Seeing these pictures and story you will feel like you are in a movie where people live in a terror created by the government and gangsters who call each other friends. Or the scene in George Orwell‘s Animal Farm where other animals discover Snowball and fellow pigs are drinking and dining with humans, the farm owners.
But no, this is reality. And it happened in China. It’s not supposed to be news now, for the events happened more than 10 years ago.
From Yulun Jiandu, translated by CDT:
In late 1993, Fujin City government of Heilongjiang Province issued a notice that would seize land of many villages for a joint farm project with a Korean businessman. In a report to provincial secretary Yue Qifeng and governor Tian Fengshan (taken down as minister of land resources), city party secretary Han Yin said they decided to abolish the original plan to cultivate wilder land and opted for relocating 1,300 farmers in eight villages. [Full Text in Chinese]
More importantly, the city’s decision-making process didn’t involve any meeting or consultation with the villagers affected. Thus a popular outcry.
To coordinate the relocation, the city formed an office headed by Ma Chengxi, a standing committee member of the city party branch and chief of armed police.
When villager representatives went to negotiate with the city government, they were all detained. And word was passed on to villages that if they agreed to move, the representatives would be released, otherwise they would be put in jail. Helpless villagers had no choice but to say yes, and their fellow men were freed.
Villagers talked again and the consensus was that they wouldn’t move. Enraged, coordinator Ma led a group of policemen into Qingfeng Village and took away three representatives and detained them for 12 days.
At the detention center, they were told they would face prison terms if they wouldn’t agree to move. And they needed to pay 2,000 yuan for a release fee. With no cash, a policeman drove them around the city and borrowed 2,000 yuan from relatives and friends and they gained their freedom. But when they returned to their village, all the houses were burning.
When the city government met with stronger opposition at another village, Xinghua, officials outsourced the relocation job to a local ringleader, promising the right to the land for a few years. The ringleader and his men, with guns in hand, fired at villagers. When police were called in, the gang stayed while the police tried to coordinate a compensation of medical bills.
Zhao Zhongquan, one of the most seriously injured in the gun fire, was bed-ridden for eight years before death. His wife, An Fengzhen, was forced to sign off with the government for a 19,000-yuan check and a waiver that she wouldn’t complain about the settlement in the future. [Full Text in Chinese]