China: The oppressed fight back !
For many years China has been at the centre of much controversy for its robust policies and methods in the implementation of development programmes. Allegations of human rights violations and abuses have frequently surfaced as corrupt officials have embarked on a programme of forced evictions through a process of land seizure. Lands are rapidly confiscated and sold to contractors in order to pay off government debts, and in the process homes are swiftly bulldozed and destroyed as demolition teams move in.
The eviction process is often initiated by the deployment of thugs who are sent to intimidate residents, issuing them with strict deadlines by which they should vacate their properties. Offers of compensation are often inadequate and residents are forced to accept such offers in order to protect themselves and their children from the savagery of those sent to evict them. Residents who protest against the unjust nature of the evictions are severely beaten and hospitalized. The cases of Cheng Xuxing who was savagely beaten and hospitalized for two months for refusing to vacate his residence, and that of Wang Jiazheng who set himself on fire on the roof of his house whilst the bulldozers forcibly demolished his house, exemplifies the harrowing effects of forced evictions and the unnecessary suffering that the weak and the oppressed regularly endure.
However in a recent turn of events, the oppressed fought back, demanded their human rights and subdued the oppressor in spectacular fashion. In October 2012, Shen Jianzhong a 38 year old Kung Fu fan who has been practising Bruce Lee’s system of Kung Fu for 20 years found himself and his family at the centre of a forced eviction programme. For months a property developer had been trying to confiscate properties in the area and posted numerous posters warning of serious repercussions for families who resisted and refused to vacate their properties. The threats proved quite effective as 70 out of the 100 households in the area evacuated. The remaining 30 households, which included Mr Shen’s, faced an increase in hostility as threats escalated.
Developers wanted to turn their village into a town and promised each family a new house of the same size within two years. However, having already heard of people in neighbouring villages getting a much better deal, Mr Shen decided to hold out and refused to sign the lease.
In a recent interview Mr Shen explained, "This mob of thugs would block the street most days. They would pick on the women, threatening to kill their kids. Then people started tossing bricks through windows and letting off fireworks at night. Some people got beaten on the street". 
On 29 October 2012 a mob of 30 to 50 thugs attacked Mr Shen’s home injuring his wife in the process. In attempts to protect his wife and children from the thugs, the Kung Fu fan unleashed a barrage of kicks and punches on the attackers rendering seven of them unconscious and left sprawled in the hallway. His 18 year old son, an ardent Kung Fu devotee also assisted in dismantling and subduing the thugs.
According to Mr Shen, "It was self defence. I really cannot remember what kung Fu skills I used. It was quite messy. Only seven people were injured because the rest were scared and stayed outside. Some of them ran away” (Ibid).
The Shen’s have since fled to Beijing where Mr Shen’s son was arrested on charges of assault. Mr Shen explained "I do not regret the fight, but I am worried about my son, I think they are trying to fit up him up with some crime. I am concerned that my actions will end up hurting him"(Ibid). Mr Shen has voiced concerns that the authorities are trying to fit up his son with crimes as a means of emotionally blackmailing him into signing over his lease.
This case highlights a growing trend in China, where an apparent collusion between government and property developers is becoming more prevalent. Such a relationship has undoubtedly enhanced human rights abuses and denied individuals their rights as stipulated in various international human rights instruments. Among such rights is the right to self-determination as stipulated in article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and various other human rights documents.
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