One hundred and fifty one farmers in Wuxi city jointly sued the Jiangsu provincial government for illegal land seizure. According to a web report by boxun.com on February 2nd, without notifying the farmers at all, the government of Wuxi city in Jiangsu province auctioned away 113 mu (about 16 acres) of land located in Longzhu village, Huazhuang Town, Binhu District of Wuxi City. This action resulted in the one hundred and fifty one Wuxi city farmers jointly filing a lawsuit against the Jiangsu provincial government. The correspondent interviewed the lawsuit representative Wang Baoxing.
According to Wang Baoxing, “The People's Government of Jiangsu Province violated the land law. The government took over the land for use but followed no legal procedures. First, they did not obtain any approval from the farmers, auctioning away private property. Even the village party committee did not know about this land auction. Later we asked for the approval letter, but they had no approval letter at all. The rumor says that the nephew of the Wuxi municipal Party committee secretary and the wife of the head of Hubin District came to develop this piece of land; even the mayor and the Party secretary of Huazhuang Town are involved in this deal.”
Wang Baoxing also explained that this auction was not a real auction either. There was no sufficient notification to the outside world, with only one notice given to one office, which resulted in four internal companies participating in the bid.
Wang Baoxing said, “The livelihood of the farmers depends on this piece of farmland. Now that the land is gone, the farmers did not even receive a cent of compensation. During October 2004, when the farmers did not agree to sell the land, the city government ordered over 150 policemen to enter the village and fight for the land, beating and injuring many of the farmers who were protecting the land. In November, a similar incidence occurred again.
Wang Baoxing said, “The government posted one public notification telling us that our land has been sold and that we are, therefore, forced to move. To protect our land, we farmers have been spending nights in tents on the land. They brought 200 local rogues for the fight.”
Wang Baoxing was injured with three broken ribs from being beaten. The villagers went to Beijing five times to appeal at the Ministry of National Land And Resources. The ministry considered this land auction the result of an administrative order by the provincial government. Therefore, it requested the provincial government to perform an administrative review of this case and provide supplemental documents. But when the farmers returned to Nanjing and requested an administrative review by the provincial government, they were rejected.
Mr. Yuan Shipei, who volunteered to provide legal service for the farmers told the correspondent, “The farmers brought the lawsuit to the Jiangsu Provincial Intermediate Court. At first, the court did not want to accept the case. It was not until the farmers showed the signed document by the Ministry of Land And Resources that the case was finally accepted. But the farmers are very unsatisfied with the verdict, which rejected the appeal.”
Mr. Yuan Shipei continued, saying, “The verdict from the Intermediate court is against the law. The prosecution was based on facts. According to the law, in order to reject the appeal, one has to clearly list the facts and reasons. It is because of this that we appealed to Jiangsu Provincial Supreme Court.”
On November 23, 2005, all of the farmers in the village, a total of 151 people, formally and jointly filed a lawsuit at the Jiangsu Provincial Supreme Court, suing the provincial government for illegal land seizure, in addition to rejecting the farmers' legal request for an administrative review. On January 25, 2006, the farmers received notification from the Supreme Court that listed the people on trial, but the actual time of the trial remains unknown.
Yuan Shipei further stated that, “Before the farmers collected money in order to hire a lawyer, but the case was not even accepted. The other lawyers, upon hearing that the lawsuit would be against the government, were unwilling to represent the farmers. Although I myself am not a lawyer, I have some knowledge of the law, so I volunteered to help the farmers. But because of this, I have received warnings that if I continue to offer them aid, my house could be demolished.
According to the country's law, this case has a good chance for winning. However, when we paid a visit to law firms in Nanjing, many of the lawyers were very uneasy once they heard that we were suing the provincial government. Some of them candidly said “we can't represent you.” Our guess is that the intermediate court will not put it on trial, because the provincial government pays their salaries. This demonstrates that our country's system still needs reform.”