Villagers and Police Clash Over Forced Demolition of Homes
A fierce and bloody battle erupted between 100 villagers and several hundred police, officials, and unidentified people on Oct. 30 in southern China when police forcefully demolished three local residences. Many villagers were injured and at least one was hospitalized. Local officials have threatened arrests, and many villagers are in hiding.
“They brought batons, hammers, and iron rods to beat the three of us. They beat us for almost an hour. Other villagers came to help us,” said Ms. Guan over the phone, one of the victims of the demolition in Guangdong Village of Shaoguan City. “We threw rocks to stop them. It was very chaotic. Then they backed off.”
Another villager, also with the surname Guan, said there were many unidentified people who came along with the police. “They were all brought by the county authorities,” she said. “The Mayor gave them the order to beat the villagers. The officials don’t care about the people at all. If they come back, there will be more casualties, and problems will get bigger.”
Ms. Guan explained that local communist officials buy the villagers’ properties at very cheap prices and then sell them at high prices. For example, they might pay a villager 10,000 yuan (US$1,465) for his land but turn around and sell it for ten times that amount.
These farmers not only lose their homes but also their source of livelihood, for they can no longer grow crops. Neither is any compensation offered to them.
Collection of lands by local officials began in 2004. Villagers say many of the properties they collected have been idle for several years. Local Communist Party officials in China often behave as though they are ruling fiefdoms, making violent incidents like this common in China as aggrieved peasants respond to perceived injustice.
According to villagers, officials of Wengyuan County used the Longxian Lake Irrigation Project as an excuse to collect 880 acres of fertile land and 340 acres of dry land without any legal documentation. Many villagers have refused to accept the deals offered by the officials, and others have gone to Shaoguan City many times with letters of appeal in an effort to terminate any land lease agreements.
“This time they demolished three houses. They will continue to demolish other houses. These are houses left by our ancestors,” Ms. Guan said.
Many of the houses are old and needed reconstruction, she explained. Before the land collection began, many villagers had applied for permission to reconstruct their homes. Officials denied permission, however, saying the houses were in an urban plan area.
Reporters were unable to talk with Wengyuan County officials at the time of this report.
Read the original Chinese article.