Villagers re-build 1m demolished tombs in Henan

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 February, 2013, 7:06pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 February, 2013, 7:15pm

Villagers in Henan have secretly re-built one million of the two million tombs torn down last year under a controversial government “tomb-flattening” policy, the China Business Daily reported on Wednesday.

Authorities launched the unpopular policy of demolishing tombs in 2012. Henan’s provincial government said it was necessary to provide more land for agriculture. More than two million tombs had been destroyed since March 2012, the government claimed.

But Ge Hao, deputy official in charge of funeral affairs of small county Taikang, estimated about half the demolished tombs had been reconstructed.

In Wang Village, officials spent two days demolishing 160 tombs several months ago. But it took villagers only two hours to rebuild them during Chinese New Year, local man Wang Xinsheng told the paper.

Under the policy, residents in several cities in Henan were ordered to remove millions of tombs and cremate bodies instead of burying them. In return, each villager was given 500 yuan (HK$616) in compensation.

This sparked public outrage. Hundreds of intellectuals and citizens joined online petitions via social websites, urging the authorities to stop it.

After public pressure across the mainland, the government was forced to release revised regulations acknowledging local authorities had no right to tear down tombs without consulting villagers first. The new regulations took effect this year.

Villagers began defiantly re-building the tombs, in secret, after the revised regulations were announced, the news report said.