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“In the middle of the night, while they were sleeping, people came in and broke up the courtyard wall. There were lots of people living there together in this building, they had a shop, it was really dangerous, there were still people living there.”
—“Zhang,” friend of a forcibly evicted Beijing family
China’s rapid urban development, fueled in Beijing by preparations for the 2008 Olympics, is leading to the eviction of homeowners and tenants in violation of Chinese law and international standards on the right to housing. In many cities, Chinese local authorities and developers are forcibly evicting hundreds of thousands of homeowners and tenants who have little legal recourse. Evicted residents left with few avenues of redress have increasingly taken to the streets to protest, where they have met police repression.
There are a number of reports of threats and assaults by employees of demolition companies against residents who refuse to move. In Tianjin, residents alleged on an Internet bulletin board that they were forcibly evicted by employees of the Tianjin city Beautiful East Residential Property Development Company, who rampaged through the half-deserted building, stealing and using property of residents who were in the process of moving out.20 Others have reported that they were verbally threatened or physically attacked.21 There have been unconfirmed media reports of residents being crushed to death by bulldozers during forced demolition and eviction.22 The Tianjin evictee alleged that after residents were beaten by employees of the demolition and eviction company, police refused to investigate.23
Some residents report that these violent evictions occur without warning. More often, the final, violent confrontation between demolition crews and residents occur after prolonged, months-long disputes among residents, developers, and the city’s demolition and eviction management department over how plans are made and what the amount of compensation will be; and after arbitration and legal remedies have failed to satisfy residents.