Over 1,000 villagers knelt to appeal in front of their city hall in China. The mayor who refused to meet with them has been deposed.
The appellants were from two villages in the city of Zhuanghe in northwestern China’s Liaoning Province. They sought to meet with Mayor Sun Ming on April 13.
Pictures and the story of the incident were posted on the Internet and quickly became the talk of the country. According to a report on Xinhua News on April 25, the Dalian Municipal Party Committee demanded Sun’s resignation for his failure to handle the incident properly and for creating an embarrassment for the Chinese regime.
The story began on April 7 when about 400 villagers from Haiyang Village went to the Village Committee to demand compensation they had been promised for expropriation of their land, but the village party secretary Liu Qinglian refused to handle their request. The villagers then went to the Zhuanghe City Hall to appeal with no response. On April 9, the villagers again visited City Hall, and an official promised he would respond to their request by April 12. With no response by April 13, the villagers went again to appeal, and even waited a long time for the officials to come out. Finally, they sank to their knees in front of City Hall.
Mr. Sun, a villager of Longwangmiao Village told The Epoch Times that they wanted to report a village cadre’s bribery, negligence, and embezzlement of government funds. He said the entire village opposed the village cadre and wanted him deposed. “We also wanted an audit of the village accounting records,” Sun said.
Later, the villagers went to the Zhuanghe City Committee with their appeal, but this trip ended in vain as well. Since April 13, the villagers have gone to Zhuanghe City Hall every day. On April 23, over 100 people from Haiyang Village were forcefully dispersed by police, and some were arrested.
“Today the government dispatched many policemen. They hit people, and there was a clash between villagers and the police. This incident has had a big impact,” villager Mr. Sui told The Epoch Times in a phone interview.
An official notice released by the Zhuanghe authorities claims that the city’s Disciplinary Inspection Committee has established a task force to investigate the issues raised by the villagers, and as of April 21, various tasks are being conducted in an organized and orderly way. A plan for land compensation has also been proposed, according to the notice.
Online postings by villagers allege that Liu Qinglian had collected hundreds of millions of yuan (1 million yuan equals US$146,473) from villagers over several years under the pretext of cultivating clams. He signed an agreement in his name promising to provide a 60 percent return to the people. However, in 2009 he terminated the agreement. During the past two years, the two villages’ cadres have become involved in the real estate business, selling land, sea, and mountain properties, but no money has gone to the villagers.
Mr. Sun said that the value of the compensation owed to them for land expropriation amounts to a loss of tens of millions of yuan. Land was sold without the villagers’ consent. There has been no village conference in six years. Villagers do not know the price their land was sold at nor how the money was being used. Much important information is being kept hidden. When the land developers arrived, they started fighting with villagers, saying that “they had paid the government and bought the land.”
China expert Hu Xingdou commented to a Chinese media, “It’s hard to imagine that a government official would refuse to meet with petitioners who are on their knees in a modern day country and society. It shows that local government officials lack political literacy and lack the concept of working and communicating with the people.” He said they are still holding onto the old notion that officials are above the people, and that their role is to suppress the people. They do not think in terms of resolving issues, which only results in more conflicts arising.
The Epoch Times contacted the Zhuanghe City Administration office and was told that the officials are taking the matter very seriously and are working to resolve the issue. A call to the Longwangniao Village Committee was not fruitful—the answering party hung up abruptly.
Read the original Chinese article.