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Farmers and Agricultural Workers' Protest Against Transport Price Rises Met with Police Repression in China
Transport buses were destroyed in response to police attacks on demonstrators. (source: Boxun)
According to international media reports, over four days from 9 March through to 12 March 20,000 agricultural workers and farmers protested in the town of Yongzhou, Hunan province, China over increased transport prices. The protests, initially peaceful, were sparked when local bus services, which were recently privatised, raised fares by 100% to 200% in the period during Chinese New Year and then refused to return prices to their original level.

Map Source: BBC
However, police and government authorities refused to tolerate the peaceful demonstrations and attacked protestors with batons and electric cattle prods. In what followed protestors became outraged and attacked and burnt buses belonging to the transport company. Government authorities quickly mobilised more than 2,000 police and security forces to suppress the protests.

Differing reports suggest that one person was killed and more than 60 people injured in the police attacks. Since the incident locals have been warned against speaking to foreign media about the protest or providing photographic evidence.

What had infuriated local protestors was the belief that the privatisation of the bus services had been done in collusion with local party officials, who were believed to have been recieving pay-offs through the increased fares.

The Chinese government euphemistically has called events like this 'mass incidents' and has said about 23,000 such 'incidents' occurred in 2006. There is no way to verify this figure, and it is likely to be an underestimate, but even if approaching the truth, this means more than 60 protests per day are occurring.

The continuing refusal of the Chinese government to recognise the democratic rights of its citizens can only further induce protest and will only lead to an intensification of corruption and inequality.

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