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Three Gorges Villagers in International Appeal

October 26, 2004

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has received an urgent appeal from 650 people resettled as a result of the Three Gorges Dam project. The group, led by Fu Xiancai, has asked HRIC to deliver a petition to the relevant United Nations bodies in hopes that the international community will assist them in obtaining appropriate compensation.

The group, which was resettled from Maoping Township, Zigui County, Hubei Province, told HRIC that their leader, Fu Xiancai, is at imminent risk of detention because of his activism on their behalf. Fu has been representing this group since the 1990s in their negotiations with the authorities for an improvement to what they consider unreasonable compensation terms. Fu has been detained and interrogated on a number of occasions, and is regularly subjected to threats and harassment. At the end of September Fu went on another trip to Beijing to petition on behalf of the group, but was detained by police and escorted back to Hubei. HRIC’s sources say the authorities are now building up a file against Fu and are coercing others to testify against him.

According to the resettled villagers, an agreement signed by then-Premier Li Peng originally promised the villagers compensation of a minimum of 56,000 yuan per mu of land, and that they should be paid compensation for a period of 15 years. In actuality, the villagers say, local officials paid them only 1,408 yuan per mu, and they received compensation payments for only one year. The government had also set a resettlement payment of 30,000 yuan for each villager, but they only received 5,000 yuan. Their living and housing allowances had also been severely discounted, the villagers said.

The petition claims that the villagers have suffered losses totaling more than 2 million yuan, and that their living conditions under resettlement are greatly inferior to what they originally enjoyed.

The resettled residents have petitioned various levels of the government dozens of times since the 1990s, and have also applied for the case to be accepted by the courts, with no success. During that time, leaders of the group have been repeatedly subjected to suppressive action by the local government; dozens have been detained and interrogated, and two (Gao Qizhang and Yang Xingfu) have been imprisoned, while another (Ma Deyang) has been sentenced to Reeducation Through Labor. This past May five petitioners, Wang Xidong, Liu Zhengzhen, Xia Chenghu, Wu Yansheng and Qin Wenjun were detained and are currently awaiting sentencing.

HRIC urges the Chinese government to refrain from suppressive action against these villagers as they exercise their lawful right to appeal for their rightful compensation. “HRIC will be transmitting the villagers’ petition to the relevant UN bodies and foreign governments in hopes that pressure from the international community might be brought to bear on this matter,” said HRIC president Liu Qing.