From Southern Weekend:
Jiangsu father son’s home still forcefully demolished even after setting themselves on fire. Officials declare that they were resisting the construction of a national highway.
In the morning of March 27th, two villagers in Huangchuan town of Donghai, Lianyungang City in Jiangsu province, set themselves alight with gasoline in desperation to safeguard their pig farm from being demolished by force by the town government. The son, 68-years-old Tao Huixi died, and his 92-years-old father, Tao Xingrao, was injured, “with half of the torso charred, and (the part) above the neck bloody”.
According to witnesses, they received no help from the staff carrying on the demolition. Nor did the demolition pause for this accident.
In the morning of 29th, a news conference was given by Donghai government on this accident. It was announced that two peasants, in resisting demolition and relocation, burned themselves, causing one death and one injury, and relevant departments and leaders have began handling the situation.
According to Li BaoFu, the spokesman of the Donghai government, 310 National Highway Redirection [the reason for this demolition and relocation], is part of the provincial highway upgrade project in JiangSu. March 2009, following the highway planning, the People’s Government of HuangChuan town posted this announcement and sent the House Demolition Notification to all concerned households, as required by relevant regulations. August 13, 2009, the town government trusted a 1st-class real estate appraisal company to give an exact and formal appraisal on the concerned houses. The one of Tao Huixi was assessed as 75,004.36 RMB. Yet Tao Huixi thought this sum was too low and requested 500,000 RMB as the compensation, and later, raised the sum to 1 million. Afterwards, the town government had paid Tao several visits, attempting to talk him through, but of no avail. The other five houses concerned had all been demolished. But due to Tao’s resistance, the construction section in HuangChuan town has been hold for almost three months.
In this news conference, Li Baofu called this suicide-burning with one death and one injury a villager causality accident.
According to South China City News, Li confirmed that the demolition wasn’t stopped by their suicide. But he claimed that they didn’t demolish for the purpose of demolition, “the main reason is, after this accident, their house was severely damaged. The demolition was push on to prevent any incurring damage in the wake of the fire.”
According to Southern Daily, the Tao family established this pig farm in TaoLi Industrial Park, DongHai County, in 1995, with an investment of over 200,000 Yuan. They built the pig farm on a land occupying around 2 mu [1 mu = 0.0667 hectare], and settled themselves here also. Last year, the 310 National Highway was planned to pass through the TaoLi Industrial Park, Tao and another five households were on the demolition and relocation list. Before this, the other five households had already been demolished and relocated.
Tao YuQiu, son of the deceased Tao HuiXi, says though they were notified half a year ago that the National Highway 310 will pass through their pig farm, they were asked to move, with no compensation. His father reacted violently, “with the determination to die”. That time, the demolition failed.
Later, the Tao family began to complain to higher authorities, and got a confirmation that their farm wasn’t an illegal construction. Then HuangChuan town presented them with an appraisal report, their 2-mu pig farm could get 75,000 RMB as compensation. Tao HuiXi rejected this sum, and requested 500,000 RMB, later, changed it to 1,000,000 RMB.
Tao QiuYu says that they were informed by the town government several days back, saying “their pig farm wasn’t within the protection scope of the law, ” and the government has a free hand to decide the compensation sum”, besides, they were in a haste to demolish their farm before April 1st, otherwise, the demolition may never be completed. April 1st is the scheduled issuing date of a new demolition and relocation regulation.
The Beijing News reported, March 27, after the negotiation failed, and hearing that the town government had planned a forced demolition, Tao HuiXi prepared the gasoline, recording video clips for himself and his father, each holding a gas cylinder, claiming they will “Fight till their last breath”.
Tao Qiuyu says that at 7:40am that day, the Huangchuan demolition group, from several departments of the town government, with up to 100 persons, led by the town head Zhu Wenjun, arrived before Tao’s house.
Five or six persons tore Tao Qiuyu’s mother, wife and older sister away, tucked them into a van and drove away. Tao HuiXi and Tao XinRao locked the door from inside, and poured gasoline on the door. Around 8 o’clock, the staff continued to smash the door, and the bulldozer forced its way forward. Tao HuiXi poured gasoline on himself.
But “these people ignored him and went on smashing the door”. Tao HuiXi lit himself. Then “many of them rushed to quench the fire”. After the fire was put out, Tao HuiXi fell to the ground, but still alive. Tao XingRao was injured.
Those who came in to extinguish the fire found a quilt and covered Tao Huixi with it, then left him there yelling and writhing, till he finally became completely motionless.
Tao Qiuyu says that the demolition group ordered the village cadres to send Tao XingRao to the First People’s Hospital in Lianyungang City, and take away Tao HuiXi’s corpse. Some staff was ordered to remain and watch over the scene. Then the rest left.
Around 12, his mother, wife and sister were brought back one by one. They told Tao Qiuyu that they were being taken to a wild field. Their guards kept contact with the demolition scene over the phone. They were not freed until their guards received an order to “withdraw.”
Tao Qiuyu acknowledges that when his father and grandpa burned themselves, he wasn’t present. “My acquaintance in town told me to keep away; (otherwise) if they see me, I will be taken away as well, just like my mother and sister.”
As to Tao QiuYu, all these details on the scene are from eyewitness accounts. “But I can guarantee the truthfulness of my words, I can provide written testimonies of these witnesses,” Tao emphasizes, “I won’t slander.”
Comments on Southern Weekend:
Lu Xun [a famous writer in the 19’th century] once wrote about prisoners trying to follow Gandhi’s example and protest using hunger strikes. But the government then didn’t give a damn: They themselves won’t eat, it is not as if we don’t give them food, so if they starve to death, what does it have to do with us? Lu Xun then deplored the infeasibility of Gandhi’s method in China, and sighed at the naivety of these prisoners.
After so many years have passed, and now this tragedy happens, the demolition staff will also retort： They themselves wanted to burn themselves, it wasn’t as if we poured gasoline on them, nor was the first lit by us. So, this has nothing to do with us.
The people are under the yoke of the brutal government. Human right and democracy is still way way distant.
Bai Yansong [a CCTV host known for his outspoken style] once said: “China doesn’t have the right environment and conditions to allow its people to possess guns. If gun possession were allowed in China, I think forced demolition and relocation would no longer be possible.”
Many people know that China has a special characteristic called hospital wards for cadres. That is, if you are a cadre, you can have first class medical treatment. But if there is a day you happen to be injured badly in a car accident, without any ID to prove your identity, then what will happen when you are rushed to the hospital? At this time, you can only be received as we, ordinary people do. I believe only in these situations can a cadre see the true medical/healthcare situation of our country, and definitely not through those fake inspections and similar.
The same goes to demolition and relocation. Only when it happens to you, or to your relatives, or friends, you will exclaim: What! Isn’t this outright robbing! Don’t forget, even the emperors may someday be sent to guillotine.
Keep in mind, our largest happiness lies in equality and fairness. One may only understand this in his misfortune.
I hear that during forced demolitions, it is always a bunch of ruffians hired by the government.
A crazy country.
Reading this, I became tearful.
I truly have nothing to say.