Agam's Gecko
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Dongzhou villagers face riot police
Townspeople kneel before troops of the 'People's Armed Police' begging for the return of the bodies of their loved ones. Officials have sought to pay the villagers for bodies which police failed to recover after killing them.
Photo: Epoch Times

n Saturday, the Chinese government finally admitted that the Dongzhou incident had in fact taken place, and that people had been killed by the police. Previous official statements that the villagers ("troublemakers") had viciously attacked the police with bombs and other weapons, and that accounts of any deaths were unfounded gossip, have been slightly ammended over the weekend. It's still all the protesters' fault -- they caused the officers of the People's Armed Police to "fire their weapons in alarm," resulting in the "accidental shooting" which killed "three" citizens. Non-CCP sources report estimates between 20 and 70 deaths, with dozens still missing.

[The photo above is strongly reminiscent of that horrible night in Bangkok -- May 17, 1992 -- which I recalled here in Saturday's article. The same configuration of armed troops facing people kneeling in the street, but on a considerably larger scale.]

Chinese media also reported the detention of the police official who gave the order to open fire, although some sources noted that this is a form of detention which is not equivalent to a formal arrest. According to reports from Sound of Hope Radio (wai Gateway Pundit), several PLA tanks have been sent to standby along the roads outside the village. The Epoch Times continues to have the lead in English language coverage of this event, reporting on Sunday that police shootings continued well after the initial incident on Dec. 6. A villager, contacted on December 8, described the situation:
"Yesterday, we were busy dealing with the problems caused by the incident. We counted the number of dead and injured and sent six corpses to Dongzhou Hospital. A severely injured villager died and there are still 30 to 40 people unaccounted for. No one knows whether they are dead or hiding. We heard that there are still corpses in the mountains yet we are forbidden to enter the area. The town's main representatives are in danger. As of now, the authorities do not simply arrest and then sentence people, but shoot them at will. A villager was shot dead in public yesterday afternoon."
This bit is a little creepy, and gives me more flashbacks from Black May 13 years ago:
A villager said that the authorities attempted to destroy the corpses. After the massacre on the night of December 6, the authorities cremated some of the bodies and sent others to the seashore for disposal.
Epoch Times also offers a link to an NTDTV video report in English from that page, or just try it from here (Real format). Here is a listing of all The Epoch Times reports on the story, including several pages of photos smuggled out by their journalists. Keep in mind that Epoch Times is a confirmed anti-communist news source on Chinese issues, but there's no doubt that they have the most in depth coverage at this point. Yesterday's report carries more indications that the shootings were anything but "accidental":
According to a report from the Apple Daily on December 10, Chen, a villager who escaped from the tragedy said, "It was so brutal. One villager was shot in the leg. He kneeled down to beg for his life. But they dragged him over to a pile of grass and shot him twice..."

According to the villagers, the military police reported that they did not open fire. But the villagers had collected many cartridge cases imprinted with the numbers "91" and "61". These cartridges are believed to be from submachine guns.
Associated Press reported on Monday that the shootings went on for at least 12 hours, and describes vehicles driving through town while their loudspeakers blared ... "Righteousness suppresses evil tendencies." An AP reporter was detained for several hours on Sunday, questioned about who she had interviewed, and warned not to return.

There is some question as to whether this is in fact the first such case of protesting civilians being shot down by security forces in China, since the Beijing Massacre of 1989 (as I wrote on Saturday). This claim has been made in several of the international wire service accounts. But there was an incident in Sichuan province just over a year ago, at a place called Hanyuan which call the claim into question. That story will give you some idea of the difficulties journalists face in any attempts to verify these incidents. VOA reporter Luis Ramirez was honoured with the Human Rights Press Award for that story. The Awards are sponsored by Amnesty International Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Journalists Association and the Foreign Correspondents' Club-Hong Kong for reporting in Asia.

One of the accounts I linked to on Saturday, from Radio Free Asia, apparently became inoperative. Here is a working link for that. In a later posted account (dated Friday but updated on Monday), RFA notes that officials have launched a major "information offensive" as phone service is disrupted and computer networks are shut down. Families who have lost loved ones in the violence are being closely watched and followed, and when phone calls get through, they are tapped. More on the fate of the "missing":
"That night, there were injured people who were dragged aboard police vehicles and were shot to death," said one man. "The police then took the bodies to the crematorium near the beach, but because there was no signature on the death certificate for cremation they threw the bodies into the sea instead. This definitely happened. This is not a rumor. If there were rumors going around, I wouldn't tell them to you."

"The bodies were discovered when they began to float in the seawater. They keep saying on the broadcasts the that 'counterrevolutionary leaders' are terrorists.
And in classic communist-style reliance on their ministries of propaganda -- and the official Party mouth organ, the Xinhua News Agency -- journalists are instructed to simply "read the paper":
Officials contacted by RFA Monday declined to add anything to the official version of events reported by Xinhua.

A duty officer at the Shanwei municipal government propaganda department said all the relevant information had already been reported in the newspapers.

"This has all been very clearly and extensively reported in the newspapers. If you read that you'll be fine," he said.

A Foreign Affairs Ministry official in Beijing said she didn't know the details of the situation. "I don't know much about this. Perhaps you could leave your details, and we'll get in touch with you if we get information on this matter."
Yeah, I'll just bet you will. And how about that directive: "Read the paper, and you'll be fine." Everybody remember the SARS coverup two years ago? Reading Xinhua and waiting on MFA statements would have been the last place to find any truth on either the SARS cases themselves or the CCP's blatant coverup of the facts.

For some good roundups of bloggers' work on this story, see the new Pajamas Media portal -- Friday's Trouble in Workers' Paradise, Continued and Sunday's The aftermath of the Dongzhou shootings. And keep checking with Gateway Pundit, who's keeping well on top of this story.


embers of Indonesia's largest Muslim organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama, will again be helping to provide security for the country's Christian churches this Christmas, reports Reuters. I think with a membership of 40 million, it may be as accurate to say "the world's largest Muslim organisation," as I don't know of another that comes close. Nahdlatul Ulama has a very moderate orientation, formerly headed by Abdurrahman Wahid -- the beloved "Gus Dur" who later became Indonesia's fourth president. NU has always opposed sectarianism and Wahhabist fanatacism, and strove to reinforce the natural tolerance of Indonesia's majority Muslim population, which numbers around 200 million.

The NU's youth organisation known as Banser usually provide security for NU's mass events and conferences, and have assisted with Christmas security in years past. In the rash of bombings of Christian churches in 2000, one Banser volunteer was killed in East Java. Volunteers from other religious faiths have plans to join in the effort. Tatang Hidayat, national coordinator of NU's Banser group said, "We have an annual programme to set up posts to secure Christmas. For this year, I have contacted groups from other religions like the Hindhus and Buddhists and they have responded positively." Way to go, kawan-kawan. Show the hardheads what Islam is really about!

Thanks for the tip from Pickled Politics, which was via Harry's Place, in turn via Glenn Reynolds. However the page they all linked to seems to have coding problems, so I found the Reuters story elsewhere.


eaders who were here at the beginning of August should remember my writing about a great journalist named Steven Vincent, who was murdered in Basra, Iraq on August 2. Following some particularly nasty rumour-mongering by the likes of Prof. Juan Cole, Steven's widow Lisa Ramaci was obliged to interupt her grieving process and defend the good name of her husband. Her letter was published on a sympathetic milblog.

Now Lisa has agreed to do an interview with Fayrouz on her blog Iraqi In America. It's a really wonderful read, full of insights into the kind of man Steven was and what it was like to share life with him. Lisa brings us up to date on Steven's translator, Nour (who was badly wounded after they both were abducted, and left for dead). Lisa still hopes to help Nour to come to America, as Steven was attempting to do before his murder. Lisa also hopes to obtain Steven's unfinished work on Basra, and get it published. His laptop and notebooks are currently considered as evidence in the murder investigation, and are being held by the FBI.
However, I have asked for copies of everything in both the computer and the books, and once I have access to them, then yes, I will try and write the book in his stead. I want to call it "Basra: The Final Journey of Steven Vincent."
Take some time to read the whole thing, as they say.


he Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes has once again been denied access to unclassified Iraqi documents presently undergoing "exploitation" in a project located in Doha, Qatar. According to his latest article, the entire program is in danger of being closed down, with only a fraction of the documents having been translated and evaluated. Hayes had previously published (and I quoted on this page) a list of titles he had acquired outside official channels. He has now obtained more details on some of these, but the Dept. of Defence has declined to release them in what might be the last chance of them seeing the light of day.

The project in Doha sounds as though it is (was?) a very large undertaking. But out of more than 2 million "exploitable items" only about 50,000 have been processed. Hayes had previously reported that over 200 translators were working on this, but in this latest dispatch he makes a correction. There were more than 200 persons working per shift, with three round the clock shifts -- making an estimated manpower count of around 700 people. One would expect the Bush administration to recognise the importance of learning as much as can be learned from this data from the Saddam regime, much of which might still be useful in the present time -- above and beyond gaining a clearer picture of the past, including the regime's relationships with al Qaeda and other terrorist networks.

Some of the new, more detailed summaries are quite suggestive, others less so. Hayes quotes several in his piece, including:
Title: Intelligence coded memo by two IIS officers containing info on various topics; weapons boat, Palestinians training in Iraq, etc.
Short Description: Lists Palestinians trained in Iraq, etc.
Agency: DIA
Document Date: Mar-02
Document #: IISP-2003-00038100
But I thought Saddam had nothing to do with terrorism... Palestinians in training...? Here's another (I like this one):
Title: Presidential instruction from Hussein concerning mass graves in southern Iraq, and how to handle the PR/media fallout.
Short Description: Concerning mass graves found in the south: Check for nuclear radiation, identify bodies, ensure that CNN is the first news agency onsite. Any funerals should have an international impact. Signed by Hussein.
Agency: DIA
Document Date: Feb-01
Document #: ISGZ-2004-00224003
The plan was apparently to blame mass graves in the south on US forces' actions during the first Gulf War. Classic Saddam -- blame his own mass graves on somebody else. Who might he blame these ones on? What I like on this one is the CNN reference. Eason Jordan famously admitted to having made deals with Saddam in order to keep his Baghdad bureau open. Sure enough, Saddam keeps up his end of the bargain. "[E]nsure that CNN is the first news agency onsite." Guaranteed of a "scoop" when the dictator is on your side.

There are others referring to weapons storage sites and concealment, as well as "Chemical, Biological Agent Destruction" (dated Feb. 2003). But isn't the conventional wisdom now that Saddam didn't even have any of those weapons? Was he actually destroying them the month before the invasion? Perhaps we'll never know for sure, if this program is actually terminated before its task is complete. The best we can do for now, is not "Saddam had no WMD's!" but rather "A lot of weapons and weapon components are still unaccounted for."

I'd like to get a look at this one:
Title: IIS Correspondence for the Iraq Embassy in the Philippines and Iraqi MFA [Ministry of Foreign Affairs].
Short Description: Various correspondence e.g. visa forms, trade delegations, full reports on the connections between Abu Sayaf and the Qadafi Charity Establishment. Report on a certain individual traveling to Pakistan and involvements with bin Laden.
Agency: DIA
Document Date: Mar-01
Document #: ISGP-2003-00014100
I'd also love to know if there's anything regarding the embassy in Jakarta. There was one particular Iraqi official that I would see (on TV) attending every pre-Sept. 11 gathering of Islamist groups in Indonesia, particularly around the early period of the Malukku conflict. These were meetings of solidarity with the now defunct Laskar Jihad, Abu Bakar Ba'asyir and his friends, and the like. Iraq's Manila embassy is well known to have been engaged with Abu Sayaf, and Qadafi was funding them (he also paid a large "ransom" for Abu Sayaf hostages, and actually received praise for this, um, alternative funding method). It's a good bet that the Jakarta embassy was involved with some shady stuff as well. And what's that about "involvement with bin Laden"? I thought there supposedly wasn't any. Maybe conventional wisdom isn't all it's cooked up to be. Well, we already know there was a relationship, we just don't know yet how deep it went. These documents could well hold the answer to that, and many more questions.

In two days, the Iraqi people will take yet another giant step into their future when they go to the polls for the third time this year. They'll elect a new, permanent legislature under the auspices of their own constitution -- one that their elected representatives wrote and negotiated compromises over, and which the people themselves have ratified. Millions of them will show their courage on Thursday by going to polling booths across the country, in the face of consistent threats against them by Zarqawi and his thugs, and the Baathist rejectionists. I think the Iraqi voter deserves much more recognition than the meager notice the world's media has given on the previous two occasions this year. Since the Nobel Peace Prize is already taken (and the Nobel committee has been badly tarnished with the Pinter fiasco anyway), how about the Iraqi Voter for Time's Person of the Year?

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