Buried beneath the glittering skyscrapers of booming Shanghai are countless stories of the miseries of families whose houses have been demolished by government order. In order to protest the forced demolition of his home, Wu Gengqiang chained himself to his motorized vehicle for the disabled to show that he is prepared to die with his house. His first effort was successful.
Tricked by the Neighbourhood Committee
Forty-two-year-old Wu Gengqiang lived in the house he had inherited from his parents in the Yangpu District of Shanghai. For twenty years, he ran a hairdressing business in the house where he lived with his wife and child. However, in May 2004, the neighbourhood committee tricked his family into leaving their home. While they were away, the house was demolished and all the family's possessions were confiscated. Wu received the first demolition notice in 2003. He filed a lawsuit against the government and won the case. However, a second demolition notice was issued. He appealed again, but his house was pulled down during the appeal.
One of Wu's relatives told The Epoch Times , “Wu's entire family was tricked into leaving their house, so nobody was there when the house was pulled down. The neighbourhood committee cheated them by asking them to go to the committee to discuss their house. When they arrived, they were told that their house was being demolished at that very moment.
They were forcibly detained in the committee building from 9:00 a. m. until 6:00 p. m. When they returned to their house, it was no longer there. All their belongings had been removed as well. The neighbourhood committee assured them that their belongings were still theirs. However, they have not set eyes on them ever since.”
Living by Panhandling
After losing his house, appealing to the higher authorities has become a major part in Wu's life. When contacted by The Epoch Times yesterday, Wu said he was at the City Council to appeal and apologized for not being able to answer our call. His mobile phone service provider charges for both incoming and outgoing calls. He could not afford to pay for the call and suggested another way to contact him.
Wu's wife is unemployed, and the family has become homeless. The family has no income and cannot pay their child's school fee. Wu has had to resort to begging in the street. Once he was detained by the neighbourhood committee for twenty-four hours because he was begging near the committee building.
Wu's relative said, “Now his life can only be described as totally miserable. The day before yesterday, he was taken back by the neighbourhood committee while appealing. Upon arriving at the committee building, Wu refused to get out of the van since his appeals had not been heard and his child's school fee still remained unpaid. It was raining very heavily. The committee staff left the door of the van open, which let the rain and wind pour in. The disabled Wu squatted in the van throughout the night and was taken back by his brother yesterday morning.”
Another appellant Wang Liqing said, “Wu is only in his forties but looks much older. He looks very bad. He was very happy when the neighbourhood committee asked him to come to discuss the situation regarding his house. He thought his problems would be solved. He never dreamed that his house would be demolished as soon as he went out.”
After his house was demolished, Wu went to Beijing to appeal but without success. After his return, he stayed in the corridor of the neighbourhood committee building for more than twenty days. Despondent after all their appeals had failed, Wu's wife went to the neighbourhood committee to commit suicide. Finally they were given accommodations in the Jingchang Hotel, but the room has only been paid for twenty days.
Wu has been forced to join the legions of appellants who appeal to the central government to redress the injustices they have suffered.