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  • » 08/27/2007, 00.00


    Farmers in revolt near Harbin against land seizures, one dead, many wounded

    Developers try to carry out a virtual land heist against a village near Harbin. Farmers set up roadblocks but are charged by police and private enforcers sent by developers.

    Harbin (AsiaNews/Agencies) – At least one person was killed and dozens injured yesterday in a village near Harbin, Heilongjiang province, after residents clashed with armed police and thugs sent by developers to seize their land, witnesses said.

    Clashes broke out in the morning in Yutian village between farmers and more than 100 armed officers after days of a standoff between the residents, who want to stop land seizures, and people wielding sticks and steel bars witnesses said were hired by developers.

    When it became evident that residents would not be scared away, the latter—allegedly led by village party boss Li Peizeng—called in armed police to disperse the crowd.

    Locals set up roadblocks at the edge of the village to defend their land because the compensation developers were offering fell far below the land’s value.

    Zhao Qing, whose home is among those set for demolition under the redevelopment plan, said: “We either have no place to live or have to settle for a much smaller house.”

    Despite steadfast resistance, locals have had to give in and demolitions have already begun.

    Clashes of this type are become increasingly frequent and worrying the government, which is proving unable to stop them.

    According to Public Security Minister Zhou Yongkang, the number of major incidents has grown exponentially, from about 10,000 in 1994, to 74,000 in 2004 and over 87,000 in 2005.

    Every day some 120 to 230 demonstrations are reported to Beijing, mostly in the countryside where local officials tend to seize land and sell it to developers and industrialists who want to set up large-scale production plants.

    Residents who are thrown off the land and inadequately compensated have no recourse but protest, and often resort to violence.

    The government, which is very much afraid of the problem, has by and large responded by launching anti-corruption campaigns.

    In its latest attempt the authorities launched an initiative on November 13 of last year requiring local officials to give out compensation fairly and offer people replacement housing whenever land is expropriated.

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    See also

    11/11/2011 SRI LANKA
    In Sri Lanka, economic development threatens people, fish and elephants
    Policies allow land seizure, forest destruction, house demolition and threaten animals on land and sea, displacing farmers and fishermen from their villages. Humanitarian groups are calling on people to be united, demanding international support for sustainable development in lieu of the government’s mega tourist projects.

    13/01/2014 CHINA
    Fujian: authorities destroy cemetery as they grab farmers' land
    Officials approve a property development in the south-eastern Chinese province. After almost 17 acres are seized, bulldozers destroy rural graves. Horrified, locals are told they "could sue if we wanted," but that did not matter because "the courts wouldn't accept the case."

    08/01/2008 CHINA
    Usual scenes of violence in China’s “Far West”
    Villagers rise up against the government which takes land without paying, business which sends gangs to beat anyone who protects workers rights, police who clash with workers asking to be paid. In the “society of harmony” the state fails to safeguard its citizens, who are forced to battle against public and private abuse.

    07/05/2009 CHINA
    Farmer dies in clashes with authorities to defend his land
    Local sources blame police. Local government officials say clashes were between farmers and construction company employees. Hundreds take the body to local government building, demanding justice. More clashes with police take place in the evening.

    12/02/2008 CHINA
    In formerly rural China, the agrarian question threatens to explode
    The communist party came to power in part thanks to land protests by farmers. Now, for decades, corrupt officials have been seizing entire villages, to foster industry and construction companies. But the rural population is fighting back and trying to assert its rights over the land it cultivates.

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