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Beijing Residents Protest Against Pollution

Associated Press in Beijing – Updated on Sep 01, 2008

Scores of people protested in Beijing against a garbage disposal plant they say has been releasing noxious fumes into the air, with two demonstrators hurt in a scuffle with security officials, a rights group said on Sunday.

The Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said the protesters on Saturday called for the resignation of the top environment official in Beijing’s Chaoyang district, where the Gao’antun garbage incineration plant is located.

The rights group said about 500 people were involved in the protest, but the number could not immediately be confirmed. The Beijing Public Security Bureau’s information office said on Sunday that it had no information about the incident.

The demonstration was held near the plant, and a tussle between protesters and the authorities resulted in two protesters being hurt, the group said in a statement.

The rights group also said one of the organisers of the protest went missing on Saturday night and was presumably taken away by security officials.

An employee of a restaurant near the road junction where the demonstration was held said “many people” took part in a protest, with some wearing face masks.

The employee, who only gave her surname, Zhang, said she was not clear about the reason for the gathering.

The group said the protest was organised by residents of two apartment complexes in the district. Telephone numbers of the complexes were not immediately available.

A man from a team set up by the Chaoyang district government to look into the issue said about 100 people participated in the protest.

According to the rights group, thousands of residents living near the garbage disposal plant have suffered from rank and poisonous air released by the plant.

It said the plant had closed during the Olympic Games, which were held in Beijing in August, but resumed operations after the games ended on August 24.

The statement said respiratory and other health problems have surfaced among some residents near the plant.

Separately, a petitioner from Hubei province was detained and sent to a labour camp for 15 months after accepting a phone interview by a foreign journalist during the Olympics, another rights group said Sunday.

On August 28, Wang Guilan was sent for re-education through labour for “disturbing the public order”, and was believed to be currently held at a detention centre in Enshi, a city in Hubei, the overseas-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders said in a statement.

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