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China is preventing its citizens and the international community from finding out what happened in the southern village of Dongzhou, where as many as 20 protesters may have been killed by security forces on 6 December 2005, say Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF).

Authorities have thrown a security perimeter around the village and set up checkpoints on all roads leading to the village, reports RSF.

Local media have been restricted to using reports from the official Chinese news agency Xinhua, including reports about the number of villagers reportedly killed in the protests.

Official sources claim three people died. Villagers have told foreign journalists and human rights groups that as many as 20 were killed.

Internet service providers, including Xinhua and Sohu, have also been ordered to censor all messages about the events on their online discussion forums. When RSF tried posting the message (in Chinese) "People died in Dongzhou" it was automatically rejected by Xinhua ( and Sohu (

The Dongzhou incident is the first known shooting of public protestors since the June 1989 massacre of democracy advocates in Tiananmen Square, says Human Rights Watch. Villagers were upset that local authorities had not compensated them adequately for expropriating land for a planned power plant.

Visit these links:

- Human Rights Watch:
- RSF:
- China is World's Leading Jailer of Journalists:
- Council on Foreign Relations Backgrounder on China's Angry Peasants:
- Video of Dongzhou Massacre:
- China Digital Times:
- Radio Free Asia:

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