By Gu Qing’er, Epoch Times Staff, June 18, 2010-
In order to stop authorities from demolishing her house and taking her land for the purpose of ‘economic development’, Li Wei set herself on fire. The 60-year-old woman is currently hospitalized and in critical condition with third degree burns over 37 percent of her body.
June 13 was the day the authorities were going to expropriate her land to build a factory for the Jingyue Economic Development Area in northwestern China’s Changchun City. Li Wei and her husband Li Xiuchen were having breakfast when the local government sent a dozen cars and over 50 people to her house, telling the couple that they were taking their house down, according to Wenhuabao (China Culture Daily).
When they tried to force Li Wei out of her home she dowsed herself with gasoline and set herself on fire. The intruders then rushed out of the house.
A doctor at the hospital said Li could die considering that she also suffers from a heart problem and diabetes.
The Epoch Times called the Office of Letters and Calls of the Jingyue Economic Development Area for comment. The man on duty said that the incident was being handled “according to procedures.”
The couple had been offered 13,000 yuan (US$1,900) for their house, but turned down the offer.
According to Wenhuabao (newspaper), Li did not regret what she did. “I was not given any choice. I had to fight for my house with my life,” Li said.
In the past few years, many such tragic incidents have taken place. The combination of land grabs by rapacious officials under the guise of public development, and the lack of established means for expressing dissent in China’s still closed political environment, are behind the incidents of desperation.
In November 2009, Tang Fuzhen, a businesswoman in Chengdu City, Sichuan Province, set herself on fire on the roof of her house, in front of police. She died as a result.
On Dec 14, 2009, Xi Xinzhu from Beijing set himself on fire to protest forced demolition.
On Jan 26, 2010, Zeng Huanwei, resident of Yancheng City, Jiangsu Province, lit himself on fire to protest a road broadening project that his house was a victim of.
On March 3, 2010, 70-year-old Wang Cuiyun from Wuhan City, Hubei Province attempted to stop a demolition in progress. An earth scraper threw her into a ditch, and she died as a result.
On March 10, 2010, Han Huabin from Huayin City, Jiangsu Province, poured gasoline on himself in front of government officials who came to demolish his house. As the demolition proceeded he set himself on fire and incurred serious injuries.
On March 27, 2010, a father and son from Lianyungang City burned themselves in an attempt to stop town officials from taking down their pig farm. The 68-year-old son, Tao Huixi, died and the 92-year-old Tao Xingyao was injured.
On April 29, 2010, four hundred desperate Chinese farmers from Changchunling Village in Heilongjiang Province resorted to lying on railroad tracks to protest government land grabs. Armed police dispersed them with tear gas. A dozen farmers suffered injuries, with two badly hurt.
On May 10, 2010, 91-year-old Liu Xian from Yongchun County, Fujian Province, drank pesticide and killed himself because he feared that he would have no place to stay after his house was torn down.
Forced relocation for the purpose of infrastructure or luxury developments are common in China and have become a source of festering unrest, especially because of the inadequate compensation generally given to the landowners.
To prepare for the World Expo, Shanghai officials displaced 18,000 families and 270 factories. Many residents who lived near the Huangpu River were forced to relocate and given minimal compensation. Countless have become homeless while some have been detained, beaten, and even killed.
The Department of Sociology at Tsinghua University in Beijing recently published a report that outlines the urgency of “maintenance of social stability” (often code for maintenance of regime stability) in the face of social conflicts, social unrest, and mass uprisings throughout the country.
The report says, “Without an effective outlet for people to express their interests, unresolved conflicts will accumulate in an increasingly unstable society. The growing social disputes stemming from violations of human rights and property rights, predominantly related to forced evictions, subsequent demolitions, and unpaid wages, are described as the leading causes of instability in China today.”
- The Epochtimes