08/22/2006, 00.00
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Shandong: party ignores court, demolishes homes by force

Moves are under way in the city of Heze to intimidate those who refuse to leave their homes to make way for industries. Despite court orders, people's homes are being demolished by force and residents must pay the cost of demolition operations.

Heze (AsiaNews/SCMP) – Leaders of the Communist Party in Shandong are pressing ahead with a plan to forcibly demolish occupied homes to make way for industries and commercial activities, ignoring court orders that protect the residents.

Ma Guirong, a resident of Heze, said she won a lawsuit in March against the local authorities who wanted to pull down her home: the Intermediate People's Court ruled that the bulldozers should leave the woman in peace.

Barely two months later, at the end of May, a party cadre turned up on her doorstep and told her that her house would be demolished the following day and she would receive no compensation because she had refused previous offers. Bulldozers, police cars, demolition workers and local cadres turned up punctually the following morning.

After an hour-long standoff, Mrs Ma was finally dragged out by her daughter and watched her house being demolished. Her belongings were taken to a farm nearby together with those of her neighbours, who met the same fate.

"There were about 500 families in this area. About 227 families turned down government offers and refused to move to make way for a shopping centre," Mrs Ma said. "They wanted to forcibly tear down four houses to send a warning to other families."

The demolishers told the evacuees they were not entitled to compensation and they would also be charged for the wages of demolition workers and the cost of the demolition. "They told us we have to pay everything, even the meals of those who destroyed our homes" said Song Dechen, one of the evacuees.

Another neighbour, Li Minsheng, killed himself in protest on June 5. Officials claimed Li had mental problems, but neighbours said the Communist leaders were to blame for his suicide because they had decreed that he should "share Ms Ma's fate".

After these events, 100 families decided to leave while 80 stayed put. The authorities told the latter they "have missed the opportunity for compensation".

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