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A villager in China’s central Shaanxi Province says he was violently attacked last month because he resisted eviction attempts by local authorities. These cases are increasingly common in China, where local officials use whatever means they can to drive ordinary citizens from their land, so the officials can cash in on real estate development.
Forced evictions are a common scene in China. So too are violent attacks on people who refuse to move.
In central Shaanxi Province, villager Li Ji is still recovering from an early morning attack back in July. He and others had been petitioning to Jianli Village officials to stop a series of illegal evictions.
[Li Ji, Jianli Village, Jingyang County]:
“Four or five people came. I was still half asleep and fell out of my bed after being knifed. The tendons to all my toes were severed. Two toes had to be amputated. I cannot walk.”
Li says he recognized his attackers. They were apparently hired by eviction officials and often appear in the village to threaten those who won’t move. Three days before the attack, they had warned Li to stop petitioning.
Across China, ordinary land has become potentially lucrative real estate for local officials. In Li’s village, authorities say they’ll pay villagers no more than 125 U.S. dollars per square foot for their land. Villagers say this is too low, especially because authorities want them to pay four times that amount for properties built on their land.
[NO TITLE BAR, Villager]
“The money they offer is too low, if you refuse they resort to thuggish ways, often using violence. Or if you’re a public servant, they’ll take your job away from you. I don’t dare to say more, or they’ll come after me.”