The Civil Rights & Livelihood Watch recently conducted an interview with Mr. Ling Baizeng, a resident of Yangshan Village, to understand the events leading to and after eviction from his house.
Home to over 10 stadiums including the “Bird's Nest,” the Olympic Village is the core area of Beijing Olympic Games. The Village was built on what used to be Wali Township of Chaoyang District and a part of Datun Township. Ling, one of a large number of residents of the two townships who have been evicted to make space for the stadiums, complained that the eviction was a forceful and illegal process.
Ling revealed that many procedures of the eviction were illegal, and that the residents' rights have been violated in many ways.
1. Ling's house was demolished without the family's consent and presence.
The demolition happened on January 31, 2008, one week before the Chinese New Year, a time that people are supposed to enjoy family reunion in the warmth of their homes. That afternoon, nearly a hundred people from Beijing Chaoyang District Court, Beijing Chaoyang District Housing administration, Beijing Tungyu Construction Company and Public Security Police arrived at Ling's house for the demolition. At that time, Ling was filing an appeal at the Beijing Construction Committee and none of his family members were home. Ling received no prior notification of the destruction of his house.
2. Residents' homes were pulled down long before the construction planning was officially approved.
Ling explained that demolition work in Yangshan Village started as early as 2005. However, it wasn't until 2007 that the district government and the city developing company presented the construction permit and other proper documentation to any of the villagers.
3. Beijing Chaoyang District Housing Administration illegally issued permits for the city developer and the demolition company to relocate residents.
According to Chinese law, permits can only be issued after residents and the companies have reached agreements regarding proper compensation. However, the Housing Administration disregarded the rules and Ling's house was demolished before he was satisfied with the compensation offered. When his house was pulled down he had not found another place to stay.
4. The standard of compensation adopted by the relocation company violates the national relocation policy.
The law clearly states that the current real estate market should determine compensation appraisals. The relocation company proposed compensation for Ling's land and house of 2,500 yuan and 800 yuan per square meter (US $ 35.8 and 11.5 per square foot), respectively. The total compensation that the developer proposed, including renovation and relocation fees, was 4,000 yuan per square meter ($ 57.3 per square foot). This falls far below current real estate prices in Beijing.
5. Residents cannot afford to buy new houses after their old ones were destroyed.
Ling's family is temporarily staying in a relative's home. Ling explained that the current price for new houses in Beijing is usually above 10,000 yuan per square meter ($ 143 per square foot), so he cannot afford to buy a house with the proposed compensation.
6. The court ruling is against the law.
In order to fight the unreasonable relocation conditions, Ling filed two lawsuits. In April 2007, he sued Beijing Housing Administration at the Chaoyang District Court. In August 2007, the court found the general relocation compensation and placement procedure to be legitimate but refused to investigate the compensation specifics related to his case. In September 2007, this case was sent to the higher court and the court decided in favor of the original ruling.
In May 2007, Ling again sued the Beijing Housing Administration at the district court and requested the court to overturn the legitimacy of the relocation permit. The court refused the case with the argument that the two-year timeframe to take legal action has passed. However, Ling believes that the timeframe for real estate suits is in fact twenty years.
To this day, Ling has not signed a relocation placement agreement or received any compensatory award. He has tried various methods to defend his rights, such as filing appeals at the National Inquiry Bureau, the Beijing Inquiry Bureau, the Beijing municipal government, the Beijing Development and Reform Committee and the Beijing Construction Committee, etc. However, these efforts have been to no avail. Ling is also carrying on an appeal for the above two rulings.
Two other residents from Yangshan Village, Mr. Wang Qiguo and Ms. Zhang Shuling, were also forced to relocate at the end of 2007 and beginning of 2008 respectively and are in the process of appealing.