Violent Forced Land Evictions on the Rise in China

Darren mail at
Fri Oct 19 00:58:02 BST 2012

(full report available for download)

/Contact: Sharon Singh, ssingh at <mailto:ssingh at>, 

(Washington, D.C.) -- Violent forced evictions in China are on the rise 
as local authorities seek to offset huge debts by seizing and then 
selling off land in suspect deals with property developers, Amnesty 
International said as it released its new report, Standing Their Ground, 

The report highlights how forced evictions - a longstanding cause of 
discontent within China - have increased significantly in the past two 
years in order to clear the way for developments.

"Chinese authorities need to protect the hard-won land rights of the 
people rather than kicking them off their land to line their own pockets 
or fill government coffers," said Frank Jannuzi, head of Amnesty 
International's Washington office and an East Asia expert.

Local governments have borrowed huge sums from state banks to finance 
stimulus projects and now rely on land sales to cover the payments. 
Forced evictions have resulted in deaths, beatings, harassment and 
imprisonment of residents who have been driven from their homes across 
China. Some residents were in such despair, they set themselves on fire 
in drastic protests.

"When the people of a nation feel so aggrieved that they are burning 
themselves to death, it is long past time for authorities to seek 
constructive remedies," Jannuzi said. "The Chinese government must stand 
up and address this situation head on."

China's ruling elite continues to promote local officials who deliver 
economic growth, regardless of how it is achieved. Land re-development, 
at whatever cost -- whether for new roads, factories or residential 
complexes -- is seen as the most direct path to visible results.Local 
governments and property developers frequently hire thugs wielding steel 
rods and knives to rough up residents. Housing rights activists, lawyers 
and academics in China confirmed Amnesty International's finding that 
the police hardly ever investigate such crimes. Unfortunately forced 
evictions are systematic of the lack of any effective legal redress in 
China, thus leading those in power to abuse their authority, torture 
political prisoners and conduct other human rights abuses with impunity.

"The issues that are at the root of China's forced evictions are 
structural and entrenched, and lasting change will only come about when 
the incentives to commit human rights abuses are eradicated," Jannuzi said.

Of the 40 forced evictions that Amnesty International examined in detail 
as part of the research, nine culminated in the deaths of people 
protesting or resisting eviction. In one case a 70-year-old woman, Wang 
Cuiyan, was buried alive by an excavator on March 3, 2010 when a crew of 
about 30 to 40 workers came to demolish her house in Wuhan city, Hubei 
Province. Another violent eviction occurred on April 18, 2011 when a few 
hundred men entered Lichang village in Jiangsu Province and attacked 
farmers to force them off their land. About 20 women from the village 
were dragged away and beaten.

On June 21, 2011, police in Wenchang city, Sichuan province even took 
custody of a 20-month old baby and refused to return him until his 
mother signed an eviction order. People who stage resistance to forced 
evictions often end up in jail or in Re-education Through Labor (RTL) 

With no or little access to justice some have turned to violence or even 
self-immolation as a last resort. Amnesty International collected 
reports of 41 cases of self-immolation from 2009 -- 2011 alone due to 
forced evictions. That compares to fewer than 10 cases reported in the 
entire previous decade.

Forced evictions remain one of the greatest issues of popular discontent 
within China. Premier Wen Jiabaohas acknowledged the gravity of the 
situation and there has been some progress towards protecting people 
against forced evictions in line with international law and standards.

For the first time, new regulations adopted in 2011 state that 
compensation for homeowners must not be lower than market value and 
outlawed the use of violence. However, these laws and regulations still 
fall far short of the required standards and apply only to city dwellers.

Forced evictions - the removal against their will of individuals, 
families or communities from the homes or the land they occupy without 
access to legal or other protections - are banned under international law.

Amnesty International is calling on the authorities to immediately halt 
all forced evictions and ensure adequate safeguards are put in place in 
line with international law, including:

  * Implement effective measures to ensure the entire population a
    degree of security of tenure that would protect them from forced
    evictions and other threats and harassment.
  * Ensure that nobody is rendered homeless as a result of a forced
    eviction and all persons who cannot provide for themselves are given
    adequate alternative housing.
  * Ensure that all victims of forced evictions have access to
    independent and impartial adjudication of their complaints and to an
    effective remedy.
  * Punish and prosecute those who use violence during the eviction process.

For a copy of the new report and other materials including video, please 
contact the AIUSA media office at ssingh at <mailto:ssingh at>

/Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots 
activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and 
volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights 
worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates 
and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, 
freedom, truth and dignity are denied./

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