Chinese Villagers Fight Land Grab by Officials Working With Developers
A mass protest by villagers in the south-central province of Hunan is the latest of several similar incidents drawing attention to land acquisitions for development projects being exploited by communist officials.
More than a thousand Hui Muslims from Pingfeng Village, Shaoyang City, protested in front of the municipal government building on Feb. 25, demanding that authorities hold the relevant officials accountable for a recent land acquisition during which villagers were attacked with batons.
One of the villagers, Mrs. Ma, told The Epoch Times that the protesters held up banners and photos taken of the villagers being beaten. “We waited for over an hour and no officials came out to meet us, so we went into the office building and were met by at least a hundred police. Then finally an official came out to meet us.”
The protestors stated that the land was forcibly taken, and more than a dozen people were injured. Supported by the villagers, the families of the victims demanded that the municipal government investigate the local law enforcement department and punish the perpetrators. However, they were told to wait for the outcome of the government’s investigation.
According to Mrs. Ma, the beatings occurred on the morning of Jan. 10, when over a hundred Shuangqing District government staff members, policemen, and urban management officers arrived in police vehicles, and commenced a hostile land acquisition. “They came to the village and beat whoever spoke up with police batons, injuring 14 people; seven were even hospitalized,” she said.
There was no official paperwork accompanying the acquisition, and villagers who requested documentation were met with threats. One villager, Zhang Yaping, took pictures of the incident, and was subsequently chased, beaten unconscious, and had his camera stolen.
Mrs. Ma said the officer in charge at the time shouted, “Beat them up! I’m not afraid of them suing; I’ll pay even if you kill them!”
At that point the officials began hitting the villagers, including Mrs. Ma, her husband, and their son, who was severely wounded. Villagers who were only observing also got beaten and had to be taken to hospital.
Afterwards, various villagers separately reported the incident to the local government, holding that it had engaged in a fixed-price land acquisition under the guise of development.
About 330 acres of land were recently forcibly acquisitioned, according to reports. During the past year, many villagers have been hurt due to frequent forcible land and home acquisitions, with the total injured numbering over a few hundred people. Purportedly, these under-the-table dealings between the local government and developers enable both to make considerable profits using the acquisitioned land.
A local surnamed Zhang told The Epoch Times, “Villagers survive off the land, and now the land is forcibly acquisitioned. Villagers demand that the local government buy them pension insurance, and ask for employment. With their land and homes facing immediate demolition, the villagers asked that the issue be settled locally. But officials have ignored this request.”
Some villagers added that many retired government officials have taken up part-time jobs in real estate companies, and are receiving wages and benefits, including former employees from The National People’s Congress, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, and also law enforcement. Some have even bought villas very cheaply through developers. These people are apparently utilizing their previous connections and old titles to work with the developers, thus deceiving the public.
Translated by John Wang. Written in English by Barbara Gay. Research by Feng Hao. Reporting by Cassie Ryan.
Read the original Chinese article.
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