Chinese police have arrested three people who were planning to petition authorities in Beijing for breach of property rights, a human rights group said Friday.
Representatives of 300 households affected by Shanghai's massive urban clearance projects were detained at a Shanghai railway station on April 17 as they prepared to go Beijing to petition leaders for property rights abuses, according to Human Rights in China (HRIC).
The incident began when Ai Furong and Wang Huifang approached Shanghai's new mayor, Han Zheng, and the municipal party secretary, Chen Liangyu, at a cemetery during the Qing Ming Festival on April 5, said the report, citing unnamed sources. Ai, Wang and others requested a meeting to discuss unlawful expulsion from their homes as well as breaches of personal and property rights.
Officials agreed in writing to meet the representatives on April 14, but the meeting was cancelled at the last minute and police sent to disperse residents who had turned up for the meeting, HRIC said.
Some of these representatives previously traveled to Beijing in March to petition authorities over their grievances, but were rounded up by police shortly after their arrival and returned to Shanghai.
Police have also beaten several residents during clearances, it said.
"It's true that several residents have been beaten and their rights trampled," Zheng Enchong, a local lawyer told AFP.
"In planning the redevelopment of portions of the city, the authorities have failed to provide a public hearing process," he added.
"In determining compensation, the authorities have failed to provide a fair assessment board and when disputes have arisen in negotiations over clearance, there has been no just, objective and independent judicial recourse."
Zheng, who has assisted Shanghai residents in these types of property cases, had his license revoked and has not been allowed to practice law for four years.
"I just want proper compensation for my apartment," said one resident named Xue, who was forced to move out after his building was condemned without his consent by Shanghai authorities.