China: woman commits suicide after official demolition of her home

Human Rights in China (HRIC) reported that Li Jie’e - a woman residing in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, jumped to her death on May 9, after her home was demolished in March this year as part of a land requisition by local authorities. The police removed her body and detained several people. Villagers resisting the forced removal and eviction say that they are prepared to fight to the death to defend their homes.

In 2010, Yangji Village, which has a history of almost one thousand years, became one of nine villages targeted for reconstruction by the Guangzhou municipal government. The local collective economic organization—the Yangji Joint Stock Economic Cooperation Association—told villagers that the land was collectively owned and that they only had the right to use it. When the Association demanded villagers leave their houses so that reconstruction could commence, some villagers refused.

According to the source, Li Jie’e did not accept the compensation offered for the eviction. Her home, along with other houses in the village, was forcibly demolished on March 21, 2012, by order of the Yuexiu District People’s Court. Li and other evictees began petitioning government bureaus for redress.

On May 8, Li Jie’e and other villagers knelt before the local judiciary. The following morning, May 9, when some villagers asked whether Li would again go with them to report their situation to higher authorities, Li replied, “I’m not going. It’s pointless.” At 11:26 a.m., Li jumped from the roof of a vacant five-story building in the village after casting down a suicide note. (The suicide was documented in a video produced by the Southern Metropolis Daily.)

That afternoon, seven unidentified men came to Yangji Village and threatened residents to be careful about what they said. That night, several villagers were detained, including Yao Muchang and her daughter, whose house was also demolished on March 21. They are being held for seven days.

The source said that currently there are guards at the doors of all the remaining houses, preventing villagers from meeting one another. According to the source, one villager said that he and a dozen others are storing containers of coal gas in their homes in preparation to fight the eviction. “It looks like they’ll move in on us today. If they attack, someone is going to die,” the source told HRIC.

Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.


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