Over the years, government demolitions of homes across China have often triggered violent incidents, even occasionally resulting in fatalities. The latest one happened in Wuhan, Hubei province. Some of the demolished families who lost their homes clashed with officials. Three officials were attacked with knives, two of whom died and another was seriously injured. The suspect is under criminal detention on suspicion of “intentional homicide”.
The scene of the murder is located in Xujia Bang, Wuchang District, Wuhan. A total of four people from the demolition and relocation office, together with its parent organization, the Riverside Business District, were touring the site of the old city renovation in Simetang last week. According to his wife, Zhang Yuezhen, someone grabbed her husband’s cell phone and hit him during the chaos.
Shu’s wife Zhang Yuezhen (right) condemns the authorities’ poor handling of the demolition (online photo, date taken unknown)
Zhang Yuezhen: “One of the biggest heads of the demolition office grabbed the phone when he saw it. They started to fight. As a result, they were beaten to the ground by people from the demolition office. Another person from the demolition office took a brick to hit him. He (Shu legislation) is annoyed, said ‘you all stand, all wait, he ran home, took the knife.”
The two sides clashed. The director and secretary of the “Riverside Business District” surnamed Sun were stabbed and injured one after another. The secretary died of excessive bleeding.
Shu followed another official to the demolition office, where he found a person with whom he had a problem.
Zhang Yuezhen: “That woman always had problems with us. She always said that our family’s property license was wrong. Threatening me with confiscation. Always in the threat. He then saw her.”
The female official surnamed Xiong was also attacked with a knife and was killed on the spot.
The 60-year-old Shu legislation was taken away by public security after returning home, and is now under criminal detention on suspicion of “intentional homicide”.
Demolition of households forced to use containers as homes in the ruins
At the end of January, Shu’s three-story private property was razed to the ground by a team led by the authorities. The demolition office has refused to offer any rehousing or compensation package since then. For the past six months or so. Shu’s family has been forced to make their home in a container on the nearby ruins.
Three months ago, public security authorities officially opened a case on the forced demolition. It is understood that some government officials have repeatedly warned the Shu family not to make any more trouble or further action will be taken.
Zhang Yuezhen believes that her husband’s emotional outburst is related to the mental depression caused by living in a container for a long time.
Zhang Yuezhen: “Demolished on January 30. My house was demolished by force, throwing away our furniture, everything. I have been living on top of the ruins, living in a container. For six months, no one cared, no one asked, and no one talked to us. And I also made a case. You talk to us and we leave?”
Local government does not comply with the rule of resettlement before demolition
A media person in Hubei, who requested anonymity, believes that Shu’s legislation is only forced by necessity to defend itself.
Media person: “The national demolition provisions explicitly state that any demolition must first arrange residential resettlement housing and then reach an agreement on compensation terms before demolition, but in reality, no resettlement has ever been reached before demolition, and the reality is that they are all forced to demolish later regardless. China’s demolition is so barbaric. What law does it give you? What kind of reasoning?”
In December 2013, Fan Mugen, a war veteran’s family, was injured when his wife and children fought against the demolition. Fan Mugen stabbed two demolition workers to death. The court found him guilty of “intentional injury” and sentenced him to eight years in prison; he has since had his sentence reduced twice and has been released.
In March 2017, Ming Jingguo, a farmer from Ganzhou, Jiangxi Province, was attacked with a sickle shovel, resulting in the death of the chairman of the township congress when he was leading a team to demolish his ancestral home. The court found Ming Jingguo guilty of intentional homicide and sentenced him to death with a two-year stay of execution.