Al Jazeera Blogs


Forced evictions in China continue apace

Eviction notices in China leave residents with little recourse and officials crack down hard on those refusing to leave.
Last modified: 11 Oct 2012 18:28

Every foreign media bureau in Beijing probably has this in their file cabinet: a stack of files given by petitioners who have nowhere to turn and have put their last hope on the international press for some justice. A big portion of those are cases of forced eviction.

Here are some examples.

Ge Jueping is one of the people who lost his home as early as 2007, but the family never stopped to ask for justice. Speaking on the phone with Al Jazeera, Ge's wife Lu Guoying said that the family is still living with her mother and couldn't afford to find their own place.

One day in 2007, Ge from Suzhou in southern China came home and saw a notice stuck on the door telling the family to move or they will be evicted.

The family didn't know what to do, and in a desperate attempt to keep the house they bought petrol and gas, prepared to die with whomever came to take down the house.

They managed to put off the action, but soon afterwards, the wife kept getting phone calls from thugs telling her to move, or else they'd kill their only daughter.

The threat sounded real. Ge was beaten up, and the family of three ran for their lives to Beijing and tried to petition, when they returned home, the house was destroyed, together with all their possessions.

Mr Liu, a resident of Chongqing, had a similar tale to tell. He bought his house in the old but central district of Chongqing in 2009.

It was a good price for the family of five, him, his wife, his son, daughter-in-law and their baby. The happiness of owning a house didn't last long, though.

In 2011, they were told that the building was to be demolished and that they should move out. The compensation offered was so little that it was unacceptable for the family to lose their life savings like this. They decided to stick around.

Electricity was cut regularly to make it hard for them to stay. While most of the other families moved out, Liu continued to maintain the family home, cleaning up the area around the apartment. Unidentified people, however, would often dump trash near the apartment.

"We'll have to move out eventually, I know that, I just want to fight to the end, there's no justice," Liu said.

This is the sort of thing that happens in China regularly.

With the popularity of microblogs like Sina Weibo, however, at least the cases get circulated widely online.

The most recent case took place in Liaoning province on September 21, when local police shot and killed a villager while evicting a village. Reporters who were trying to find out what happened were followed and threatened, but it didn't stop thousands of Weibo users from commenting and retweeting the case.