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9/16/10 China (ChinaAid) —  On September 5, 2010, representatives of 609 households in Yuqiang Village, Heilongjiang,  authorized a letter of appeal against the unjust practices of officials in the Hulan District Government. Officials have been confiscating their farmland for years without providing adequate compensation. Prominent Christian human rights lawyer Dr Li Baiguang and Liu Peifu are representing the farmers’ case.

In 1999, government officials began confiscating land, paying the far less than the property was worth.  When farmers petitioned on legal grounds to the forcible occupation of their land, their objections were met with brute force and over 10 women were injured.  One man was even lured outside one night and killed by hired thugs.    

In 2002, just before the price of land went up, officials forcibly enclosed huge tracts of land without legal approval. By 2003, about 1000 acres of land had been confiscated, lying desolate and unused.  Huge furrows were dug in the land to prevent farmers from using the soil to grow crops.  

Now, in September 2010, nearly 750,000 acres of land have been confiscated by the officials in the Limin Development Zone of Hulan District. This has created a huge economic problem and extreme poverty for people in the area who formerly relied on that land for their livelihood.   

According to the farmers’ letter of appeal, “In requisitioning land, one must follow the legal procedures in accordance with the ‘Law for Land Management’ and one must have legally approval documents, consult with the people, compensate the people and guarantee the livelihood of the people.  However, they have done none of these in their requisition of the land in Limin Development Zone of Hulan District.”   

The petitioners are particularly outraged at the corruption and internal connections of local authorities with the underworld.  Gangster thugs have been hired to intimidate and violently harass those who have objected to the confiscation of property, suppressing them on charges of “disturbing public security.”  In 2006, authorities began selling off bits of land, which by then had tremendously increased in value, earning them fabulous profits.  This practice only increased the peasants’ distrust and sense of injustice against local authorities

In their letter, the appellants express gratitude to government leaders in China who have worked to safeguard the rights and well-being of the common people in the past.  They call for justice against the local corruption and unjust practices that have taken away their livelihood.

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