An elderly man defending his home from a demolition crew and a demolition crew member were killed as local authorities carried out an “urban cleanup” operation in northeast China.
Li Baolin, 55, who lived in a legally disputed building in Daqing City, Heilongjiang Province, was killed outside of his house on May 15 after being struck by the arm of an industrial digger. The operator of the digger was also killed.
The incident happened when a crew from Daqing City Saertu District Urban Management Administrative Bureau arrived at Li’s home to carry out the demolition.
Precise details about the incident are not clear. According to NTD Television, family members were inside the house, pleading with authorities to give them at least another two days to organize their possessions to leave. It was then that the head of the demolition crew pushed his workers to start bulldozing the house with the occupants still inside.
According to the state-run Xinhua website, Li’s wife Yu Shuyun had been kneeling outside their house, begging the demolition men not to destroy their home.
“Brothers, give your older sister a little more time?” she had begged according to the report.
It was then that the driver of the digger, a man named Liu Jifeng, accidentally hit a switch in the vehicle as he leaned out the window, causing the digger arm to fall suddenly.
Li, who was emerging from his home, was struck and died almost instantly. Liu, whose head was outside the vehicle at the time, was also crushed.
The NTD Television report suggested that Liu, 34, was killed a few moments later by the arm as he checked to see whether Li had been killed. Yu, the older man’s wife, had witnessed the deaths of both men.
Ms Yu told Heilongjiang Television Station’s “Nightly News” program that her husband had signed a paper from the local Urban Management Administrative Bureau, authorizing the demolition, but he later attempted to rescind the decision.
The house was apparently rented from a local institution, the Industrial and Commercial Federation. The organization had been bankrupt for two years, but the couple had continued to live in the house. They had been living in the building for the last 15 years.
The deputy director of the Urban Management Administrative Bureau, Lin Weiming was quoted in a TV report saying the area is undergoing a massive “cleanup” process, and all illegal developments must be demolished.
Chinese netizens have blamed the local bureaucrats for the deaths of the elderly man and the demolition worker.
“These urban management people are so cruel,” one blogger wrote. “Even though they did not kill them directly, they killed them indirectly.”
Another blogger wrote: “Whether the house is really illegal is not yet clear. How can they crush someone to death? The related agency must investigate this and give the couple a fair answer.”
Another blogger wrote: “In front of forced demolition, people are like ants being smashed to pieces. Some officials even said ‘they did this according to city’s will,’ I really want to know what kind of will is that?”
Read the original Chinese article: