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Nearly 30 farmers were left hospitalized in northern China earlier this month over a land dispute. Villagers from Shanxi province have been trying to stop a mine operation because their land was sold illegally. Villagers tell us the coal mine operator set dozens of armed men on them on June 1st when they went to the mine to protest.
Villagers in Zhongyang Prefecture in northern Shanxi Province have been trying to stop a local mining operation since last year. Local officials had illegally sold their farmland to the mining company. On June 1st their demands were met with violence, when the mine operator ordered armed men to attack the villagers. Nearly 30 people were hospitalized.
[Ren Huhu, Injured Villager]:
"The villagers here have been blocking the mine operation for 22 days. The mine operator then ordered his team to take revenge. Two villagers have broken bones, 27 people have been hospitalized. 10 more people were injured."
The dispute between the villagers and the coal mine began last year. They had turned down the mine's offer to purchase land because of low prices, but local officials signed the land off without their knowledge. Since then, villages have tried to appeal to authorities to get back their land—about 20 acres which they had been using to grow walnuts.
[Gao Yanbin, Injured Villager]:
"The coal mine illegally took our land. Our crops were still on it. Villagers have been appealing since last year, but the authorities wouldn't take care of it, we even went to appeal in Beijing."
Villagers are concerned the coal mining is damaging the environment. They say some homes are starting to develop cracks because the foundations are being affected by the mining activities.