Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Authorities have forcibly evicted the families of entire buildings in the area east of Beijing, throwing their possessions into the street. In place of the old houses new modern skyscrapers, roads and shopping centres, to the profit of construction companies and local leaders. But residents denounce government compensation for their homes is too little to find another house.
On January 6 at noon, in villages and Guojiacun Xiaohongmen in the eastern district of Chaoyang, a vehicle without license plate and a minibus arrived full of construction workers.
"There were about 100-200 people - says Wu Lihong, a resident, to Radio Free Asia – who entered the homes ... and drove the people from them. It was really horrible. "
"There were police and urban management personnel there, and a lot of people whose identities weren't clear - adds Zhan Jiang, human rights activist who tried to object - First, they dragged away residents, then they had a removals company come and take all their belongings out of their homes." "When that was done, they demolished their houses. There were a lot of workers with pickaxes and hatchets, as well as bulldozers and mechanical diggers "
Residents have complained to authorities that the expropriation is legally baseless, but the Chaoyang District Court has rejected their petition six times.
The high value of real estate in China, especially in large cities, often leads local authorities to such forced evictions, to resell the land making massive profits. The residents are given totally inadequate and insufficient compensation to buy another house, or are assigned housing kilometers away. In December 2007, the Center on housing rights and evictions, an NGO that monitors housing rights violations, based in Geneva, accused the Beijing Government and the Committee for the preparation of the Olympic Games in Beijing of an "abysmal disregard" for rights to about 1.25 million people driven from home for building related to the Olympic Games. Even in the early months of 2008 13 thousand people were "evicted" every week because of construction projects for the Games.
Wu says that anyone who refused to sign an agreement with the authorities might seek compensation of 6 thousand Yuan per square meter, "but the lowest market price for similar site is 30 thousand yuan per square meter."
Resident Han Oifang says ordinary people do not have protection, because "officials, builders, courts and even criminal groups are all in it together" to drive them away.
In the country there are 87 thousand protests every year for economic reasons, often forced expropriation of houses and agricultural land, attractive to construction companies and local officials.
(Photo: a forced eviction in act)