In the early morning hours of May 18, a gang of about three hundred ruffians in the employ of land developer Yinxing Group forcibly demolished the employee housing of the Porcelain Enamel Product Corp. (PEPC) in Chongqing City, Sichuan Province.
The gang dragged some startled residents out of their homes. Those who did not come out were buried alive in the process of the demolition. Fortunately, they were found in time and sent to hospital for medical treatment.
This is the sixth time that the Yinxing Group had come to demolish the PEPC employee housing since March 20. A local resident named Peng told reporters that on the afternoon of May 16, about 200 people from the Yinxing Group rushed into their housing compound, forcefully drove the residents out of their homes, and started demolishing the buildings. When police showed up to put a stop to the illegal demolition, the gang members fought with the police. One policeman was thrown down and beaten, sustaining injuries to one of his hands.
Midnight Demolition Terrifies Residents
According to the residents, at 1:30 a.m. on the 18th, the Yinxing Group sent about 300 people to drag the residents of the PEPC bloc out of their homes. The gang then began demolishing the building using heavy equipment. When the demolition began, many residents had not left their dwellings, and were buried alive by the falling debris.
Some of the residents who had escaped called the fire department. The others remained buried alive in their own homes until firemen managed to dig them out.
Peng said, “We reported it to the police at the time, but they were too afraid to go in. Many residents were injured—some were beaten and some buried alive. They were all hospitalized. One was seriously injured and is still receiving emergency treatment”.
Peng added, “It was horrifying. Many were beaten and injured. Some residents were frightened away and did not dare to come back. On the evening of the 18th, two policemen were sent over to guard the area. Without their presence, people would not dare come home.”
The residents have reported all these incidents to the relevant authorities, but the respondents, such as the local appeals office and district council, have no actual power to tackle any of the real issues.
Who Is Responsible for the Laid-Off Workers?
The Chongqing PEPC declared bankruptcy in 2002, and gave its former employees several thousand yuan in compensation. Every month, a laid-off worker can get 102 yuan (approximately US$13) for basic living expenses, but their basic medical care and employment issues have not been settled. When the factory went bankrupt, its managers just moved away. Nobody has taken responsibility for the rights and interests of the laid-off workers.
The PEPC sold its land to the Yinxing Group in 2003, without considering relocation compensation for the workers.
The authorities had promised the workers that the land developer would not come to demolish their apartment building until the compensation issue was resolved. However, within two months the Yinxing Group had sent demolition teams to tear down PEPC employee housing units on six occasions.
On each occasion, the degree of violence used and the extent of the destruction have increased. Now the building is almost half demolished. The residents are fearful that their safety cannot be guaranteed.