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Lengthy Prison Terms and Heavy Fines for Baihutou Village Chief and Land Rights Activists

April 29, 2011

On the morning of April 29, 2011, the Yinhai District People’s Court in Beihai,
Guangxi Zhuangzu Autonomous Region, sentenced Xu Kun (许坤),
the Baihutou Village chief, to four years in prison on the charge of “illegal
business activity” and fined him 200,000 yuan (approximately US$30,800).
The court also sentenced villagers Gao Shifu (高世福) and Zhang
Chunqiong (张春琼)
, to two years in prison and fined them 150,000 yuan
(approximately $23,100) each on the same charge. The defendants were tried on
February 28, 2011.

Xu, Gao, and Zhang were active in resisting the local government’s requisition
of village land. Villagers believe that their prosecution is an act of revenge
by the local authorities in Baihutou Village.

Xu’s wife Feng Guangmei (冯广梅) said the three men, who were
handcuffed during the entire 20 minutes of the court proceeding, called out
together after they heard the verdict: “I do not agree with the verdict; I demand
an appeal.” She said more than 30 trial attendees, including herself, Gao’s
sister and mother, Zhang’s husband, and other villagers, all cried out: “We
support the appeal.” Many wept. More than 70 Baihutou villagers were refused
entry to the courtroom.

Feng also said, “Xu Kun is completely innocent. It’s incomprehensible that
he ended up in the dock, got four years, and is fined 200,000 yuan.
All this is just too much. They [the local government] don’t treat us ordinary
people as humans. There is no law for us poor common folk to speak of.”

Gao Jianbo (高剑波), a village representative from Baihutou Village,
said “The crimes that the government accuses Xu Kun, Gao Shifu, and Zhang Chunqiong
of are completely fabricated. Of course we don’t accept it.”

The defendants have been involved in a multi-year battle with the local government
over its expropriation of land in 2006 for tourism development. Some villagers
had accepted compensation, but others have maintained that the compensation
was inadequate and continue to fight to hold on to the land and their homes.

Following several violent confrontations between villagers and local police
in 2009 and 2010, the case of Baihutou Village has been attracting increasing
media attention.

On May 8, 2010, several hundred policemen came to Baihutou Village and Xu barricaded
himself in his home. The police retreated in the early morning of May 9, and
Xu fled the village. He was picked up by police on May 14.

For more information regarding Xu Kun and the Baihutou
Village Case
, see:

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