Wukan police offer rewards for arrest of 'criminals' following mass protests

China cracks down on village protestors
China cracks down on village protestors

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China cracks down on village protestors 01:25

Story highlights

  • Police offer $15,000 reward after violent protests
  • Locals have been protesting the arrest of several village leaders
  • The village was a rare example of democracy in China following successful 2011 protests

Hong Kong (CNN)Police in China's Guangdong province are offering large rewards for the arrest of five men following violent protests that broke out in the small fishing village of Wukan Tuesday.

Videos and photos taken by locals and shared online showed villagers hurling rocks and other projectiles at heavily armed riot police holding shields and firearms.
    A witness in the village told CNN he'd seen police "attacking villagers" and that "multiple people were injured."
    On Wednesday, the Lufeng City Public Security Bureau, which oversees Wukan, offered a 100,000 yuan ($15,000) reward for detaining any one of five "suspected criminals": Wei Yonghan, Cai Jiaxia, Yang Shaoji, Liu Hanchai and Hong Yongzhong.
    Photos of five alleged Wukan protest leaders broadcast on local TV. Police are offering a $15,000 reward for their arrest.
    "Those who harbor or shelter these five shall be prosecuted in accordance with the law," police said, adding that those who took part in demonstrations could be "pardoned from legal responsibilities" if they stopped protesting immediately.
    Wukan has been a nexus of resistance to local authorities since 2011, when mass protests over land rights and corruption won a compromise that allowed the village to hold free elections, a rarity in one party-controlled China and a move that made it world famous.

    On lockdown

    While the violence has largely subsided, Wukan remains heavily militarized, witnesses told CNN. Photos from the village showed large numbers of riot police patrolling the village.
    Roadblocks have been set up around the area and information controls are in place. On Tuesday, authorities warned people of sharing "doctored images" of the "so-called Wukan incident."
    "They did not tell us why we cannot go in, or when this will end, so we simply turned back," one driver told CNN after she was blocked from reentering the village by police. She added that motorbikes were allowed to pass, but cars were stopped.
    "Why can't Wukan people go back to Wukan village, I don't understand."
    Patrick Poon, China researcher at Amnesty International, said news coming from the village was being tightly controlled online.
    "The only platform you can get information from is the official government Weibo," he said, adding that Amnesty has also had reports of citizens from other local areas being prevented from entering the village.
    "This proves how oppressive the situation is (in Wukan)."