Protesters slam housing official
Dozens of Guangzhou residents protested outside the Communist Party's Guangdong committee offices yesterday, urging new party chief Wang Yang to punish corrupt senior officials.
About 100 protesters, mostly seniors from three streets, complained of illegal evictions dating back as long as four years.
They delivered a petition addressed to Mr Wang and unfurled several long banners showing their support for his leadership, appealing for 'fairness and justice' and the dismissal and punishment of housing official Xie Xiaodan .
Mr Xie is the head of the Guangzhou Land and Housing Bureau. The protesters accused him and his predecessor, Jian Wenhao, of colluding with developers to illegally evict residents of the three streets - Shamian, Yuqi and Gaodi - in the past few years.
They claimed Mr Xie took bribes and disregarded orders from the provincial government and even President Hu Jintao in order to 'build an independent kingdom, ignoring the central government and the law in Guangzhou'.
About a dozen police asked the protesters to put the banners away.
'Are you really Guangzhou residents?' a police officer asked one protester. 'Do you not know you are damaging the image of the city?'
The protester responded: 'Why did you police not protect our rights as residents?'
A bureau spokesman said the agency would not be able to provide details about the dispute until today because the official in charge of the case was out.
He said it was common for different interest groups in relocations to have their own version of cases.
Hong Kong resident Pang Ka-wei bought a shop attached to a home in Gaodi Street four years ago to rent out. She said Jinhongshun, a developer, had tried to pull down hundreds of old houses and shops in the street since 2003 to make way for a new business building.
Ms Pang said that in order to push ahead with the project, the company started demolitions before getting residents' permission.
The project affected about 500 families and, after years of legal wrangling, the Guangdong government in 2006 revoked Jinhongshun's right to use the land.
But Ms Pang said that with the support of the city's intermediate court, Mr Xie and the housing bureau, Jinhongshun forged ahead with its construction plans. She said the company sent thugs to harass residents, hoping to frighten them out.
Another resident said her home was broken into twice within three months last year.
The residents said they suspected the thieves had been sent by the developer because they broke through a bricked-up window to steal several thousand yuan. 'Of course we are scared,' one resident said. 'But I was born here and am almost in my 50s. I have no else where to move.'
Jinhongshun could not be reached for comment.