22-year-old former police officer Yang Dahong had to end his career in the Chinese Armed Police long before due, because he had to return to his hometown in Sichuan Province and sue for compensation for his land, which was illegally seized, and his house which was illegally demolished by local authorities.
In 2001 the Yibin Municipal Government sold Yang's land to Chongqing Luneng Co., the Sichuan branch of Luneng Group, a major energy development company. On September 7, 2004, Yibin municipal officials arrested Yang's mother and aunt who refused to move out of their home, and tore down their four-story, 7500-square-foot house. Yibin City Public Security Bureau kept the sisters in detention for 14 days.
Yang explained that they have hard evidence to prove that the land seizure was illegal. “In 2004 my mother obtained a copy of the house presale contract between the government and the Luneng Group. The contract was signed on December 13, 2001, and our land was forcefully taken on April 10, 2003. However, the provincial authority did not issue the permit for the city to occupy our land until March 31, 2004, which was almost a whole year after they took our land.”
Yang also said that their family never agreed to sell the land because the compensation was unreasonably low. “The compensation for our land and resettlement was 17,000 yuan (US$2,470) per person, which cannot even cover the annual old-age insurance fee of 20,000 yuan ($2,906), let alone our living expenses,” explained Yang. He said his family did not agree on or accept the house compensation either because it was also too low.
In the past five years Yang's mother and aunt have been appealing in every way they could think of, but all in vain. The local court has rejected their appeals, and related administrative departments have completely ignored their complaints. What was worse, the family has been harassed and their safety and freedom threatened.
On April 5, 2005, Yang's mother and aunt were arrested again while they were waiting in front of the Bureau of State Land for a response to their petition. The sisters were again detained for 14 days.
“While I was serving in the police force, I heard our house was demolished and my mother and aunt were detained,” Yang said painfully. “I hurried back, only to find it was all true. I was truly disappointed in the authorities,”
Yang feels his requests are only reasonable. “We merely ask for proper land and resettlement compensation in accordance with the law, and ask the authorities to eliminate the negative influences of the two illegal detainments of my mother and aunt.”
But the recent court decision may have smashed the last bit of hope in Yang's heart. After a hearing on June 10, the Yibin City Intermediate Court dismissed Yang's case, claiming that since the forceful demolition of their house took place on September 7, 2004, and the protesters did not initiate the administrative proceeding until April 1, 2008, it has long exceeded the statutory time period for prosecution.
Yang and his family are now living in a shabby hut at a dairy farm. Having no land, no job and no home, they do not know how to go on with their lives. “My mother is still trying to appeal locally and in Beijing. She has become a full-time petitioner,” Yang said with a heavy sigh. “What else can we do?”