Evicted Farmers Lose Lawsuit Against the Ministry of Land and Resources

December 15, 2004

In a recent report, a domestic Chinese Web site described the absurd obstacles that a group of seven Shenyang farmers have faced over the past two years in challenging the compensation paid to them when they were evicted from their farms to make way for urban construction. After being bounced back and forth among provincial and national-level bureaus without any result, the farmers finally decided to sue the Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR) in August of this year (see related story here).

According to a report published last week on the People’s Court Net, the farmers argued that the MLR exceeded its lawful administrative authority in approving the Shenyang land requisition plan pursuant to which their land was confiscated. On December 9, the Beijing No. 1 People’s Court has issued a judgment in favor of the MLR. The court reportedly reasoned that the MLR’s official reply approving the land requisition in this case was lawful because the State Council had already approved Shenyang’s general land use plan in 2001. As such, it concluded, the farmers’ administrative claim lacked factual and legal basis.

Forced evictions and land requisitions are growing sources of unrest in China (see related stories on 11/1, 10/12, and 9/20). 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 (see related story 11/9). For additional information on land seizures, see the forced evictions section of the 2004 CECC Annual Report or visit the property rights resources page on the CECC Virtual Academy.