Chinese Farmers Protest Against Land acquisition

March 6, 2008 12:00 am Last Updated: March 6, 2008 12:00 am

More than 1,800 villagers from Wuhou District, Chengdu City, Sichuan Province, launched a joint protest against the violation of their interests in a land acquisition. A village representative said that they would not rule out the possibility of sending representatives to Beijing to appeal during the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and the National People's Congress (NPC) if they couldn't get a satisfactory answer from the local authorities.

Over 1,800 landless Sichuan villagers filed a joint complaint of the violation. According to a report by China Tianwang Center for Human rights Affairs (CTWHR) on March 2, villagers received a land acquisition notice from the local municipal government in March of 2001. Instead of receiving the official document as they had requested, farmers were instead told that the land was to be the future site of Wuhou Technology Park.

In November 2001, more than 100 policemen from Wuhougou Public Security Bureau and local officers forced villagers to leave their homes, and then tore down their houses. Local authorities have repeatedly refused to respond to villagers' petitions. “According to a policy by higher authorities, each villager is supposed to get a 200-square-foot shop so that we can start our own small businesses to make a living. But the local authorities refused to give us that,” explains Li Zhigui, a local village representative.

After being robbed of their land and house, villagers conducted an independent investigation revealing that a total of about 480 acres of land had been seized by local authorities according to the Chengdu Land Surveying Institute. But villagers didn't get any compensation for this land. Instead they received a one-time compensation payment of 15,900 (US$ 2236.88) yuan per senior, 17,900 ($ 2518.24) yuan per adult and 5900 ($ 830.04) yuan per child. However, the land's current market value has gone up several million yuan per acre. Villagers have been filing petitions to get appropriate compensation on their lost land for years, but have yet to receive any answer.

Calls made to the Chengdu City Officials for this story could not get through, but a brief interview was obtained by a district official at the Wuhou District Government office.

When asked to confirm whether 1,800 Wuhou villagers' land had been sold to the Wuhou Technology Park by local authorities and had not been appropriately compensated, the official replied, “If the land acquisition by local government was to be compensated, then it would have certainly been implemented in accordance with the relevant policies.”

Then why are there so many villagers filing complaints?

“I don't know that case. But if there were land acquisition, relevant policies would have been implemented. The compensation amount shouldn't be decided by the villagers,” said the official.

Another village representative, Li Daohong, said that they had only received over 10,000 yuan ($ 1406.84) of compensation. He said that if they couldn't get a satisfactory reply from the local authorities this time, the villagers wouldn't rule out the possibility of sending representatives to Beijing to petition during the CPPCC and NPC.

“If they continue to ignore us, we might go to Beijing to petition. If they don't compensate us appropriately, we will definitely continue our petition,” exclaimed Li.

“The villager's compensation is very low, about over 10,000 yuan, but the current market price of land is millions of yuan an acre. The villagers only got less than one percent of the market price,” said CTWHR owner, Huang Qi. “This is a very rare case. I think, in the process of the transfer of land, it is necessary to take into account the development of nation-building, but the villagers should get the vast majority of the proceeds from the sale of the land.”