GUIYANG - Officials in Guizhou province have admitted that residents of Weng'an county have been harboring social grievances, following a violent protest over the weekend sparked by the death of a 17-year-old girl in the county.
At a panel discussion on the protest on Wednesday, officials from the provincial and local governments said local authorities in Weng'an had failed to solve disputes over the work at mines, demolition of homes for urban development, relocation of residents for reservoir construction and the reform of State-owned enterprises, among other issues.
The panel suggested that Shen Guirong, chief of the Weng'an public security bureau, and Luo Laiping, political commissar of the bureau, should be removed from their posts.
It also requested an investigation of major county government and Party leaders over the matter.
"Some legitimate interests (of the people) were not effectively protected, and some people bore grievances," said a Guizhou Daily report on Thursday.
Up to 30,000 people were involved in the protest over the weekend, which was prompted by a controversial police report into the death of Li Shufen last month. Police had concluded that the 17-year-old drowned, but her family and relatives said that she was raped and killed.
Li Xiuhua (second from right), father of Li Shufen, the 17-year-old woman whose death late last month led to violent protests in Weng'an county of Guizhou province over the weekend, speaks to reporters yesterday at his Weng'an home. [China Daily]
Guizhou officials at the panel yesterday also blamed rampant crimes in the county, between 600 and 800 cases annually, for the recent discontent. About half of the crimes had not been solved. Theft, robbery and fighting were said to be frequent occurrences.
Xinhua reporters found most local people being able to name several gangs during their interviews, with residents said to be feeling insecure because of the gangsters' activities.
Police on Wednesday had announced a four-month crackdown on gangs who were accused of inciting violence during the protest.
Luo Yi, police chief of Qiannan prefecture, which administers Weng'an, said the crackdown would "target gangs and criminal elements in Weng'an and its neighboring areas".
Police would also investigate the illegal possession of guns and explosives, gambling, and other activities of organized crime, he said.
Police believe 134 people committed the destruction, and later took 59 into custody. Currently, 16 are in detention.
Wang Fuyu, provincial deputy Party chief, and Vice-Governor Huang Kangsheng joined the discussion on Wednesday.
Wang, who is also heading an investigation into the protest, urged Weng'an officials to listen to the voice of the people and solve the problems that were closely related to their interests.
He said the violent protest would not have happened if local officials had communicated with angry people in time after the first signs of protest emerged.