A group of seven drank pesticide Wednesday morning outside the office of the state-run newspaper China Youth Daily in Beijing, then laid down on the sidewalk, surrounded by documents. One, Chen Xinguo, told the magazine Caijing his actions were in protest of the forced demolition of his home.
"We had no other option but to resort to this to make ourselves heard. We have lost our house. We have lost everything. We've been driven to homelessness. We've been driven into a corner. The government gave us no way out," said Qin Zeying, the wife of protester Cai Fuxi.
Four of the seven are hospitalized in life-threatening condition, the newspaper People's Daily reported.
Five people similarly drank pesticide in a separate incident in southwest China's Guizhou province. Their grievance against the government was unclear.
A witness, identified as Ms. Zhu, told Radio Free Asia:
"They drank the pesticide and fell to the floor. She (one protester) said a couple of things, and then white foam started coming out of her mouth and she fainted away. When they fell to the floor, all the petitioners gathered round and started shouting, but the police corralled us and wouldn't let us see. One policeman saw me taking photos and dragged me into an office where he snatched my cell phone and deleted the photos."
There was no information given on the medical conditions of the Guizhou group.