Two million tombs in China’s central province of Henan were destroyed this year to make room for farm land, newspapers and websites on the mainland reported on Friday.
Local residents and scholars across China expressed their outrage via the internet. The removal of the tombs is part of a new policy by the Henan provincial government to provide more land for agriculture use. Since Thursday, hundreds of intellectuals and citizens have joined an online petition via Weibo, China’s twitter-like service. They urged the authorities to end the controversial policy.
Henan launched its “tomb-flattening” policy in May in selected cities, including Zhoukou, Luoyang, Nanyang, and Shagnqiu. Locals are being asked to give up tomb space and instead cremate dead relatives. They then receive 500 yuan (HK$625) in compensation.
Economist Qiu Feng condemned it. “People have the right to bury their families and these rights need to be protected,” he said.
Others say the practice offends traditional Chinese culture which emphasises respect for ancestors.
“The tombs ought to be protected to preserve the memories of our families,” argued popular writer Cui Weiping on Weibo.
The organiser  of the online petition said a growing number of supporters were now expressing their outrage on Weibo.