Unable to Stop Land Grab, Chinese Farmer Set Self Afire

A bombing in Jiangxi on Wednesday that killed three people was reportedly orchestrated by a farmer angered by the forced demolition of his home. Today McClatchy reports on another farmer driven to desperation when a development project threatens his home:

After years of protesting plans to demolish his house to make way for a vocational university center, Wang Jiazheng’s fight came to this: standing on his roof with a bottle of gasoline.

As the teeth of a green excavator moved closer to his home, Wang raised the small canister and doused his shirt and pants.

The excavator kept chomping away. A cordon of security guards looked on from below. Wang took a few steps, stumbled, stood up again and then burst into flames. He jerked around in a fiery dance, collapsed and rolled down the roof before plummeting to the ground. Neighbors screamed. A man ran up with a fire extinguisher.

Wang, 58, died eight days later, his body charred and his brain collapsed in a vegetative state. A rice farmer, he’d spent his entire life in this corner of southern China’s Hunan province, married for 36 years to a woman from the village next door. There was little in Wang’s background that suggested his life would end in an act of political defiance.

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