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China Letter-News and Human Rights

China human rights news with focus on the Uygur of Xinjiang, Tibetans and Tibet, Chinese mining workers, religion, corruption and censorship.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Forced Evictions: 50 Detained in Xinjiang

 Forced Evictions in China. An Uygur outside a demolished homeRadio Free Asia reports that up to 50 people have been detained by local police in the Illi region in Northwest Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region after protests as to compensation levels for some 18,000 farmers and nomadic herdsmen forced to leave their properties to accommodate a new water resorvoir and power station.

Many of those detained are reported to be local Uygur Turkic people once the ethnic majority of Xinjiang, known by them as Eastern Turkistan.

As in all parts of China forced evictions to make way for new developments is all too common but the major problems concern a lack of reasonable notice and compensation.

Some forced evictions are as a result of corruption as greedy officials and land developers connive to make a quick "buck". There are numerous cases of these evictions turning ugly when residents refuse to leave and it is not unknown for standover men and bulldozers to be used to force compliance. As recent as early this year an elderly Uygur man was crushed to death in his Kashgar (Kashi) home by a bulldozer after refusing to leave.

In the current instance it would appear that the dispossessed were promised 38,000 yuan (U.S. $4,600) as compensation for moving but received only 880 yuan (U.S. $106) each and thus the protest outside government offices which culminated in the detentions.

The Illi region, northwest of Urumqi the capital of Xinjiang, was the scene of "riots" by Uygurs in February 1997 that had dire consequences for the Uygur people. It is claimed by Uygur sources that hundreds died and thousands were arrested during and after a demonstration by Uygur youths which was brutally crushed by local authorities and the army. Whilst officially only 8 people died according to Amnesty International over 100 Uygurs were executed as a direct result of the riot in the Illi city of Yining (Gulja) the last as late as October 2003.

The "riots" resulted in a huge region wide crackdown on the Uygur with martial law being introduced and severe restrictions being placed on the Uygurs freedom of religion and association.


Radio Free Asia