Three Gorges Probe

Migrant leaders sentenced for resettlement appeals

Three Gorges Probe

November 23, 2001

Four migrant leaders who tried to petition the government for fair treatment in the Three Gorges resettlement operation have been sentenced in Chongqing for “disturbing public order,” Legal Daily (Fazhi ribao) reported.

He Kechang has been sentenced to three years in jail, while Wen Dingchun, Jiang Qingshan and Ran Chongxing received two-year terms in the first case related to “disrupting Three Gorges resettlement work,” the newspaper said. The sentences were handed down by the Second Intermediate People’s Court of Chongqing Municipality.

The four men, informally elected migrant representatives from Gaoyang town in Yunyang county, were arrested in March this year when they tried to bring the misuse of resettlement funds to the attention of Chinese authorities. They have languished in jail since then.

The newspaper said that on Dec. 8 last year the four men, along with 15 others, formed a group called the Gaoyang Town Resettlement Monitoring Association “to achieve the goal of extorting compensation funds from the state.”

Mr. He, a retired worker from the Xiaojiang River Shipping Company, was appointed chairman of the group, and held many meetings “to plan how to incite villagers to refuse distant resettlement,” Legal Daily said. The newspaper also said that the group’s activities “led to a period of halt of resettlement work in Gaoyang town.”

But an exclusive report prepared for Three Gorges Probe by a correspondent in Chongqing tells a different story. In Behind the Dark Curtains, the writer says the migrant representatives were simply trying to protect their basic rights and expose how local officials have pocketed scarce resettlement funds and, with the help of underworld thugs, even attempted to kill migrants who risked their lives accusing officials of wrongdoing.

Patricia Adams, executive director of Probe International, said: “These sentences are designed to silence the thousands of impoverished migrants the four men represent. This is an ominous sign of what is to come as some 250,000 more people are forced to move in the next year alone to make way for the dam.”

Categories: Three Gorges Probe

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