The village once hailed across China as a model for governance finds itself in yet more turmoil.
According to the Associated Press, police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to suppress the demonstrations, and arrested protest leaders. Unverified video posted on social media appeared to show protesters clashing in the street with police.
Authorities appear to have the village on lockdown. “Riot police are stationed at the entrance to our village. No-one can go in or out,” the BBC cited one woman surnamed Cai.
The latest protests erupted following the sentencing last Thursday of Lin Zuluan — who had been elected Wukan’s village chief in 2012 — to three years in prison for corruption. Many villagers believe Lin is the victim of trumped-up charges.
In June, protests broke out in Wukan following Lin’s arrest and a subsequent televised confession, during which he admitted to allegedly receiving bribes. He had been campaigning against what he said were continuing attempts by developers to amass land in the village.
Local police in Lufeng, the city that controls Wukan, told the BBC that 13 villagers have been arrested for “disturbing public order.” It added that villagers were “constantly spreading rumors,” and that police action was taken “to protect the interest of the public and return the village life to order.”
Wukan rose to fame after Beijing allowed the villagers to elect their own village committee in 2012, in an attempt to resolve a months-long conflict between farmers and authorities over unchecked land seizures the year before. The so-called “Wukan model” was even once praised by state media.