Petitioners’ village torn down ahead of party congress
A few days before the 17th Communist Party Congress in mid-October, Beijing authorities tear down the neighbourhood that for years housed petitioners who come to the capital to complain against government abuses.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Beijing authorities have forcibly demolished buildings in a rundown neighbourhood which houses hundreds of petitioners from across the mainland who visit the capital to air their grievances to the central government.

The move is part of the authorities' efforts to create a "peaceful and harmonious society”—which is the mantra Chinese authorities have used since President Hu Jintao came to power—in the capital ahead of the Chinese Communist Party's 17th National Congress next month.

One of the former residents, a Mr Yu, told the South China Morning Post that the demolition began at about 2 pm yesterday. A bulldozer, nearly 100 public security officers and security guards were on hand to prevent any clashes or resistance.

People living in the building were relocated to nearby tents and told to leave Beijing by the end of the weekend.

For Mr Yu, it was the first time the authorities had pulled down buildings in the area, dubbed "the petitioners' village", without the consent of owners.

The city government used the pretext of building a new railway station in the area to drive the petitioners out.

Thousands of petitioners visit Beijing each year. Many, like Mr Yu, see it as their last resort to seek justice.

Some people end up staying years after being prevented from presenting their case because of red tape.