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Zhuzhou Man Lights Self on Fire to Protest Forced Demolition

Man protests forced demolition of home with self-immolation, falls from roof.

From NetEase:

58-year-old Zhuzhou resident is seriously injured and in vegetative state following self-immolation over forced eviction from and demolition of home

Chinese man standing on roof with bottle of gasoline as an excavator approaches to tear down his house.

On one side the excavator approaches, on the other side Wang Jiazheng stands on the roof holding gasoline.

Chinese man protests forced eviction and demolition of home with self-immolation.

After Wang Jiazheng ignites himself on fire, there are people below directing the excavator.

Man protesting forced demolition falls from roof after lighting self on fire.

Wang Jiazheng rolls off the roof. The flame on the roof is the bottle of gasoline.

After man who lit self on fire falls from roof, people below rush to put him out.

After Wang Jiazheng falls to the ground, firefighters grab a fire extinguisher and put out the fire.

Nurses place man on a stretcher.

Four white-clothed workers at the scene lift Wang Jiazheng onto a stretcher. (All images taken from the video)

Southern Metropolis Daily. Reporter: Zhan Caiqiang

A scene similar to that of the Jiangxi province Yihuang city forced eviction and demolition self-immolation incident happened against in Zhuzhou of Hunan province. In the morning, the 58-year-old evictee, Wang Jiazheng, stood on the roof of his house and ignited his body. The entire self-immolation was filmed by someone in the crowd at the scene. Currently the man is still at the Zhuzhou City Hospital ICU, however “even if he is saved, he may be in a vegetative state afterwards.”

The video shows the entire self immolation

The incident occurred on April 22nd at 8:30. Located in Hunan Province, Zhuzhou, Yulong Demonstration Zone, Huangshi Village, house number 11. The self-immolation was recorded by a neighbor at the scene, and Southern Metropolis Daily reporters received the video yesterday from the videographer. The video is 2 minutes 35 seconds and recorded the man from igniting himself, being completely burned, rolling of the roof, to having the fire put out and being taken away on a stretcher.

As the video begins the screen shows a two-storied tiled roof house facing demolition at the time of the incident. Below are dozens of people wearing helmets and uniformed law enforcement officers, as well as a group of onlookers. To the left of the building is an excavator extending its arm. At first it digs at the ground more than ten meters away, and then it approaches the house.

At this time, a middle-aged man stood on the left side of the tile roofed two-story house, and on the right side stood a young man. The middle aged man held a white bottle similar to a large soda bottle. After which he used a lighter to ignite the gas that covered his body, immediately becoming a “human torch”, and ultimately fell from the five to six meter high roof to the ground.

Approximately five seconds after the “human torch” fell, a young man rushed forward and frantically used his hands and feet to put out the fire. He was soon followed by a camouflage wearing firefighter who aimed a fire extinguisher at the burning man. The scene momentarily erupted into a cloud of blue mist and white smoke, and the fire that engulfed the burning man’s body was immediately put out.

A stretcher was quickly brought over, and four white-clothed workers on the scene lifted the burning man onto it and quickly took him away. At the end of the video it can be seen, the man’s arms moving while he laid on the stretcher.

A news report with clips of the video on Youku:

Longer unedited video on YouTube:

Can’t see the above video?

Doctor: It’s possible he will be in a vegetative state

Yesterday, Southern Metropolis reporters contacted the burn victim’s daughter Wang Haiyan. She confirmed to reporters that this video is real, and presented details as to what happened during the incident.

Wang Haiyan says the burn victim is her father, 58-year-old Wang Jiazheng, the owner of the house in Huangshi village. The other young man in the video is her younger brother, 31-year-old Wang Hongyu.

She says that at five in the morning on April 22nd, her mother Yan Zhugen and sister-in-law Hu Lingzhi brought her nephew to her house to sleep, that “one to two hundred men from a forced eviction and demolition team broke down the door, forcefully pulled my mother and sister-in-law outside, leaving my nephew who was only 8-months-old on the ground.”

That night the father Wang Jiazheng and younger brother Wang Hongyu were not staying at this residence. After hearing this information they rushed to the scene. The two of them climbed onto the roof, among which the father Wang Jiazheng took out the bottle of gasoline he had already prepared.

However the demolition did not stop because of this. It wasn’t until around 8:30 that the self-immolation incident occurred. Wang Haiyan says, “It was at the time when the excavator was already digging at the downstairs that my father was compelled to set himself on fire. The video is the best proof.”

After the incident, Wang Jiazheng was immediately taken to Zhuzhou City Hospital ICU Emergency Rescue. According to Wan Haiyan, after being taken to the hospital the government urgently invited five doctors and experts from Changsha Xiangya Hospital to treat her father. The doctors said that her father’s burns cover 70-80% of his body. He received damage to his lungs, liver, and spleen , as well as inhalation damage and several severely broken bones. “The doctor said that my father’s life is still at risk, and is relying on a respirator to stay alive. He also said that even if he is rescued that he could be in a vegetative state.”

“Furthermore, now the hospital isn’t letting us in. Everyday the family stands at the gate of the hospital.” After the incident, Wang Haiyan once went to the hospital’s government officials to inquire about this, “but they didn’t say more than two sentences [didn’t say much] before all leaving.”

Yesterday, this reporter went to Zhuzhou City Hospital for confirmation of what Wang Haiyan said, but was informed by workers that it was “inconvenient to receive interviews.”

Demolition Controversy

The origins of the self-immolation incident, says Wang Haiyan, arose from the forced eviction and demolition [of their home].

She says Huangshi village, where all of the Wang family resides, is in the initial stage of Zhuzhou city’s “Vocation Education and Technology City” construction project. The project area encompasses close to 20,000 Mu [over 133,000 square meters], among which Huangshi village holds 194 farming households. Yesterday, farmer Yan Shunzhao told reporters, “It is mostly farmland that is being taken over. In our eyes this project isn’t really a practical government investment project. They are only using the guise of public benefit to carry out the demolitions.”

According to Wang Haiyan, they had two adjoining two-story houses facing demolition. The area of the building was over 600 square meters (not including the pig pen), “According to reimbursement/compensation standards, each square meter is worth 900 to 1200 yuan. After being relocated we wanted to buy a house, spending perhaps about two or three thousand per square meter, but our local housing prices have already reached over 4000 to 5000 yuan per square meter.”

Wang says a 600 square meter house can only be reimbursed around 320,000 yuan, which according to city prices can only buy an 80 square meter home. “Additionally, we’ll no longer have any land, no more field, all taken. We farmers don’t have pensions either. After this, not only will we not have food to eat, we won’t even have a house to live in.

From the land acquisition announcements issued May 25th 2009, to the demolitions starting December 26th of that year, the “Vocational Education City” project has not gone smoothly. In February 2010, online posts including both Wang Jiazheng and Yan Shunzhao, requested media attention for Hunan Zhuzhou Yunlong demonstration zone’s “violent acquisition incidents.” That following March, Zhuzhou Yunlong Demonstration Zone’s “Vocational Education Park” construction project’s land acquisition and demolition headquarters replied online, saying that Wang Jiazheng and other’s reports “used exaggerated language that was false, and is seriously inconsistent with the truth” and that it is online, “to provide public explanations and ensure correct understanding of the facts.”

The project’s headquarters replied claiming that for the land requisitioned as part of the “Vocational Education City” project “formalities were in place, procedures were legal, and policies were open and transparent.” Up until March of 2010 “Huangshi village held 194 households, and now already 176 households have been compensated followed requisition policies, have already been demolished, accounting for 90.72% of the homes to be requisitioned and demolished. This leaves only 18 households who because of unreasonable requests that remain unsuccessfully requisitioned, who also are are unsupportive and uncooperative with the land acquisition and demolition work, and have not yet been demolished. Among this group there are those who have individual motives, spreading rumors everywhere, exaggerate the truth, create a various conflicts, and interfere and damage the land acquisition and demolition work.”

Furthermore, the August 3rd 2010 issue of Zhuzhou Daily published an article titled “Vocational Education City Removes Demolition Resistance.” The article states the Vocation and Education City demolition has been orderly carried out according to law, all policies have been in place, and procedures have been legal. City officials working on site stress carrying out the land requisition and demolition work lawfully and strongly, also requesting the city’s mid-level courts and Shifeng precinct courts to contact provincial high court as soon as possible to declare “advanced execution” summary procedures.

On April 17th 2011, the last remaining farms, including the Wang household, received forced eviction notices issued by the Hetong district court. One was put up on the wall next to the front door of the Wang home.

Wang Haiyan says, “When it came time for the forced demolition, there only remained our house and one household next door who had not yet moved out. There was another group of 10 or so homes that had not moved. The forced demolition of that day came specifically for our house”

Yesterday, in order to make progress in confirming the related events, this Southern Metropolis Daily reporter dialed the mobile of Zhuzhou Tianxin police department’s chief Wang Bo, but Wang Bo said “I’m in the middle of a meeting,” then immediately hung up. Before last night’s publication, this Southern Metropolis Daily reporter once again tried contacting Wang Bo’s mobile. After the call went through, the call rang until the line was automatically disconnected, with no one answering.

This reporter again called the Zhuzhou Committee Propoganda Department telephone, but with yesterday being Saturday, calls repeatedly went unanswered.

Comments from NetEase:

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毛脸鸡蛋:

Without death, you cannot stop a forced eviction [for demolition].
With death, you still cannot stop the stop the next forced eviction.

116.25.*.*:

Force evictions and demolitions, “Chinese domestic conditions,”
Self-immolation, “Individual behavior.”
If the media does not expose it then there’s no matter,
When exposed just transfer positions.

[Note: The government officials responsible are often simply reassigned to other posts or positions without suffering any real punishment.]

117.136.*.*:

Demolishing [the property] before the subsidies [compensation] are adequate, the money provided by the government have all been embezzled by them [corrupt government officials].

113.220.*.*

Hope the the black hands behind forced demolitions are dragged out [for justice]!

111.160.*.*

Who made him die? You? me? Or him?

枣庄山炮:

There’s really a lot of fenqing. Satisfied with reality but not content with reality. One must be grounded [realistic] before one can make progress. Posting some fenqing comments does not make you impressive, instead it makes people despise you. What I support is China’s current development. It’s hard to avoid going astray [taking detours, losing direction], and everyone must see things properly. You must remember, as a person who is part of society, you yourself not respecting the country shows that you yourself do not respect yourself, so how can you expect others to respect you? Remember, a son never thinks his mother is ugly, a dog never thinks his home is poor, so don’t be worse than a man or dog.

So quick to invoke the name of taxpayers when discussing matters [referring to other comments], may I ask just how many of those of you commenting actually pay taxes completely in accordance with regulations [not cheating/avoiding taxes]? Just how many pay taxes willingly? Just how many pay the full amount? I’ve never paid taxes completely in accordance with regulations, so I’m very ashamed, and I don’t dare consider myself a taxpayer! I just think it is really strange, how everyone can go online and comment, as if everyone has enough experience/knowledge. From this incident it’s easy to see the progress of our country’s legal system and the increase in media supervision! You people only know how to blindly criticize! Talking so righteously, as if you guys are exemplars of nobility and integrity!

[Note: This comment can be found in many online discussions posted under different names.]

天麻马上:

[Referring to comment above]…your mother’s pussy.

61.173.*.*:

Actually this person also has responsibility, insisting on staying and not leaving. We must put the big picture of the country’s economic development first, only considering one’s own private interest is not right.

In the English Glorious Revolution, during the Enclosure movement, the circumstances were much worse than this, but did it not also help England complete its primitive accumulation of capital to become the world’s strongest nation? We should look at the big picture. Without the “large house” of the nation, how can we have our own “small houses”!

Written by DJH

DJH is a student currently residing in Madison Wisconsin USA, who spends the long cold winters locked inside his apartment scanning through Chinese media in order to improve his Chinese reading/writing ability.