Demolition workers claiming to be from local authorities in China’s Hubei province maimed a man for life as they brutally attacked a family with machetes in an apparent bid to pressure them into moving out of their house to make way for development.
The Sunday incident was the second attack on the family, which has refused to budge from their home in Tangjiadun village of Wuhan city—the provincial capital—over “unfair” compensation provided by developers wanting to demolish their house.
Three other family members were seriously injured in the attack, house owner Wei Shilin said in an interview with RFA’s Mandarin service on Monday.
He claimed the attackers were “thugs” hired by the local authorities.
“Seven or eight gangsters first used large drill rods to destroy our door and rushed into our house,” he said.
“Then another 31 gangsters arrived, all wielding large machetes. They said they were from the local demolition office,” which is in charge of demolition and relocation of homes.
“They severed my younger brother’s tendons on both hands and doctors said his hands are now [permanently] disabled,” Wei Shilin said.
Wei Shihong, aside from his hand injuries, was also seriously wounded on his head and back.
“In the hospital, my younger brother received about two dozen stitches on his head,” said Wei Shilin.
The attackers also wounded three other members of the Wei family.
Wei Shilin said this was the second time workers claiming to be from the local authorities assaulted the family at their home.
“They came to harass us several months ago and I called the police, reporting the intruders’ identities and their vehicle plate numbers,” he said.
“But the police turned a deaf ear to my grievances and wouldn’t even take the case up. And this is why today’s tragedy was able to occur.”
Wei Shilin said he went to the Wuhan City Public Security Bureau and the city’s Complaints Bureau to raise the issue, but “one of the managers there called the local police station and told them to take us home.”
“The local police said they were investigating, but I think they are trying to put me off by giving me a vague answer,” he said.
A duty officer at the Tangjiadun police station, when contacted, said, “We are dealing with the case.”
But when asked why they hadn’t addressed Wei’s previous complaint several months ago, he refused to answer and instead hung up the phone.
Owners of Tangjiadun village were offered only 3,800 yuan (U.S. $601) per square meter for their property while others in the vicinity had received more than three times the amount—14,000 yuan (U.S. $2,215) per square meter.
Wei’s family also received lesser compensation than their neighbors as they had come from another town and were not entitled to the same benefits. They have only been offered 2,800 yuan (U.S. $443) per square meter for their home.
Land acquisition for development, often resulting in lucrative property deals for local officials, sparks thousands of protests by local communities across China every month, many of which escalate into clashes with police.
In recent years, property owners all over China have complained that existing leasehold contracts are being flouted by local officials and developers keen to swell revenue coffers with lucrative land deals.
Reported by Fang Yuan for RFA’s Mandarin service. Translated and written in English by Ping Chen.