Chinese Farmers Demand to Place Human Rights Before Olympics

June 6, 2007 Updated: June 6, 2007

Thousands of landless farmers in China are demanding their human rights, claiming that the Chinese communist regime regards the Beijing 2008 Olympics as many times more important than their well-being. Two representatives for Toulin Town of Fujin City, Heilongjiang Province stepped forward to speak for the 2,913 petitioners who signed a statement that demands their rights be placed before the Olympics, according to an article published by China Affairs on June 1.

Voices from Thousands of Signatures

A farmer named Xu from Changan Town disclosed that five to six thousand farmers have signed the statement, and they are just not yet posted online. Xu exclaimed that the Olympics is a costly event that is given much more attention than their life's worth. He said, “The people's lands have been taken away by the authorities. Tell me how the Beijing 2008 Olympics would be useful?”

Another farmer claimed that they are not against the Olympics, but the Olympics only functions to give the Chinese Communist Party a good image while it doesn't even care about the citizens' well-being.

Farmers from Fujin City who have lost their land have spent the past 11 years appealing for their rights. A villager named Qian said, “Eleven years of appealing and filing lawsuits have been useless. No official wants to take care of it, and CCTV refuses to report it unless we have signatures from the central authorities. We can see from this how corrupt the regime is. In China, human rights cannot be guaranteed.”

Officials Collect Rent from Farmers

According to the farmers' appeals, officials of Fujin City usurped their land in April 1995, under the pretense of acquiring land for national development projects in conjunction with South Korea by investing in joint farm land in Touxing area. They used 570 thousand Chinese acres of land and forced many local villages to relocate. Farmers were only handed small compensation packages ranging from 10 yuan (US$1.31) to 70 yuan ($9.17) per Chinese acre.

In 1997, the Sino-Korea Joint Farm Land broke up, but the local authorities founded a development company in order to continue occupying the land. They now rent the land back to the farmers at very high prices. Farmers say that the officials have even employed criminal syndicates and policemen to stop villagers from farming to make a living, and their appeals yielded no results.

Keep Fighting for Land

Villagers also expressed anger towards the officials selling their land to others. During the past eleven years, over 20 thousand hectares from just one village were seized. One villager stated, “This is our land. We demand democracy! Now we have nowhere to go, and we won't win appeals anywhere.”

Local authorities are also reported to persecute the farmer's representatives. They threaten to jail him until he stops appealing.

The farmers are also saving to sue the officials. Over a hundred peasants from Toulin town, Xinghua village, Qingfeng village, Qingfu village, and Lianfeng village filed an administrative lawsuit.