Beijing authorities have forcibly demolished buildings in a rundown neighbourhood which houses hundreds of petitioners from across the mainland who visit the capital to air their grievances to the central government. The move is part of the authorities' efforts to create a 'peaceful and harmonious society' in the capital ahead of the Communist Party's 17th National Congress next month. One of the petitioners surnamed Yu, who declined to give a full name, said the demolition began at about 2pm yesterday. Nearly 100 public security officers and security guards were on hand to prevent any clashes or resistance. Mr Yu said a bulldozer was used to knock down a 300 square metre, single-storey building. The authorities also sent a fire engine and ambulance in case of trouble. People living in the building were relocated to nearby tents and told to leave Beijing by the end of the weekend. It was the first time the authorities had pulled down buildings in the area, dubbed 'the petitioners' village', without the consent of owners, Mr Yu said. He said the city government had used the pretext of building a new railway station in the area to drive the petitioners out. Thousands of petitioners visit Beijing each year. Many, like Mr Yu, see it as their last resort to seek justice.