150 Farmers Sue the Ministry of Land and Resources in Beijing Court

February 4, 2005

According to an article published on the China Court Net, more than 150 farmers from Hongqiao village in Jiangsu province have filed suit against the Ministry of Land and Resources in the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court. The court reportedly heard the case on January 25. The dispute arose in February 2004, when the Wuxi city government announced that collectively owned land in the village was to be requisitioned. The farmers allege that they should have been consulted and that an MLR decision approving the land requisition was unlawful. They appealed for administrative reconsideration with the MLR, but the MLR rejected the application for reconsideration on technical grounds, arguing that it was not submitted within the legally prescribed time. The farmers dispute this and are asking the Beijing court to compel the MLR to reverse its decision.

Forced evictions and land requisitions are growing sources of unrest in China. According to Chinese experts, land disputes often erupt into demonstrations and violent incidents because displaced farmers and urban residents lack effective mechanisms through which to challenge local corruption and seek redress of their grievances. The government has expressed concern over such unrest and encouraged farmers to settle their disputes through legal procedures. However, as the experience of seven Shenyang farmers who unsuccessfully sued the MLR last fall suggests, the legal system has not always been a reliable avenue for relief (see related story here).