly after being beaten, prompting Guangdong’s government to intervene on behalf of the villagers.
The villagers ended their blockade after it promised to release three detained protest leaders, return Xue’s body to relatives and send a team of provincial officials to Wukan to investigate the claims of illegal land grabs.
“The land issue is still not resolved, but the investigation is making progress and the villagers are optimistic of a positive outcome,” Zhang said.
The three detained protesters have now been freed, but Zhang said Xue’s family was still negotiating with authorities over terms for the release of his body.