Evicted Farmers Sue the Ministry of Land and Resources After More Than Two Years of Fruitless Appeals

November 19, 2004

In a compelling article (in English), the China Internet Information Center (a Web site run by the Chinese government) describes the absurd number of obstacles that a group of seven farmers faced in challenging the compensation paid to them when they were evicted from their farms to make way for urban construction.

According to the report, the saga began in January 2002, when the Liaoning provincial government requisitioned land in a village outside of Shenyang. Farmers with rights to use the land believed that they were not paid the legally mandated compensation for the land requisition and appealed to the village committee and then to the district people’s government, which directed them to the Shenyang Land and Resources Bureau. When the Shenyang bureau failed to respond, the farmers filed suit in the local people’s court. The court told them that while the eviction was unlawful, it had no authority to rule on the issue of compensation. The farmers were then sent to the provincial people’s government, which told them that it could not rule on the case and sent them to the Liaoning Land and Resources Bureau. The case bounced between administrative departments until the farmers threatened to sue in a Shenyang people’s court. After the Liaoning LRB finally ruled on the case (against the farmers), the group appealed to the Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR) in Beijing, which initially decided that the legal issues were "too complex” for a decision. In August, the group finally decided to sue the MLR in the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court. According to the article, the Beijing court accepted the case. The group has reportedly spent more than 30,000 yuan pursuing its claim.

Forced evictions and land requisitions are growing source 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.