9 July 2017
Chinese demolition team assaults, ties up family before destroying home
HONG KONG: A family of seven in northwest China was dragged out of their village home and bound with zip ties and duct tape by a demolition team while they knocked down their house last week, according to a Chinese newspaper report.
The forced demolition took place in Hanzhong in Shaanxi province after the family refused to agree on compensation proposed by the local government, The Beijing News reported.
A relative of the family rushed to the scene after receiving a phone call at about 6am on Saturday and found a mechanical digger knocking down the house, which was surrounded by several people holding clubs, according to the article.
About 20 metres away, the seven family members were sitting or lying on the ground, crying and calling for help, with their hands and feet bound by zip ties. One of them had his mouth duct taped.
Police were call to the scene an hour later.
They freed the family and sent them to hospital. One had a broken rib, while others suffered “soft tissue” injuries, the report said.
Four members of the demolition team were detained and police were still looking into the case, the report said.
Forced evictions and demolitions have been a persistent problem in China, especially in its vast rural areas, after decades of rapid development and urbanisation.
Home owners who refuse to move out have been beaten and even killed, making it one of the country’s most common causes of social tensions and unrest. — SCMP
6 July 2017
Govt sends in demolition crews as Larung Gar, China’s famous Buddhist academy, under threat
The hills around revered Tibetan Buddhist academy Larung Gar were once a seamless carpet of vibrant red, dominated by the homes of thousands of monks, nuns and devotees who crowded the remote valley in southwest China to explore their faith.
Today the landscape is riven with scars, with many houses destroyed and some neighbourhoods torn apart after demolition crews were sent in by authorities, who have ordered a mass clear out of the area.
More than 10,000 people — including many Han Chinese devotees — were living around Larung Gar, the world’s largest and most important institution for Tibetan Buddhist learning, but the government believes the area had become dangerously overcrowded.
Human rights groups, however, see the demolitions as a ploy by the atheist ruling Communist Party to tighten its grip on religious practise in Tibetan regions.
Bulldozers began crushing homes last year but the process has escalated in the past few months. The properties are being razed to make way for tourism infrastructure, parking, and better roads leading down the steep hills to the central monastic buildings.
– ‘Abusive campaign’ –
“They tore down so many houses. The government said there were too many people,” said Tibetan Buddhist student Gyatso, 26, as he handed freshly sawed planks to a red-robed friend hammering them onto an extension to a house they now share metres from his old one.
A massive church was razed to the ground this week in Wenzhou, a coastal Chinese city nicknamed the “Jerusalem of the East” for its large Christian population.
Local officials responsible for the demolition say the church was an illegal structure that was four times the permitted structure size. But Christian groups are concerned that the demolition signals an official campaign against religious organizations.
The Sanjiang Church took 12 years and 30 million yuan ($4.7 million) to build, reports Chinese media. Its soaring spires were a symbol of worship in a city that is fifteen percent Christian.
The church’s demolition on Monday was preceded by a month-long standoff between supporters of the church and local authorities, with supporters occupying the church to protest its destruction. The church was originally a government-approved project under the official “Three-Self Patriotic Movement,” a state-sanctioned Protestant church. Last September it was lauded by the local government as a model engineering project.
But the official rhetoric has since changed entirely.
Jin Leibo, a spokesperson from the propaganda department of Yongjia County, where Sanjiang Church was located, told CNN that the church was destroyed as it was “illegal.”
“The building area should be within 1,881 square meters, but they built 7,928 square meters illegally,” Jin said. The church was asked to “self-rectify” by April 22, but workers only managed to tear down 500 square meters by deadline, according to officials.
By Monday evening the church had been flattened by bulldozers.
Five local government officials are currently under investigation in relation to the illegal construction of the church, according to Jin. One official was arrested, and another is in custody.
Representatives of the church could not be reached for comment by CNN.
U.S.-based Christian rights group China Aid says the faithful are worried that the church demolition could be a sign that the government is tightening its grip over the spread of Christianity in China.
The organization claims that churches in different parts of Wenzhou and Hangzhou are currently “facing persecution” as a result of a provincial campaign against religious structures that was set into motion after Zhejiang Party Secretary Xia Baolong visited churches across the province and deemed them “too conspicuous.”
Under Communist Party rule since 1949, China is officially an atheist country, but Christianity is growing. According to the Pew Research Center, China’s Christian population had reached 67 million by 2010, the second largest in Asia.