>> Once known as China's democracy village, today Wukan is sealed off by checkpoints and armed police. The city made international headlines in 2011 when residents went head to head with authorities demanding and winning the right to hold elections. But a year ago, hundreds of riot police stormed the streets in a brutal crackdown, and took it back.
Reuters James Pomfret, made a rare visit to the area to learn more about life on the inside.>> Every street corner, from accounts that I've heard, have video cameras now, high-definition surveillance cameras. There were plain clothes police everywhere. And there's still a massive battalion of riot police standing by within the police station.
So it's very stark, the shift in Wukan being this very open. Almost this place where democracy was flourishing to being a place where it's completely clumped up. They've directed all these big propaganda billboards. It was almost all some of these billboards, you had doves flying over Tianmang Square, over armed soldiers, but yet they were saying they love the people,cmessage of Collectively building a peaceful and harmonious Wukan.
But you speak to people and a different narrative emerges.>> Sources inside Wukan say former protest leaders have either quit or are languishing in jail on minor charges like illegal assembly, disrupting traffic, and spreading false information.>> Wukan really is a very vivid example of a microcosm of the squeeze on civil society and individual rights in China.
It's gone from being a democracy village to a concentration camp. Over the past five years under Xi Jinping, that's exactly what he's don. He's not taken any chances with civil society, just in a bid to further stabilize in his opinion China.>> Wukan won the right to hold election before President Xi came to power.
Activists say last year's crackdown was meant as a signal to the rest of the country, that there's no place for democracy in Xi's China.