TenantNet Forum

Where tenants can seek help and help others



Beijing Olympics: 2007 Int'l Housing Rights Violators

Moderator: TenantNet

Beijing Olympics: 2007 Int'l Housing Rights Violators

Postby TenantNet » Wed Dec 05, 2007 1:40 pm

Housing Rights Awards 2007
http://www.cohre.org/view_page.php?page_id=277

Beijing Municipality and the Beijing Organising Committee of the Olympic Games named Housing Rights Violator for widespread evictions and displacements

The Geneva-based Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) has jointly named the Beijing Municipality and the Beijing Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (BOCOG) one of three Housing Rights Violators of 2007 for the eviction and displacement of over 1.25 million people.

Each year, COHRE presents its Housing Rights Violator Awards to three governments or other institutions guilty of particularly serious and pervasive housing rights violations in the preceding year. COHRE has issued these awards since 2002. This year the Beijing Municipality and BOCOG jointly share the Violator Awards with Slovakia and the “State Peace and Development Council” (SPDC) of Burma.

Jean du Plessis, COHRE’s Deputy Director, said, “The Beijing Municipality and BOCOG have violated the housing rights of over 1.25 million residents of Beijing in pursuit of relentless economic growth, including the hosting of international showpieces such as the Olympic Games. The mass displacements and evictions implemented in Beijing are a clear case of the illegitimate use of evictions as a tool of development by the Beijing Municipality and BOCOG, in a bid to transform the city into a ‘world-class metropolis’ fit to host the ‘best Olympic Games ever.’ Despite courageous protests inside China, and condemnation by many international human rights organisations, the Beijing Municipality and BOCOG have persisted with these evictions and displacements. COHRE’s research has shown how the awarding of the Olympic bid to Beijing by the IOC has been used as a pretext to ride roughshod over rights of affected residents.”

In June 2007, COHRE’s report Fair Play for Housing Rights: Mega-Events and the Protection and Promotion of Housing Rights revealed that 1.25 million people had already been displaced in Beijing, in preparation for the 2008 Games. At that time, COHRE called for the immediate halting of such evictions. However, COHRE’s most recent visit to Beijing in August 2007 confirmed that forced evictions and displacements had continued unabated. For example, when COHRE researchers revisited Hujialou, Chaoyang District, in August 2007, they found that one of the main buildings used for housing in the area had been demolished. One of the displaced residents, a young man in his thirties, told COHRE he had no other place to go.

Du Plessis said, “COHRE estimates that a total of 1.5 million people will be displaced from their homes by the time the Games commence in August 2008. The lack of legal remedies to resist these evictions, the inadequate compensation and resettlement provided to those evicted, the use of extreme force in carrying out evictions, and police brutality towards those protesting against land grabs and forced evictions, are testimony to the Beijing Municipality and BOCOG’s complete disregard for the human right to adequate housing. Removing people from their homes is not only a human rights violation, but contrary to the ‘Olympic Spirit’ as well.”

In September 2007, the Beijing Municipality demolished several buildings in a run down neighbourhood called the ‘petitioners village’ in Fengtai District, which provided housing for thousands of people from all over China who came to petition the central government. The destruction of cheap housing and accommodation in the Fengtai District has made it harder for many poor and disadvantaged Chinese to come to Beijing to seek redress for their grievances. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese from all over the mainland flock to Beijing each year to lodge petitions on issues such as illegal land seizures, forced evictions and corruption.

The main areas in which evictions have been carried out within the Municipality of Beijing during the period between 2000 and 2007 are neighbourhoods in the four central districts of the capital where overcrowding and old or dangerous housing is common; namely Dongcheng, Xicheng, Chongwen and Xuanwu. Large-scale evictions have also been carried out in several Chengzhongcun (literally, villages in the city), poor informal settlements comprising housing that has not been approved for construction, does not comply with building codes and typically is not properly serviced. The most extensive of these are settlements found between the second and fifth ring roads in the extended urban districts of Chaoyang, Fengtai, Shijingshan and Haidian.

Evictions in Beijing often involve the complete demolition of poor peoples’ houses. The inhabitants are then forced to relocate far from their communities and workplaces, with higher transportation costs driving them further into poverty. In Beijing, and in China more generally, the process of demolition and eviction is characterized by arbitrariness and lack of due process. In many cases, tenants are given little or no notice of their eviction and do not receive the promised compensation.

COHRE’s Du Plessis said, “The evictions and displacements caused by the Beijing Municipality and BOCOG are in complete contradiction to the spirit and ideals of the Olympic Movement, which aims to foster peace, solidarity and respect for universal fundamental principles. The Olympic Movement has made admirable commitments towards creating positive housing legacies in its Olympic Charter, Code of Ethics, and the Olympic Movement Agenda 21. Yet, COHRE’s research indicates that there is unfortunately still a long way to go for the Olympic Movement to meet these commitments.”

BEIJING: Fact Sheet

China is striving to ensure that the 2008 Olympic Games will firmly establish its credentials as a genuine superpower of the 21st century. The construction of this image has required a thorough transformation of Beijing’s residents, work places, modes of living, transport and culture.

In June 2007, COHRE’s report Fair Play for Housing Rights: Mega-Events and the Protection and Promotion of Housing Rights revealed that 1.25 million people had already been displaced in Beijing as a result of urban development linked to the Olympic Games, and unknown numbers of these people were forcibly evicted. At least a further 250,000 people are expected to be displaced in the final year before the Olympic Games, resulting in a total of 1.5 million people being displaced in Beijing by August 2008 due to Olympics related development. These figures do not include approximately 400,000 migrants living ‘temporarily’ in 171 neighbourhoods in situations of extreme insecurity, having come to Beijing due to lack of livelihood opportunities in rural areas.

COHRE’s most recent visit to Beijing in August 2007 confirmed that forced evictions and displacements continue unabated. For example, when COHRE researchers revisited Hujialou, Chaoyang District, in August 2007, they found that one of the main buildings used for housing in the area had been demolished. One of the displaced residents, a young man in his thirties, told COHRE he had no other place to go.

Residents of a housing project situated outside the city centre in Hujialou are also threatened with eviction from the rental apartments many have inhabited for more than 20 years. The district government has condemned the buildings as dangerous, and plans to utilise much of the land for road expansion and building a commercial centre. Most of the current residents will not be allowed to return to the neighbourhood if the redevelopment goes ahead as planned. The current residents are not poor, but don’t make enough – many are already pensioners – to be able to buy new apartments with the compensation that is being offered. The former employer of the residents’ owns the buildings and stands to make a substantial amount of money by selling the land for redevelopment. COHRE’s fieldwork research reveals that there are several neighbourhoods in Beijing and other Chinese cities that are facing similar pressures.

In September 2007, the Beijing Municipality demolished several buildings in a run down neighbourhood called the ‘petitioners village’ in Fengtai District, which provided housing for thousands of people from all over China who came to petition the Central Government. The destruction of cheap housing and accommodation in the Fengtai District has made it harder for many poor and disadvantaged Chinese to come to Beijing to seek redress for their grievances. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese from all over the mainland flock to Beijing each year to lodge petitions on issues such as illegal land seizures, forced eviction and corruption.

A survey carried out by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences earlier this year, showed that 71 percent of 560 petitioners polled said they had been harassed or intimidated by local authorities. A similar study by the academy also revealed only three in 10,000 petitions submitted resulted in the grievances being resolved.

The main areas in which evictions have been carried out within the municipality of Beijing during the period between 2000 and 2007 are neighbourhoods in the four central districts of the capital where overcrowding and old or dangerous housing is common; namely Dongcheng, Xicheng, Chongwen and Xuanwu. Large-scale evictions have also been carried out in several Chengzhongcun (literally, villages in the city), informal settlements comprising housing that has not been approved for construction, does not comply with building codes and typically is not properly serviced. The most extensive of these are settlements now found between the second and fifth ring roads in the extended urban districts of Chaoyang, Fengtai, Shijingshan and Haidian.

Evictions in Beijing often involve the complete demolition of poor peoples’ houses. The inhabitants are then forced to relocate far from their communities and workplaces, with higher transportation costs driving them further into poverty. In Beijing, and in China more generally, the process of demolition and eviction is characterized by arbitrariness and lack of due process. In many cases, tenants are given little or no notice of their eviction and do not receive the promised compensation. This lack of adequate compensation (or any compensation at all) sometimes leaves the evictees at risk of homelessness. The forced evictions are often violent and abuses committed during the eviction processes have multiplied.

Download the full 2007 Housing Rights Awards Media Kit at:

http://www.cohre.org/store/attachments/ ... %20Kit.doc
The Tenant Network(tm) for Residential Tenants
Information from TenantNet is from experienced non-attorney tenant
activists and is not considered legal advice.

Subscribe to our Twitter Feed @TenantNet
TenantNet
 
Posts: 9368
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2002 2:01 am
Location: New York City

Return to General Discussion - beyond New York

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests