Veteran protest erupts in central China on anniversary of Tiananmen Square

Over 1,000 veterans and counting have converged to protest on the bank of the Luohe River in China's central Henan Province

(From Chinese media)

(From Chinese media)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – There are reports coming out of China that a large group of veterans hailing from Henan, have found themselves in confrontation with the police.

A group of Chinese military veterans approximately 1,000 strong and growing, are surrounded by police on the banks of the Luohe River(漯河) in Henan Province. They are making a stand demanding the return of the comrades who have been arrested by police, and demanding a redress of grievances.

According to Liberty Times, an incident occurred on May 22 and May 23, when the wife of a veteran officer by the name of Di Hong-lian (翟洪蓮) went to Beijing to file a petition with the central government over the treatment of her husband by the Ministry of Veteran's Affairs.

After filing the petition, authorities in Beijing told her to return to Henan. The next day (May 23), she was arrested by police in her hometown. Police sought her out, because she had reportedly earned “seven days of detention” on grounds of “causing a disturbance.”

Upon hearing the news, a group of veterans (20 to 30) gathered outside the office of the Ministry of Veteran’s Affairs to protest the government’s act. During the confrontation that ensued, several more veterans were taken into custody.

In the subsequent days, the contingent of protesting veterans continued to grow. The protest moved to a nearby riverside plaza (湖心廣場) in Luohe City, where the number of veterans and supporters currently number over a thousand.

The first group of veterans at the riverside plaza (May 29 / May 30 ?)

They are reportedly making a stand, demanding that the officer’s wife, and others who have been arrested be set free by the police. A slew of other complaints, and alleged mistreatment of veteran’s by the communist government, are also fanning the flames of their discontent.

Although it was reported that the local police were in negotiations to release the officer’s wife by June 2, there has been no news of her status. Meanwhile, the number of protesting veterans has continued to increase.

Liberty Times reports that police have used vehicles to blockade the nearby roads, and that media are being kept from approaching the area.

There are reports that veterans groups from 12 provinces have organized to join and assist the encircled veterans. The incoming groups will bring food and supplies to help the veteran protesters maintain their strength for the next few days.

The contingent from Changsha, Hunan is expected to arrive this afternoon (June 4).

Chinese media outlet “Epoch Pioneer” (時代先鋒) is currently hosting some clips of the protest by the river bank. The protestors say that the root cause of their anger is that the government is not honoring their commitments to the country’s veterans. They are angry that after years of service, the government is not providing the land, homes, pensions, or medical care that was originally promised.

There are also accusations that veterans hailing from rural areas are being widely discriminated against, and the benefits being withheld at the whims of local officials all over the country, reports Epoch Pioneer.

The large scale protest of veterans comes less three months after the Chinese government established the new Ministry of Veteran’s Affairs on March 19, 2018, which many probably hoped would signal a change in Beijing’s attitudes towards the rights of veterans.

Footage taken from a nearby bridge in Luohe City (June 3)

As June 4 is the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, it is certain Beijing is being very cautious handling this situation. Currently, it appears the protests are still gaining momentum.