'We Are in a Very Dangerous Situation'

2013-02-25
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A woman reacts after failing to protect her home from demolition in Guangzhou, March 21, 2012.
AFP

Rights groups have warned of a growing number of suicides and increasing violence linked to forced evictions across China. These three women, all of whom were forcibly evicted and their homes demolished, describe a life spent trying to win redress and dodge attempts by those they complain about to detain, attack or otherwise assault them in the process:

Evictee Song Qiaoke, of Shunhe district in Kaifeng city, Henan:

"Deputy chief of the Shunhe district government complaints department Li Huaineng led a gang of people [to Majialou] to bring people [back to Kaifeng]. There were four people and they took away three, but I clung onto the door jamb and they didn't take me ... Then another group of men came over and took all of my clothes off. Then they ran away. About an hour later they came back after the other petitioners had lent me some of their clothes. They ... lifted me into the van and took me back to Kaifeng."

Fellow Kaifeng evictee Gui Lan:

We are in a very dangerous situation now. We are staying in the same place, and we daren't go out. We're afraid that they will see us on the streets and detain us, and take some kind of legal action against us. We [are petitioning] because of injustice we have suffered. There's nothing we can do. We'll just have to put up with them.

Septuagenarian evictee Li Tinghui from Chengdu, Sichuan:

I don't fear being beaten or locked up because of my petitioning. All I am doing is seeking justice. We believe that the whole world cares about our situation. There are people all over the world who care about us. We will keep on petitioning. My rights have been violated, by government officials. They didn't give us the usual amount of compensation, and they didn't stick to their own policies. They abused their power and trampled the law for selfish ends, turning public property to private gain. I will never give up. I will fight for my rights, even though they take revenge against me by beating me or locking me up.

My husband and my children support me. They know that their mother is fighting for her rights according to the law and the rights given to us in the Constitution, and that she hasn't done anything wrong. I have the right to protect my rights, to sue, and to report [official wrongdoing], as well as the right to supervise [government]. They don't do their jobs, or they do them with no respect for rules, so we have the right to exercise supervision over them.

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin service, and by Zhou Qianting for the Cantonese service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.