More than one thousand migrant workers took to the streets of the western Chinese city of Ruian Monday, after one of their own died under unclear circumstances. Despite Chinese censorship of sensitive incidents like this, activists have managed to distribute videos of the riot.
The local government said the riot was set off by the death of Yang Zhi, a 19-year-old migrant worker. Protesters accused his employer of having killed him during an argument about his pay.
According to China’s official news agency Xinhua, the migrant workers headed to the local authorities' offices to demand explanations for Yang Zhi’s death. They reportedly managed to get through the iron fence surrounding the building and vandalised cars.
The website “Chinese Jasmine Revolution” (in reference to Tunisia's “Jasmine Revolution”) posted several photos and videos of this incident. According to the website, the violence was triggered by a statement from local authorities expressing their support for the factory that reportedly employed Yang Zhi. The site puts the number of protesters at several thousand.
This video, which appears to have been filmed by a protester, has disappeared from the Chinese video-sharing site Youku, but is still available on the “Chinese Jasmine Revolution” website. It shows a small group of policeman, protected by helmets and shields, hiding behind a building while the crowd of protesters can be heard roaring in anger. At 1:06 minutes, protesters attack the officers by throwing projectiles at them, forcing them to flee. “Chinese Jasmine Revolution” says that more policemen then arrived to quell the protest, which ended during the afternoon.
According to Xinhua, the police ended up forcing the employer in question to pay 300,000 yuan (about 38,400 euros) to the victim’s family. No other sources have as of yet confirmed this.
According to official studies, some 90,000 “mass incidents” like this one take place each year in China. The images of these demonstrations, however, rarely make it past the government’s censors and into the media.
The above photos were published on the website Molihua.org