China charges 10 over riot at a military veterans’ protest

December 10, 2018

BEIJING (AP) — China state media say 10 people have been charged with various offenses over rioting at a gathering of military veterans protesting for better benefits.

It wasn’t clear whether the suspects are veterans. However, the violence at the Oct. 4-7 gathering in the eastern city of Pingdu points to continued tensions between the authorities and ex-servicemen despite the establishment this year of a Cabinet agency to oversee veterans’ affairs.

Multiple protests have been staged in recent years, including in the capital, Beijing, to demand better pensions and health care. Violence is rare though, and organizers generally try to keep a low public profile to avoid drawing the ire of Communist authorities, who seek to prevent any demonstrations that could challenge their control over society.

The government refused to confirm the Pingdu riot at the time and censored reports about it on the internet.

The official Xinhua News Agency reported Sunday that around 60 people among the 300 who gathered assaulted officers and smashed a police van and three civilian vehicles using axe handles and fire extinguishers. A total of 34 policemen and others were injured during the disturbance, it said.

Some of the suspects have past records “for obstructing official business, causing disturbances, drug abuse, theft and swindling,” Xinhua said.

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