02/08/2008, 00.00
CHINA
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Olympics: homes forcibly destroyed, prison for those who request compensation

About 1.5 million people have been driven out of their homes for the sake of preparation for the Olympics, and many have not received another house or any compensation. A few ordinary stories of those who are in prison for having requested reimbursement, or who have been beaten to death for protesting.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - It is estimated that at least 1.5 million people have been driven out of their homes, in order to demolish the houses and create grandiose, futuristic structures for the Olympics in Beijing and in the other cities that will host the games, like Shanghai, Qingda, Shenyang, and Qinhuangdao.  Hundreds of thousands have not received a replacement home or other damages, and have been reduced to poverty.  The non-governmental organisation Citizens' Rights and Livelihood Watch (CRLW) denounces the actions in Beijing and in the district of Chaoyang, in the villages of Wali and Datun, where the local government has forcibly destroyed homes without just compensation, and the citizens have fought for their rights with denunciations' and petitions addressed to the authorities. 

CRLW recalls that about 200 residents have sent a joint petition to the government and have organised a month-long sit-in protest.  The reaction from the local authorities has been violent. Ma Jingxue, from Wali, who presented a petition for just compensation, has twice been sent to a labour re-education camp for a total of three years, for "rogue behaviour".

Lu Qingcheng, of Datun, addressed a petition to the government asking for compensation for property losses and damages suffered during the compulsory demolition of his home.  He was imprisoned for eight days, and 20 residents who presented the petition together with him for "only" two days. 

One month before he was arrested in December for "subversion against the state", human rights activist Hu Jia denounced the arrest of the brothers Ye Guozhu and Ye Guoqiang for having protested against the forced demolition of their houses. Ye Guozhu was tied to his bed and struck repeatedly, and is now awaiting the Olympic Games in the Chaobei prison in Tianjin. 

In order to protect the image of clean and orderly cities, the government has stepped up the arrest and forcible removal of beggars and homeless, many of whom have been sent to labour camps.  Many people have been arrested simply because they have presented petitions to the central government. The ambulatory vendors have been driven away, or have suffered the confiscation of their goods. 

Hu recalls a few of the many cases: Lin Hongying, a farmer and vegetable vendor who was beaten to death by the municipal police in Jiangsu on July 20th, 2005. Wu Shouqing, a bicycle repairmen, was beaten to death by the police in Wuxi on November 19th, 2005. Duan Huimin, who had presented a  petition, was killed by the police in Shanghai in January of 2007. Chen Xiaoming, a human rights activist who had presented petitions, was imprisoned in Shanghai and died on July 1st, 2007, of an untreated illness.  And 200 authors of petitions were a arrested in Beijing on August 5th, 2007, precisely one year before the Olympics.

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