Three Gorges Probe
November 14, 1995
A recent radio broadcast from China has reported that opponents of the massive Three Gorges dam were arrested in October and face up to 20 years in prison. The news report, from the Hubei People’s Broadcasting Station, calls the dissidents "evildoers" and accuses them of damaging power facilities, "indulging in swindling and robbery, hindering the performance of public affairs, provoking disputes and spreading obscene videotapes."
According to a transcript of the broadcast, the "criminals" were arrested in Yichang City, downstream of the dam site. Local authorities "got rid of a group of evildoers. . . and forcefully safeguarded the public order of the Three Gorges area."
Chinese security forces have indicated in the past that they will use strong-arm tactics to quell rising opposition to the dam. Security documents leaked earlier this year reveal the Chinese government is clearly expecting "large-scale armed fights" in the reservoir area and resistance to the project’s massive resettlement plan. To deal with armed mis???, Chinese officials vowed to "meet the combat-readiness needs of all units in the Three Gorges area," and to "uphold the policy of speed and severity in striking timely blows at crimes and criminals that sabotage Three Gorges construction and relocation."
According to the leaked documents, in 1992, the year the dam was approved, police arrested 179 members of a "counterrevolutionary clique" for attempting to sabotage the "smooth progress" of the Three Gorges project. Human Rights Watch/Asia disputed this, however, pointing out the so-called counterrevolutionary organization was merely an unofficial local pressure group, formed by residents concerned about their impending forced relocation.
Publicly, Beijing has defended the Three Gorges dam, calling it "an epic accomplishment in the history of water control projects," and saying it will generate needed electricity, provide flood control, and ease navigation on the Yangtze River. The leaked security documents reveal, however, that officials are questioning the feasibility of forcibly resettling over a million people to make way for the dam.
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