Authorities in China’s ethnically troubled northwestern Xinjiang region have bulldozed a Uyghur family’s home and taken their land after the family rejected offers of compensation as inadequate, according to Uyghur sources.
The property, located in Koktatchiliq hamlet of the Igerchi village outside Aqsu city in Xinjiang, had been targeted by the city government as part of a larger site chosen in 2008 for the construction of a middle school.
The project involved the relocation of 51 households, only two of them belonging to Han Chinese, sources said.
Uyghurs in Xinjiang often complain of policies favoring Han Chinese migration into the region and the unfair allocation of resources to Chinese residents.
“We did not agree to the government’s terms,” Rebiya Yusup, whose family home was bulldozed, told RFA last week after petitioning for more than three years for their property’s return.
“We asked them to appraise our house fairly, but they did not listen and simply bulldozed our home,” Yusup said from Beijing before breaking off contact and disappearing, possibly into police custody.
Imama Qeyu, former village secretary for the ruling Chinese Communist Party, confirmed Yusup’s account, saying that he was present at the July 2009 demolition of the family home of Yusup and her husband, Yasin Qurban, and their children.
“One day, I was asked to come to Yasin Qurban’s home. Local and city police and court security personnel were already there, along with the head of the municipal public security bureau.”
“Yasin Qurban’s family were forcibly removed from their home,” he said.
“The family resisted and began to curse everyone while the bulldozers worked on their walls. They were not allowed to take anything from their house.”
Qeyu said that Qurban had refused to sign a compensation agreement offering 29,000 yuan (U.S. $4,578) per mu of land for the family’s parcel and orchard of 10.9 mu (1.8 acres).
The offer did not include payment for the value of the house, though, and authorities rejected a counteroffer by the family for three million yuan (U.S. $473,578).
Qurban refused to sign, and “the school accused Yasin Qurban’s family of obstructing the work,” Qeyu said, adding, “Force was [then] used in Yasin Qurban’s case.”
Beatings and detention
The Qurban family’s 14 members now live in rented space in different homes in Igerchi village and have been petitioning local and regional governments for the last three years for the return of their land, Rebiya Yusup said.
Family members have suffered beatings and periods of detention as a result, she added.
In July, police detained a son of the family who had been petitioning in Beijing, and Yusup traveled to Beijing last week to continue the petition. She was reported to have “left Beijing” shortly after speaking with RFA, and sources believe she is now also in police custody.
The takeover of Uyghur farmland near Aqsu is proceeding at a rapid pace, with most of the land later resold to private Chinese companies at a higher price than the price offered in compensation, a local official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Around 3,000 farmers have lost their land in towns near Aqsu city, and most of them are now unemployed or have hired themselves out for cheap labor in the city,” the official said.
Reported by Mamatjan Juma for RFA’s Uyghur service. Translated by Mamatjan Juma. Written in English by Richard Finney.