CHINA—Mid-September and conflicts have flared up again in Liangjiajie Village, Xi'an City, in northeast China. Since the end of April, the majority of villagers have refused to sign unfair house demolition and relocation contracts. As a result many conflicts have taken place where the local government hired thugs to beat villagers, causing one death and many injuries. Fourteen other villages in the same area face similar problems.
Since April 26, 2006, local governments have used the construction of the No.3 Xi'an city east ring road as an excuse to force villagers to sign unfair contracts for house demolition and relocation. Despite the refusal of the majority of the villagers, local governments have hired rural workers from other areas and forcibly started demolition. They destroyed one wall of villager Jin Changnian's home without his consent, and when his family tried to stop them, over 50 thugs proceeded to beat them with nail-spiked clubs.
During the conflict, Jin Zhonghua was beaten to death and five other villagers were severely injured.
According to the villagers, after Jin's death, local authorities forced his relatives to sign a false death certificate with 160,000 yuan compensation (approximately $20,240). Later, local newspapers reported that Jin had suddenly fainted during the conflict and that this was the cause of his death.
Villagers said that due to Jin's death and strong opposition from locals, the local government then put a stop to the forced demolition, but since Sept. 12, it has carried out renewed large-scale demolitions. A total of 39 houses were pulled down in five consecutive days; among these 21 households had not signed contracts.
On Sept. 15, several hundred villagers went to the Shanxi provincial government offices to appeal, but the Baiqiao local government still continued the forced demolition. Three days later, villagers once again went to the provincial government, the district lead (a low-level local authority) called thugs to beat them up just outside the gate of the provincial government.
Former Shanxi provincial TV station journalist Ma Xiaoming commented on the seriousness of this incident: Many police vehicles were parked nearby but the police stood by quietly and watched the incident. Is this actually the official policy?
According to one villager, Mr. Yang, over 400 villagers were beaten, and eight persons were severely injured. An elderly grandmother developed spinal problems as a result, but cannot receive hospital treatment due to lack of money.
When The Epoch Times called the Shanxi provincial appeal office, one official answered, “I don't know, you should ask the propaganda department, we have standard answers for this.” A local government official said, “Since you are a journalist, you should come here to investigate for yourself. And who gave you the information?”
One villager, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “Because the compensation is so low, only 300 yuan (approximately US$38) per square meter, all of us refused to sign it, so the cadre engaged thugs to threaten us, 'You don't sign [the contract], we'll beat you!' Many villagers were very scared and signed the papers, even though they knew it was unfair. The government broke the law, but they were very afraid and signed the papers.”