Truck crushes woman during forced relocation

08:18, April 22, 2010      

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BEIJING - A woman was crushed under a truck minutes after her mother consumed pesticide to protest the forced demolition of their house in North China's Hebei province on Sunday.

The incident, which occurred in Zhangjiaying village of Xingtai, was the latest in a string of tragedies caused by forced demolitions that have been widely criticized.

The State Council Legislative Affairs Office has started making amendments to the Regulations on Demolishing Urban Housing, banning the use of violence, threat or illegal means to force the relocation of property owners, like cutting off electricity, water, heating and gas.

But the revision is still in process.

On April 18, Hu Xifeng had an altercation with the village chief who had brought a team of workers to flatten her house, the China News Service reported on Wednesday.

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When all efforts to stop the demolition failed, Hu drank pesticide. But even that did not deter the workers from driving a truck into Hu's house, crushing her daughter, Meng Jianfeng, to death and injuring Hu's sister, Hu Qiaofeng, who has been hospitalized.

Both Hu Xifeng and Hu Qiaofeng are now out of danger.

The local police have launched an investigation into what the local government has termed a "safety accident".

Zhang Shengli, secretary of the village committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), who led the demolishing team, has been removed from his post, the China News Service said.

The report added that the truck driver and the manager of the relocation project have also been taken into police custody.

Hu Qiaofeng's relatives declined to comment on the incident on Wednesday.

Du Yushan, deputy director of the Zhongxing sub-district office, which is in charge of the village, told China Daily that the decision to relocate the family was made to protect arable land.

Meng's house and 29 other houses in the village have been deemed an illegal usage of arable land, which is why the government decided to demolish them, Du said.

On March 21, the government told the 30 households about the relocation plan and ordered they demolish the houses within the next five days.

It turned out 21 households followed the instruction while nine refused. "We later held a meeting with 50 participants, CPC members of the sub-district plus representatives of the villagers, and most of us agreed to forcibly relocate the nine households," said Meng Liangyi, the vice CPC secretary of the village, emphasizing that the decision was made after discussions and voting.

Zhangjiaying, under the jurisdiction of Qiaoxi district of Xingtai city, is a village within the city with 1,900 residents.

The driver of the truck, which crushed Meng, said he had "no idea" he had run over someone "until villagers started panicking", said Zhao Bingchen, a police officer investigating the case.

Last year, a number of Zhangjiaying houses were demolished to "rebuild the village inside the city".

Meng Shanglun, the deceased victim's neighbor, owned one of the other eight households that were demolished on Sunday morning.

His was not even a real house, but a temporary residence he built with his own hands.

Meng said his original house was demolished last year with many other houses in the village as the government decided to "rebuild the village".

Source:China Daily


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