China: man killed for filming repression

Wei Wenhua (41), who was filming clashes between villagers and officials on his camera phone, died after a beating from the goverment officials.

Submitted by jef costello on January 10, 2008

Mr Wenhua was attacked on Monday in the village of Wanba, outside of Tianmen City in the central Hubei province. Villagers were protesting against the dumping of rubbish on a wasteland site by their homes by the city's refuse service, claiming it was polluting the air and local water supply. Villagers, who had demanded that dumping licenses not be renewed, resorted to direct action to prevent the trucks dumping waste and there were clashes between villagers and 50 urban administrative inspectors who had come to enforce the dumping. At least five villagers were injured.

Wei Wenhua, an executive for a local construction company, was attacked after filming the events on his mobile phone. He was reportedly beaten for over five minutes by the inspectors and died before he reached the hospital. The attack began after he refused to delete the recordings and witnesses report officials shouting "beat him to death"

Wenhua's brother-in-law claimed that there had been a spontaneous demonstration by thousands after his death. Local party officers officially denied these reports although they have been confirmed off the record.

The state news agency reports that local police have made four arrests, after initial reports of 24 arrests, and claim to be investigating over 100 people. These 'inspectors' who are charged with a variety of tasks, including riding the streets of illegal vendors, are a para-police force, usually wearing riot police-style protective equipment. They are often used by local officials to enforce policy and are widely accused of using heavy-handed, thuggish tactics when faced with resistance.