December 25, 2005
40 migrant farmers, forced from their villages by construction of the Three Gorges Dam, have been detained by police after protesting discrimination and hardship in their new homes in Qingdao, reports the Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy.
BEIJING–Migrant farmers forced from their villages by construction of the enormous Three Gorges Dam have been detained after protesting discrimination and hardship in their new homes, a human rights group said Monday. Forty migrants, representing a group of 1,119 relocated to Qingdao in eastern China’s Shandong province, were taken into custody Sunday after scuffling with police while trying to deliver a petition to the city government, the Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said. The protesters’ present whereabouts were unknown, the Hong Kong-based center said. An official who answered the phone at the Qingdao city government said he had no information about the report. A Qingdao police official said there had been a peaceful demonstration but that no arrests were made. Neither would give his name. More than 1.13 million people are being relocated ahead of the filling of the narrow, 248-kilometer-long (400-mile-long) reservoir behind the Three Gorges Dam, which will be the world’s largest hydroelectric project. Filling will take place in stages starting in June 2003. While most of those displaced will be relocated in new towns on high land near their old homes, others are being sent hundreds or thousands of kilometers (miles) away to unfamiliar territory. Migrants have complained that their new houses, farmland and other support provided by the government are inadequate. An unknown number have returned to their old homes. According to the center, the Qingdao migrants, who came from Chongqing in western China, complained their new land was too far from their homes and they had no money to buy farming equipment. Rice, their staple food, cost three times as much in Shandong than at home, but officials provided just 100 yuan ($1=CNY8.28) a month per person in living subsidies, the center said. Migrants also suffered routine discrimination at the hands of municipal authorities and the area’s residents, who speak a different dialect, it said. It said Saturday’s protest was prompted by officials’ refusal to take action after the beating of three Chongqing migrants by longtime Qingdao residents last Thursday.
Categories: Three Gorges Probe
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