Hubei Villagers Seriously Injured in Violent Land Seizure

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(Chinese Human Rights Defenders, December 11, 2008) – On December 10, Human Rights Day, thirty villagers were beaten by hired thugs in the presence of policemen who did not intervene in Xinxin Village, Economic Development District, Qianjiang City, Hubei Province. Twelve villagers were injured and seven were sent to hospital for treatment.

Yesterday morning, seventy hired thugs arrived at Xinxin Village and threatened to start building on a piece of contested land that the local government forcibly appropriated from the villagers. When the villagers tried to reason with the thugs and demanded adequate compensation, they were beaten. A group of policemen from the local Zekou Police Station, led by its head Wan Zhongyao (万忠耀), and a group of local cadres, including Chen Xinhe (陈新河), the deputy director of the Economic Development Zone, looked on the beating but did not intervene. The policemen also video-taped the incident.

Twelve villagers were injured. Seven were so seriously injured that they were sent to Qianjiang Hospital. Two village women, Guan Xiaogui (关小贵) and Yang Tuxiang (杨土香) were in critical condition. Guan’s thighbone and ribs and Yang’s skull were broken.

After the bloody incident, twenty villagers went to Qianjiang City government to protest, but they were barred from entering the building. The villagers were forcibly returned to the village and promised that solutions to their problems would come “soon”.

The local government forcibly appropriated 30 mu (about 2 hectares) of land from the villagers in 2007 without any compensation, claiming that it was to be used for charitable causes. The land has since been sold for property development. Since April this year, the villagers have demanded appropriate compensation but the local government has not responded to the villagers’ requests.

CHRD urges the Chinese authorities to conduct an independent investigation into this incident. If there is evidence that the villagers were deprived of their land in ways that violate the relevant provisions in Chinese law, the authorities must hold accountable those responsible, and compensate the villagers appropriately, for the land seized. Individuals found responsible for beating the villagers for protesting peacefully, or complicit in the beatings, should be punished in accordance to the law.

Media Contact for this press release:
Renee Xia, International Director (English and Mandarin): +1 3015479286
Wang Songlian, Researcher and English Editor (English, Mandarin and Cantonese): +852 81911660

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