Three Gorges Probe

Migrants not above the law, newspaper warns

Three Gorges Probe
January 17, 2002

People displaced by the Three Gorges dam should not regard themselves as “special citizens” above the law, the Three Gorges Project Daily (Sanxia gongcheng bao) has warned.

People displaced by the Three Gorges dam should not regard themselves as “special citizens” above the law, the Three Gorges Project Daily (Sanxia gongcheng bao) has warned.

In an article hinting at serious resettlement-related social problems, the newspaper said that some migrants are flouting the law in their new location. Reporters who visited Hechuan city and Dianjiang, Liangping and Tongliang counties, all in Chongqing municipality, found breaches of law and discipline among a small number of migrants.

Some newcomers are conducting business in an illegal manner, or refusing to pay income taxes and other fees, such as road and bridge tolls. The newspaper said these migrants believe they should enjoy special status “because without our personal sacrifice, the Three Gorges dam could never be built.”

Officials in host areas tend to turn a blind eye to social problems caused by the influx in a misguided effort to keep a lid on the situation, the newspaper said. It noted that some migrants have found it hard to adapt to their new places, and competition for employment has led to conflicts between newcomers and the host population.

“People with ulterior motives have taken advantage of the situation to try and incite migrants to take collective action against the government in both sending and receiving regions,” the newspaper said, in an apparent reference to the case of four migrant representatives who have been jailed for “disrupting Three Gorges resettlement work.”

The four men from Yunyang county, Chongqing municipality, were arrested last March after trying to petition the central government for fair treatment for migrants. He Kechang has been sentenced to three years in jail, while Wen Dingchun, Jiang Qingshan and Ran Chongxing received two-year terms. [See Three Gorges Probe, Nov. 23, 2001, “Migrant leaders sentenced for resettlement appeals.” ]

The Three Gorges Project Daily said that while it is true that migrants had to give up their homes “for the common good and prosperity of the country,” others also had to make a contribution; local people in the host communities, for example, deserve praise for being willing to have their farmland redistributed to accommodate everyone.

It is imperative that migrants receive “ideological education” so they can become law-abiding model citizens who get along with their hosts, rather than troublemakers who cause unrest because they think they are “special citizens,” the newspaper said.

The first priority of local authorities must be to “strengthen propaganda” on resettlement policy and offer training programs in which migrants learn about their rights and responsibilities, and are encouraged “to get rich” through lawful hard work, the newspaper said.

Categories: Three Gorges Probe

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