Chinese take land rights struggle to the streets as courts fail

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Chinese villagers fighting for land rights against corrupt officials have turned to violent protest due to failings in the country’s legal system.

Human Rights Watch’s Nicholas Bequelin has told Radio Australia’s <a href=”http://web.archive.org/web/20111111085549/http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/connectasia”>Connect Asia</a> program property laws allow local officials to seize land and evict its previous owners, making residents’ right of appeal in Government-controlled courts unachievable.

“After a while, the people decided if they can’t take their cases to the court they’ll take them to the streets,” he said.

Under the current system, local officials can privatise or claim resident owned land as state property in order to build infrastructure atop it or sell to private developers without compensation.

Last week, several hundred people attacked a Lufeng city police station after residents claimed they were pushed off their land to make way for a property development.

Mr Bequelin says protests have swept the country, with up to 400 incidences a day, as the Government adheres to protester demands more effectively than appeals made in court.

“This is really something the leadership has not been able put an end to despite their promises to build a harmonious society,” Mr Bequelin said.