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Village #15 Mentou

May 8, 2018

konjaku:

Village#15 is Mentou village (shequ), Shijiqing township, Haidian district

门头村社区
海淀区四季青镇

I could not find any article laying out the relocation and compensation plan for Mentou village. That in itself might indicate there were irregularities. From the beginning,  there was resistance from some villagers. In 2009 one villager, Yang Jun, set himself on fire to try to prevent the demolition of his house. Villagers who refused to sign contracts were subjected to violence in 2011 and 2013, which seems to indicate that resistance was deep enough to delay the process by several years. One clue to the dispute is the following: “The location… is part of area designated to be turned into a green zone by the township government. However the township government and the Mentou village committee have secretly colluded to sell the land to a developer, to build commercial housing. Many villagers are resentful of both the government and the developer, and have refused to sign contracts or negotiate compensation with the developer.”  In addition, the developer and the village committee were perhaps in collusion with each other to extract profits from what had originally been village collective land. Mentou village may be a case in which the Beijing city concept, to expand the green zone and give generous compensation to the villagers, is altered by the township and other local entities for their own interests. The Beijing city government would prefer that incidents of self-incineration did not happen. But the local governments may be more relentless in pursuing their own financial motives. This conflict can be seen in the way a villager supports the city-wide urban transformation but pleads for “equitable compensation” from the township, and in the way the local police sub-station and the Beijing City Corruption Squad struggle over jurisdiction in the Yang Jun case.

The following article is mainly about the construction workers building the replacement housing on the village site after demolition, therefore I have only translated the introductory paragraphs.

A record of the demolition of Mentou village

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/micro-reading/interface_toutiao/2014-10-22/12569497.html?tt_group_id=3610189784&tt_from=weixin_moments&iid=2369007306&app=news_article&from=timeline&isappinstalled=0

The demolition and relocation of residents of Mentou village, an ordinary village in the western suburbs of Beijing, is just one minor event in the overall development of the city, a mere drop in the ocean. But starting in 2013-09, the reporter Yang Lang spent one year photographing and taking notes, to produce a sociological record of the transformation of the village. As we peer into the process of urbanization, we see an one fragmentary sample of how urbanization swallows up a formerly rural area…

Yang Lang, who happened to live close by in Xishan, used his cell phone to record the demolition of buildings in the village and the arrival of construction workers to built replacement housing. He documented the construction process all the way through, up to the village residents viewing the completed structures.  During this time, he spent a lot of time with the construction workers, sharing their joys and disappointments, carefully observing the social milieu that grew up on the periphery of the construction site. During the 2014 New Year’s holiday, he brought food and liquor to the workers that had to remain behind to guard the construction site, and they stayed up all night on New Year’s Eve. His cell phone photographs were presented in an exhibition, “Your Sweat,  Our Homes.”

Mentou village is in West Haidian.  In the 16th century “Streets and Alleys in the Capitol’s Five Districts”  the name “Mentou village” appears. “Since it is the gateway to Xishan[Western Hills], it is called the ”first gate.” [men, gate, tou, head, first].The name appears in Ming and Qing, [other citations omitted] and the name hasn’t changed in the People’s Republic.

To the north of Mentou is the Tuancheng Fortress, built in the Qianlong reign period (1736-1795) of the Ching, an important historical monument.. The troops who went on to defeat the Jinchuan minority in Sichuan trained here [1747-1749, 1771-1776]. In 1964, the renowned literary artist Lao She lived at no. 39 in Mentou while gathering source material, despite being of an advanced age. [Lao She, 1899-1966]. He wrote a poem praising Mentou as a place where “ the fountainhead of literature and art flows out.” 

konjaku: .Although some of Yang Lang photos are reproduced, I can’t find Yang Lang’s photo of “the village residents viewing the completed structures.”

photos: Mentor village with protest posters, the construction workers

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The following description of the Yang Jun incident is a section of a longer article in Caixin about activists who resisted forcible demolition.

http://wangcailiang.blog.caixin.com/archives/48419

2012-11-06

Yang Jun, a resident of Mentou village in Shijiqing town Haidian district, received three years in prison for injuring a police official while resisting the forcible demolition of his house. This year (2012), after being released from prison on 08-13, he met many times with the relevant government department to negotiate a compensation settlement. On 09-05 Yang Jun was attacked and beaten by unknown persons. Despite medical assistance, he died on 09-14. The Beijing city police have opened an investigation.

In order to prevent the developers from demolishing his home, on 2009-08 Yang Jun splashed gasoline in the direction of the  demolition personnel and ignited the fuel, burning himself and one judicial policeman. Soon afterwards, he was sentenced in court to a prison term of three years. His fiancee Li Rong at the same time received a sentence of 8 months. While the two were in prison. Yang Jun’s house was demolished.

Apparently the Jingxiang Weiye Development Company, which had the contract for demolishing Mentou and constructing the Mentou New Village, and which was involved in the demolition of Yang Jun’s home, is very closely linked to the Mentou village committee. The Mentou party branch secretary Liu Jixiang and the Menyou demolition director Ren Baowang both hold positions in the Jingxiang Weiye Company. 

When Yang Jun was released from prison on 08-13 at 10 o’clock at night, he had no home to go to. A policeman from the Xiangshan sub-station, Zheng Baoguo, arranged for him to stay at a hotel and baths establishment, called the Zhulian Hotel, in a room next to the baths. According to a village resident, the hotel was actually owned by the Mentou village committee. Yang Jun’s fiancee said that after they began to live at the hotel, the policeman Zheng Baoguo stayed in the room next to theirs, “he said it was for our safety.” These facts have been confirmed by the hotel.

Since Yang Jun and his fiancee were not in a condition to negotiate a compensation agreement while in prison, as soon as he got out, he began to rush about. An employee at the Zhulian Baths said that he frequently went to meetings with his body draped in the Chinese flag.

According to evidence provided by a Mentou villager, on 08-28 Yang Jun went to the Xiangshan neighborhood office to  meet police from the  Xiangshan sub-station, a Sijiqing town legal staff member, and Mentou village committee personnel, to negotiate a solution to the compensation problem. The first issue Yang Jun raised was the problem of his living situation after his release from prison. “At least give us a more standard place to live, the room next to the baths is very damp.” During the course of the meeting, Yang Jun became quite stirred up, and in the end no progress was made.

On 09-04, Yang Jun, once again draped in a Chinese flag, went to the Jingxiang Weiye company  office to carry out a protest. The member of the police in charge of protecting him, Zheng Baoguo, left before the meeting was over. A Mentou villager, Mr Jin, said the two sides parted on bad terms. “The company representative was impatient, and said it was time to teach Yang Jun a lesson [beat him up].”

On 09-05,  the policeman Zheng Baoguo went away from Yang Jun and his fiancee, saying “I am busy today.” That evening after dinner, Yang Jun was at the entrance of the Zhulian Hotel baths, when six unidentified men grabbed him and beat with clubs. Then he was taken to Jishuitan Hospital for treatment.

Yang Jun’s fiancee Li Rong said,  at 7:10 that night she and Yang Jun were taking a walk in the parking lot near the hotel baths. when suddenly men carrying iron clubs accosted them and began hitting Yang Jun on his legs. She said since she was focused on trying to help Yang Jun, so she doesn’t remember the faces or appearance of the men, beyond that there were six or seven of them. During the struggle, both Yang Jun’s legs were cut badly, and lots of blood was flowing, and Li Rong was injured on the calf of one leg. They were beaten for several minutes, until Yang Jun was no longer able to stand up.

Li Rong said a passerby saw what was happening and called for help, but the group threatened him, and he ran away. Li Rong said, “They were extremely ruthless, beating a man as though to cause him to be permanently handicapped.”

The hotel baths manager said he was on duty at the time, but he did not see what was going on outside. At about 7:30 Li Rong rushed in, dragging her bloody leg,  and shouted, “Yang Jun has been attacked,” and asked to borrow a phone. She called 110, and the manager called the Xiangshan police sub-station. The manager then went outside and found Yang Jun lying in the parking lot, both legs badly wounded.  Soon afterwards the police came with an ambulance, which took him to Jishuitan Hospital [a large hospital in central Beijing] .

After receiving treatment there,, on 09-06 he was transferred to the De’erkangni orthopedic hospital in the 4th ring. Li Rong was admitted to the same hospital for her injuries.

A Mentou villager Mr. Sui said, he received a phone call from Yang Jun when he was in the  Jishuitan Hospital,  to let people know about his injuries. He said that he was already better, but he was worried about what might happen next. Then, fifteen days later,  Mr Sui heard that his good friend Yang Jun had died on 09-14.  He immediately went to the hospital to find out what had happened,  but the hospital entrance was guarded by police who refused to let him in.

The  De’erkangni hospital director said, because the matter was a criminal case, the hospital needed to ask for instructions from the Haidian Public Security department before answering any questions. Up till yesterday evening, as this story was going to press, they had not yet answered.

The day before yesterday, this reporter went to visit De’erkangni hospital. On the second floor inpatient ward, there were two guards on duty, blocking off all the passageways. Only after making a request to public security, was I allowed to enter. I followed along behind a patient who was being wheeled to the lunch room, but my presence was soon discovered by an on-duty nurse. The nurse said if I wanted to visit Li Rong,  I needed to get consent from the police unit assigned to the hospital. After several minutes, a plain-clothes policeman hurried up and denied my request for a visit. He said he was from the Xiangshan sub-station. After Yang Jun had been assaulted and died, Li Rong had been under 24 hour guard, and no one was allowed to see her without the consent of the Haidian district police.

Li Rong made statements previous to this, that  after being transferred to the De’erkangni orthopedic hospital, that she was under constant police guard “for her own protection.” Even when she went to the bathroom, a police officer followed her. “I came to realize I was under house arrest. I was not allowed to go out, not allowed to make a telephone call.” If she wanted to contact a reporter, she had to do it secretly, hiding her action from the police.

Apparently the case was in the hands of the Xiangshan police sub-station, but the Haidian district station began an investigation into what happened. When Yang Jun died, the Beijing City Corruption Squad took over. 

When the Beijing City squad came to De’erkangni hospital to interview Li Rong,  even though they were from the city government, the Xiangshan police would not let them in until they had contacted their superiors. The Xianghan policemen then refused to let the officers from the city squad take Li Rong away for questioning. 

According to Li Rong’s previous statements, after Yang Jun was attacked she was always with him, together at the same hospital. Before he died, they chatted together everyday, and he seemed to be recovering normally.

On the morning of 09-13, the hospital states that Yang Jun underwent an operation to remove steel plate from his leg [see note below]. But at 8 in the evening, this operation was still going on. A little after 9, Yang Jun was brought back to his hospital room. Li Rong has stated, that at that time his face was pale, his lips were blue, and he had fallen into a coma. Several doctors rushed in to try and save him.  On 09-14 the hospital stated that Yang Jun had died because of a mishap during surgery, but it has not yet released the cause of death.

After Yang Jun was assaulted, the police investigated and eventually arrested several suspects. According to a Mentou villager, these included several employees of the Jingxiang Weiye Development Company, the Mentou village Secretary Liu Jitang and the Demolition Director Zuo Baowang. This villager said that after the Beijing City Corruption Squad entered the investigation, a friend of his in city government said they are investigating links between local officials, the real estate company,  and underground gangsters.

The Jingxiang Weiye Development Company and the Mentor village committee share the same office. When this reporter went there a woman staff member said she did not know about the assault of Yang Jun. She said Mentou village Secretary Liu Jitang and Demolition Director Zuo Baowang were both away on business trips and she did not know when they would return, and she did not have any phone numbers to contact them. 

Neither the Beijing City police or the Haidian public security office would make any comment, saying the case was still under investigation.

Note: if Yang Jun had steel plate put into his leg to fix broken bones, it is hard to imagine why there would be a need to remove the plate so soon after it was put in, unless something went wrong in the first operation.

konjaku: now we move to the incidents in 2011:

The developer’s broad ax demolishes Mentou village– an on-the-spot report!

2011-04-22

http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_73cc4bd50100q1bv.html

Recently, in order to make us move away, the developer has used a series of illicit methods to harass us and obstruct our daily lives. In continuous attacks over just ten days, the despicable actions they have carried out are:

First attack: dig ditches and release water. On 03-23 the developer sent workers with excavators to dig ditches all around our houses. These ditches they flooded with water, putting our houses in danger. This action was illegal, not covered in the construction permit, an action whose purpose was only to harass the residents.

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Second attack: cut off water and electricity to residents.  On 03-24 employees of the developer used excavators to expose and damage the pipes of the village water supply. They also dug around the foundations of buildings to cut off the electricity. Once we discovered this activity we were able to stand in the way and to obstruct their progress, thus they could not completely carry out their purpose. Those who act illegally like gangsters will continue to be gangsters, and they have since then tried multiple times to succeed in cutting off our utilities.

Third attack: obstructing traffic. On 03-29 at about one in the morning, the developer had trucks unload the garbage from the construction site in front of houses, blocking up the roads. We had no choice to seek help from the police, and the city management department has already promised to move the garbage away (but up to now they have not done anything). These gangsters cause trouble for city management, for the garbage to be moved by one party and then transported again by another, must be to increase the GDP. We hope rather that the police will exhibit the spirit of duty in the service of the taxpayers, and swiftly bring to justice those who commit illegal acts. If not, it will be hard not to suspect them of collusion!

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The developers have already brandished their three-sided broad ax. Who will next appear on the scene. What will be the next act of this play? We can only wait and see.

We continue to wonder when City Management will carry out their promise and remove the garbage.  If they remove it in a timely manner, that will at least show they are not in collusion with the developer. 

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If the Haidian police cannot solve such a simple case and arrest the unlawful perpetrators,  they will lose face, big time.  Everyone says that Public Security is in cahoots with the developer. We will crack the case ourselves and let everyone see that they are in collusion.

The crime of destroying property

http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_016080460100rzx5.html

2011-04-14

In Haidian district Mentou village,  the  curtain on the next act of the play has opened. First there was the developer’s three-sided broadax–now it is a new method of attack — smashing cars.

Yesrerday night hoodlums came with the hatchets and stones, and smashed the windows of the Zhanjiang family car. They damaged the trunk and left an ax sitting on top of it as a calling card. The Zhanjiang family this morning reported the incident to the police, and requested that the police do their duty and safeguard the property of citizens.

The Zhanjiang house, slated for demolition, encounters a surprise attack in the middle of the night

http://www.msguancha.com/a/lanmu49/2013/0615/6917.html

2011-04-26, before dawn, Mentou village resident Zhanjiang was beaten by attackers. He says the developer is using underworld criminals to force residents to move out of their homes. 

Sometime after one at night, six or seven thugs suddenly appeared. They carried hatchets, steel rods, or other weapons. As soon as they arrived they struck at the windows of the house, and smashed the family car. When Zhanjiang went out to confront him they beat him severely, resulting in injuries to face, torso and legs. Before going outside Zhanjiang had called the police. They arrived after he had been attacked, and took him to the hospital, but did nothing more after that.

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The Zhanjiang house is slated to be demolished by the Jingxiang weiye real estate company,  whose legal representative is Yan Chunrong. The location on which the house sits is part of an area designated to be turned into a green zone by the township government. However the township government and the Mentou village committee have secretly colluded to sell the land to a developer, to build commercial housing. Many villagers are resentful to both the government and the developer, and have refused to sign contracts or negotiate compensation with the developer. This situation has led to violent incidents initiated by the developer, to which the government is turning a blind eye. 

konjaku:after this Zhanjiang became a candidate for a seat on the village committee. He issued the following statement.

Why are the village affairs not being made public? Is it possible there is something rotten they are trying to hide from view?

https://peacehall.com/news/gb/china/2011/03/201103222229.shtml

1. [Summary of legal status of village land from the 1958 People’s Commune on]. The Shijiqing township corporation has no authority to sell or transfer possession of the village land.

2. The Mentou village committee has colluded with the developer and the township government, to seize farmland, orchards, and forest land which the villagers depend on for their livelihood. They have submitted an application to the city to turn ten acres of this land into a park, but they are actually using another 400 acres to construct a golf course, the Beijing Xiangshan International Golf Club.

3. As the State Council has clearly stated: cultivated land is to be preserved, it is not permitted to construct residences or villas on it. The village committee and the Shijiqing township government have offered 750 acres of village farmland for sale, and they have built 300 villas with an asking prices of 100,000 yuan, the Xiangshan Qingqin Villas. Offering the land for sale was not discussed at a meeting of all the villagers, and the villagers did not get any proceeds from the sale. 

4. In 2005, sections of Mentou village were demolished and the residents relocated, in order to fulfill the city-level plan of creating a separate green zone. According to the plan, replacement housing would be built, and offered to the villagers at a reduced cost. The village committee and township government announced the price would be 1548 yuan per square meter, but when the buildings were completed, they hatched a swindle and raised the price to 3600 yuan, deceiving the villagers.

5. In this 2005 project, the villagers were supposed to get replacement residences calculated at 75 square meters per person, but they only received 50.

6. In the 2005 project, the replacement housing was built on land to which rights of use were obtained, but in the current replacement housing being built, the legal approvals and standard procedures have not been followed. The villas being built are illegal, non-conforming buildings.

7. The village committee has not followed the requirements of the construction department in providing, within 90 days after residents move in, the appropriate ratified certificates for land use,  rights of title, house and buildings operation manual,  and guarantee of service quality. This is a violation of real estate law.

8. Information on village undertakings has not been released to the public. Amount of money spent on food and drink, amount of money to purchase cars, amount of money spent on trips: the village committee should make all these figures public to avoid misunderstandings.

9 The village committee should follow legal stipulations in the management of village collective land. When this land is levied or occupied, rented out, or transferred,  they should convene a village assembly and solicit the villager’s opinions. Those so-called “village representatives” should not have the last word.

10. The village committee should set up an internet message board and a site for people to express their opinions. Village affairs should be made public through broadcasts, closed-circuit tv, and publications. After people are made aware of village matters, the village committee should make an effort to listen to the opinions of the many. They should be receptive to inquiries, and make an effort to provide complete answers.  The People’s Proctor should check and examine all financial expenditures. This will preserve the autonomy and rights of the villagers under the law.

https://chinadigitaltimes.net/chinese/2013/06/维权网-选举观察工作室简报(之十四)

“Rights protection” independent candidate Zhangjiang, from Haidian district Mentou village,  was being watched by police for the duration of the time period of “6-4”  [Tiananmen square anniversary]. His every move was being shadowed. When he went out, the police followed right next to him. This situation went on until 06-06. On 06-05 when  he went to vote in the village election as a candidate for the village committee, the police stayed right on him the whole time, making this an interesting tableau of Chinese democracy. 

Zhanjiang said the villagers were not very enthusiastic about the election. Many abstained from voting, many sent just one person from their household to vote for all of them. At the voting place,  election staff members supervised the choices of the voters,  often filling in their election ballot in their place, in order to vote for themselves [as candidates for the village committee].

photos: Mentor village replacement housing (1), the villas constructed for sale (2)

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Unknown-1.jpeg

konjaku: finally, there is this incident from 2013. The Jin family may have been one of the last hold-outs, since construction of replacement housing began in 2013-09. However, one source says demolition of the village was in 2014-02.

A victim of demolition, Jin Riliang,  while defending his house was arrested on the charge of “trying to pick a quarrel”

https://qiangzhichaiqian.wordpress.com/page/15/?app-download=ios

This incident began at around 8 o’clock in the morning on 09-07-2013 at Mentou village. A number of men arrived in front of the house of Jin driving a small excavator, and an altercation developed. From the previous four years there had been an ongoing dispute over whether the land was owned by the Jin family, or was a part of village collective land, and what amount of compensation the Jin family would be able to receive, and they had made multiple appeals to avoid the demolition.

Because of the dispute regarding demolition, the Jin family had tried to protect their house by surrounding it with iron mesh netting. Jin Riliang said that on the morning in question he suddenly heard an unusual noise and rushed outside. “ I saw several men dressed in black and wearing steel helmets. They had already cut apart the mesh and were entering our courtyard. Jin Riliang stated that there were at least fifty of these men, whom he had never seen before.

By 3 o’clock in the afternoon the wire mesh had been removed and a cordon of police were blocking off the area. The excavator was right in front of the Jin family house, its engine roaring. 

“There was nothing else I could do but run up to the attic of the house. The excavator’s arm was already aimed at the outer wall of our house. I warned them not to go further.” Jin Riliang then picked up pieces of roof tile and threw them at the excavator and at the men below.

Videotape taken by the Jin family confirms his story. The video shows pieces of roof tile raining down on the excavator’s glass windshield, then on the men in the courtyard, who protected themselves with metal screens.

Videotape taken by a villager shows that also present were several  plainclothes men who are members of the village committee, including the Mentou village party branch secretary.

konjaku: statement from a blog. I was unable to access this site directly.

Respected elders and fellow villagers: I believe that all of us support the transformation of old villages, and we support the Beijing city urbanization construction project. At the same time we strongly believe the process should be lawful, with the final plan determined by negotiation and subject to a vote by the villagers. The plan should give us villagers an equitable compensation amount. How is an equitable and lawful compensation to be arrived at? It should be according to the “Land Management Law of the People’s Republic of China” (1986, rev. 2004), under which our land is treated as collectively owned (by the villagers).

konjaku: the Land Management Law does require agreement by “two-thirds of the members of the village assembly.”

Within the duration of the contract for operation of land, any appropriate readjustment of the land between individual contractors shall be made with the agreement of at least two-thirds of the members of the villagers assembly or of the representatives of villagers and the matter shall be submitted to the township (town) people’s government and the agriculture administration department of the people’s government at the county level for approval.

Land owned by peasant collectives shall be operated under a contract by units or individuals that do not belong to the economic organizations of the said collectives, with the agreement of at least two-thirds of the members of the villagers assembly or of the representatives of villagers, and the matter shall be submitted to the township (town) people’s government for approval.

http://www.npc.gov.cn/englishnpc/Law/2007-12/12/content_1383939.htm

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