When writer Yan Lianke was evicted from his recently-purchased home in Beijing, he wrote an appeal to President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao. Index on Censorship translated and published it:
Three years ago, I bought a property in Flower City World Garden using royalties from my books and borrowed money. In July this year, 39 families in the compound, including mine, were formally given eviction notices because of the road-widening project on Wanshou Road in Beijing. A few days after receiving the eviction notices, the wall of our compound was demolished at dawn.
Having been told the eviction was for the development of Beijing, the residents initially were cooperative. However, the Demolition and Relocation Office told the residents that regardless of the size or value of their properties, the compensation per household was set at 500,000 yuan, approximately US$ 78,000, and that whoever cooperated would be further awarded 700,000 yuan. Since then, there has been growing discontent among the residents with the local government and the demolition crew. You can imagine how the conflict and confusion surrounding the forced eviction was intensified by quarrels, fighting, theft and bloodshed.
[…] On 24 November, things took an even more bizarre turn. The government of Huaxiang in Fengtai District issued a document to all owners who had received eviction notices. The document stated that on 23 September, law enforcement officials discovered houses with no registered occupants as well as houses without their addresses registered with local authorities. Therefore, these houses were deemed illegal structures and would be forcibly demolished at 8 am on the 30th of November. (In fact, Flower City World Garden has existed for six years.)
I went to the compound this morning where I saw crowds of people and groups of uniformed men and many vehicles blocking access. I saw banners hanging in front of all the houses facing demolition proclaiming, “We pledge to sacrifice our blood and lives to defend our homes!” I saw emotional residents who were indeed ready to sacrifice their lives.
No one knew what would happen during a forced demolition. No local government official was there to mediate with the residents. It appeared that blood could be shed at any moment in this game of cat-and-mouse—if not today, then surely tomorrow. Many residents are determined to live and die with their homes.
Read more about other recent forced evictions and the responses from residents. See also more by and about Yan Lianke via CDT.