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Beiwu follow-up 3: Resistance

July 12, 2012

konjaku: going back in time now,  to 2009 and the demolition of Beiwu village, there is one case of resistance to the process. This and the following two posts give a different perspective on the transformation of Beiwu.

Beiwu Village Demolition and Relocation Leads to One Sacrifice

Legal Daily

2009-12-24

http://www.legaldaily.com.cn/zmbm/content/2009-12/24/content_2010136.htm

2009-12-14. Beijing city Haidian District Beiwu village resident Xi Xinzhu, because of his discontent with the village committee’s “demolition by force,” attempts self-incineration.

2009-12-16 The Haidian District government publishes an announcement concerning this incident, but it contains discrepancies firm the truth.

2009-12-17.Xi Xinzhu’s relatives call upon the  400 representatives of the  Haidian District People’s Congress to get involved in the investigation

2009-12-23 Xi Xinzhu’s lawyer says that the Haidian District Court  put forth an answer to the complaint filed on behalf of Xi Xinzhu, stating that this matter occurred under the auspices of village committee organic law, and therefore is within the purview of village self-government. It does not fall under the jurisdiction of the District court, and the court does not take up the complaint on that basis.

————

photo:

Xi Xinqiang stands in front of the rear wall of the old opera house.This piece of land is where his house used to be.  He said, his older brother Xi Xinzhu loved this opera house. He used to go over there everyday and sweep, keeping it clean and tidy.

12 -14, 1:30 in the afternoon. A low rumbling sound was heard outside the house.  5 members of the Xi family were waiting inside for 2 o’clock, which yesterday evening the Yuquan village committee had promised would be the time for “final negotiations.”

Not 24 hours later, “12-15 at 8 in the morning,” had been previously announced by the village committee as the deadline for when the Xi family would be “permitted” to leave their house of their own accord.

Xi Xinzhu’s wife Long Shufang from inside the house, looked out through a crack in the metal door at the front of the house. “Quite a few large vehicles were driving up. There were fire engines, ambulances, and forklifts that were so large and noisy they resembled tanks. ”

As she later told this reporter from the Legal Weekly, “We knew then, there would be no negotiations.”  Xi Xinzhu’s younger brother Xi Xinqiang told this reporter, at that moment the room fell silent, and the rumble outside became louder and more distinct.

Xi Xinqiang walked quickly to the second wooden door, thinking he would reinforce three bolts on the door. He ended up bearing the brunt of the force, as a group  pushed on both doors (metal and wood) and kicked them open. In his line of vision, he was able to see 6 strangers rush into the house. They were dressed in fire-proof uniforms,  and had on safety helmets . He couldn’t see their faces. Soon after, he was pulled out of the house. He saw his brother and his wife inside, saying something, and that was it.

“Go and call the police!” Xi Xinzhu’s right leg was injured, he couldn’t move. He pushed his wife away. He suddenly took out a fuel bottle full of  gasoline. He poured the gasoline on himself. Long Shufang said later she did not know from where her husband took out this bottle.

“Everyone out!”  Xi Xinzhu holding in his hand a cigarette lighter, yelled at those people who had entered the house. Long Shufang was very frightened, but she felt she had to do what her husband said, and she ran to the inner room to phone the police.

“I think my husband just wanted to scare them.” But Long Shufang said she heard, from among the dense mass of dark blue flameproof suits clustered around him,  a voice saying to her husband, If you say you are going to light the fire, go ahead and do it.”

When she came back from the inner room, she saw her husband turn into a fireball. “He tried to pull off his down-filled coat, which was on fire, and staggered toward the courtyard.” 5 meters away, in the courtyard, was a large vat containing enough water to fill 10 to 20 buckets.This was originally prepared in case the resistance turned into a long siege.  “My husband ran for the water vat. At the same time, the firetruck from outside sprayed a column of water on him.” Long Shufang said, at that time her emotions passed the breaking point. She yelled over and over. “Don’t help us! Our lives aren’t worth anything!”

Xi Xinzhu was taken by ambulance to the 304 Hospital. His 80 year old mother and Long Shufang were carried out and taken to the same hospital in a different ambulance. The doctor said that Xi Xinzhu was burned on 10 percent of his body. This reporter’s understanding is that Xi Xinzhu is at present in the critical care ward.

——–

On 12-16, The Haidian District government issued a statement on the incident, stating, ” As part of the pilot project of urban and rural unification undertaken by the Beijing city municipal Party committee, the demolition of Beiwu and relocation of the residents is in its final stage. As of 12-12, only two households had not signed the agreement to move out. In order to speed up the process, in 12-14 the concerned departments decided to go and negotiate with one of the two remaining household members, Li  Fei (an alias). While negotiations went on inside the house, staff members waited outside in the compound for orders.

As the negotiations proceeded inside, someone from  compound 272 next door [the house of Xi Xinzhu] suddenly opened the door, and Xi’s daughter-in-law Li Xiaoying came running out, shouting, “There is someone pouring gasoline!” As soon as they heard this, the staff members and the firemen ran quickly into the 272 compound, through the window they saw Xi Xinzhu dowsing himself with gasoline. The firemen sprayed Xi Xinzhu with fire extinguishing foam, but Xi Xinshu suddenly lit himself with a cigarette lighter. The firemen extinguished the fire, the first aid personnel waiting in the courtyard gave him medical treatment, and sent him off by ambulance to the 304 Hospital.

After this, the Xi household was torn down.

This reporter spoke to a  Yuquan village committee member, who was reluctant to give out his name. He said that he was on the scene on 12-14, and said Long Shufang’s account to the media diverged from the facts. He insisted that at that time, when he was in the house next door,  belonging to Zhao Bing, that he heard the Xi daughter in law Li Xiaoying crying for help, and only to ensure public safety did they enter the Xi compound.

“Li Xiaoying did not run towards my house.” That is what Zhao Bing responded when this reporter sought confirmation. Zhao Bing said at that time he was negotiating with the personnel who had come to demolish his house. However I did hear a woman cry out in fear from next door. Zhao Bing was aware that there was some kind of incident occurring at the Xi household. [Zhao Bing is apparently the real name of the person given the alias Li Fei in the government statement].

Xi Xinqiang was forced to stay outside the house, but he stated that he absolutely did not see Li Xiaoying run next door calling for help. “She was carried out of the house, with only slippers on her feet.” Xi Xinqiang also afterwards asked Li Xiaoying what she was doing inside the house, and she answered she did not remember.

Zhao Bing said, his wife was carried out of the house by the hands and feet by four public security personnel and taken away. He insisted on striking a last deal with those who had come to demolish the house. “I  said I will go, if you let me take my cash. They saw I wasn’t confrontational, and let me go back in.” He went inside and got his house deed, identity card, cash and bank book, and a down coat and shoes for his wife. Shortly afterward he was taken away in a mini-van that “looked on the outside like an ambulance, but inside had no medical equipment installed” to the demolition and relocation office.

On 12-14 at 4 in the afternoon, Long Shufang was taken back under guard from the hospital to the demolition and relocation office. From inside the car on the way, she got a glimpse of something she knew well — the beautiful old opera house from late Qing (1644-1912). Behind the opera house was where her house stood –but it was no more.

Long Shufang afterwards  recollected, there was a sign that something would happen that day. Those who patrolled the village garbage heaps looking for scraps were suddenly nowhere to be seen. “They at least seemed to be aware something was coming.”

“From 2009-06-01, when Beiwu village formally began the “moving out” process, within the village their appeared 6 or 7 people whose identity was unclear, who all day went around from place to place.” Zhu Fuxiang told this reporter.  When he investigated, he heard “windows were smashed, doors broken, brick pieces thrown into compounds. ”

The 60 year old Zhu Fuxiang was not loathe to say he was a nail-holder. Since 2002 when he retired, he had been busy going from place to place in Beijing supporting other nail-holders.

2009-11-24 at 8 in the evening, Xi Xinzhu with another villager Yu Xingui were strolling in front of the old opera house, when they were attacked by six or seven unknown persons. When a doctor examined him,  he determined his right arm, his right tibia and shoulder-blade were broken, and he had other numerous injuries. However, the Haidian district Public Security branch office report issued by the legal medical expert stated that he had “less than minor injuries.”

—————–

2009-03-24, the Yuquan village assembly adopted a plan to demolish and remake the currently existing Beiwu village. However, this reporter found that many of the Beiwu villagers said they never received any official notification, and had only heard about it indirectly, as gossip.

In the Beijing Youth News 2009-03-19, “Following with Interest the Beiwu Village Unification of Rural and Urban Pilot Project,” a certain person named Zhang Quan divulges that there are plans to build a high class restaurant on the site of the former Beiwu village. In the article this Zhang Quan is identified as the “village party branch secretary.” But this Zhang Quan has another identity –as the Beijing  Yi  Zhang Quan Real Estate Development Corporation legal representative.

The following day, 2009-03-20, in the same  Beijing Youth News, there was article titled, “On the site of the former Beiwu village a park will be built,”  here the source is  “Haidian District Farming and Forestry committee Deputy director Wang Zhiwei.”

2009-12-18, Xi Xinzhi entrusted his younger brother Xi Xinqiang, the citizen Zhu Fuxiang, and the lawyer Yang Huiwen to file a complaint with the Haidian Disrict Court against the Yuquan administrative village committee (with jurisdiction over the natural village of Beiwu).

The complaint stated, that on 2009-12-12, the Yuquan village committee announced the removal from Beiwu village, the plaintiff did not accept the legitimacy of the action, and did not agree to the compensation plan. On 12-14, without any legal bias whatsoever, the accused forcibly destroyed the defendant’s legal property.

2009-12-15, Xi Xinqiang went to the demolition and relocation office accompanied by the media, wishing to reclaim the official papers and property taken and  held in custody at the time of the house demolition. But he told this reporter, “I got nothing back. When it was time to examine the articles in question, they all walked out.”

2009-12-16, after the Haidian district People’s Congress Representative 72 year old Wu Qing made a special trip there, the Haidan government office handed over to Zhao Bing, acting as Xi Xinzhu’s proxy,  the materials seized on 12-14, consisting of both households’ proof of ownership documents and identity cards, among other things.

“Property rights law clearly stipulates, that a citizen’s legally held property is protected under the law.”Wu Qing believes that Xi and Zhao, having proof of ownership for their homes, and residence permits from the city, owned their houses as personal property. “How can someone else come at random and take away their property? Even if their village falls within the area of land requisitioned by the government from the village collective, the government should still adhere to the law and negotiate with them.”

This reporter spoke by telephone to Deputy Director Wang, and he insisted that Beiwu village was a case of voluntary removal by the residents, not one of demolition and relocation.

Wu Qing stated,  “The village committee is a self-governing entity — what authority do they have to forcibly demolish?”

Zhao Bing said, ” I did not sign any document of approval, there was no written judgement from any court, yet they demolished my house. That is not legal.” Zhao Bing felt wronged. I truly did not intend to be a nail-holder. But for my house, which I held with a legal document, they offered me as replacement housing a residence which was “valued the same according to the current economy.” But now I no longer had the same proof of ownership with the new residence, so I could not accept it.”

In the course of interviewing Xi Xinqiang, Zhao Bing,  Long Shufang,  the three often used the term “they” or “them.” When the reporter followed up closely as to who this referred to exactly,  all three answered they couldn’t remember. Of those who came to their house, some said they were from the demolition and relocation office, some said they were from the village committee, some said they were from the real estate corporation, some said they were from the town government, some said they were from the District government. We become truly muddled as to who was who, ” Zhao Bing explained.

Xi Xinzhu’s medical expenses have already been paid by someone. “When I saw the person who paid, I asked him who he was, and he would not say. He just signed the agreement to pay and left. The signature was written sloppily, she couldn’t make it out.” Long Shufang was unwilling to accept anything whatever from “them.” At present she is still wearing the same clothes she wore on the 14th, and a hospital outfit to sleep in. Xi Xinqiang said, his wife Li Xiaoling and their child were staying  at her parents house. He had no fixed place to stay. At present he was worried about registering his child for elementary school.

“To stay safe, the most important thing is keep safe my property documents.” Believing this is foremost, Zhao Bing has no plans to return to negotiate with “them” –“they cannot be trusted,” He does not dare to go so far as to hire a lawyer, “I do not want it to be turned into a legal case, I just want back the things they seized.”

Zhao Bing’s knowledge of the law comes from the “12345” government hot line. Although he is hiding  himself in a trench, so to speak, and does not dare bring his case out publicly, he frequently calls 12345. The person on the line tells him impatiently that they do not know what he should do in his situation. He asks this reporter , “What should I do?”

Xi Xinzhu 席新柱

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