Authorities in the southwestern Chinese region of Guangxi on Tuesday began demolishing houses without their occupants' consent amid a long-running land dispute and continuing intimidation of local residents.
Dozens of people in minivans wearing camouflage clothing accompanied a mechanical digger to the home of Xie Qingguo in Baihutou village early on Tuesday.
"It was totally demolished," Xie told RFA in an interview that afternoon. "They came here and surrounded the house, and dragged all my family outside."
"They didn't put any signs up that it would be demolished; they just came, and suddenly there were people everywhere," he said. "They surrounded us, and then they made their move."
Xie said most of his family's belongings were left inside the house when it was destroyed.
"We only managed to get the beds and bedding out in time, but the cupboards and kitchen equipment were all buried underneath," he said. "We'll have to stay in a tent next to the house."
Xie said he had tried to contact police for help, to no avail.
"I asked them if they could just demolish my house with no formalities like that, and they said it was none of my concern," he said.
Groups of unidentified men have been intimidating local residents in recent days, including gangs of hired muscle who have banged on their windows and doors with sticks, and high-volume propaganda broadcasts at 5.00 a.m.
"A group of people wearing camouflage clothes were banging on the windows and doors with sticks, and kicking the doors telling us we have to move out by tomorrow because the house is being demolished," local resident and former democratically elected village chief Xu Kun told RFA on Monday.
"Local people asked them if they had any paperwork, but they just said no, the land has been requisitioned and you have to move," Xu said. "They turned up their speakers to high volume at 5.00 a.m. so we couldn't sleep."
He said local people are now too scared to go out in case the authorities demolish their homes when they are out.
"Everyone's indoors, protecting their homes, now, and they won't open the door or go out," Xu told RFA.
Xu said only around a dozen households remain in the village, which has fought a long and bitter battle against a massive land grab by its local government in recent years.
The demolition of the Xie family home came after a similar operation in February that demolished the home of Baihutou village resident Lin Fu.
Campaign follows complaints
The demolition campaign comes after more than 40 Baihutou residents lodged a complaint about their the actions of Beihai municipal officials with the Guangxi regional land and resources bureau.
The villagers say the land in question is collectively owned, and cannot be taken away at will. Officials are reportedly planning to build a luxury hotel on the spot.
Repeated calls to the Beihai municipal government offices rang unanswered during office hours on Monday.
Repeated requisitioning by local officials of Baihutou's land for tourism developing has been sparking protests and mass petitions since 2006, but demolitions and forced evictions have continued.
Reported by Yang Fan for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Wong Lok-to for the Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.