In a report released by Amnesty International, local Chinese officials have been accused of operating a system of forced evictions to facilitate land deals with developers.
Over the past two years, Amnesty said in its report, forced evictions in China have been on the rise as local governments seek to finance stimulus projects with money earned from the resulting land sales.
"In order to reduce their debt burden, [local governments] increasingly find their interests aligned with those of real estate developers," the report, titled "Standing Their Ground," said.
Amnesty also alleges that the evictions are becoming increasingly violent. It documented nine cases where people resisting their eviction were killed as a result. One instance described a 70-year-old woman who was buried alive by a bulldozer after falling or being pushed into a ditch as crews came to demolish her house.
In other cases, violence and harassment techniques are implemented to get evictees to comply, according to the human rights group. The report describes a woman who was forced to sign an eviction agreement in exchange for her 20-month-old son, whom the police had taken from her.
“The Chinese authorities must immediately halt all forced evictions," said Nicola Duckworth, senior research director at Amnesty. "There needs to be an end to the political incentives, tax gains and career advancements that encourage local officials to continue with such illegal practices."
The organization is calling for effective measures that would protect Chinese citizens from forced evictions and other forms of harassment. In cases where an eviction is necessary, Amnesty says this should never result in homelessness, and alternative housing should be provided for anyone that needs it. The lack of legal recourse for victims of forced evictions needs to be improved, the report goes on to say, as does the lack of investigation and punishment into cases where evictions turned violent.
mz/kms (AFP, AP)