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Forced Evictions in China on the Rise

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Prior to the 2008 Olympics, many Chinese are becoming aware that forced displacement is a consequence not solely of natural disasters and wars. Increasing numbers of Chinese civilians are losing their homes to development projects and the Chinese government’s objective to “control” certain ethnic minorities in preparation for the 2008 Olympics.
Prior to the 2008 Olympics, many Chinese people are becoming aware of the fact that forced displacement is not a consequence solely of natural disasters and wars. According to a recent report released by the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) on 5 June 2007, an estimated 1.25 million people have been displaced due to Olympic-related development projects in China.1 COHRE’s report shows that while this trend has not been well-documented in the past, there has been a pattern of mass forced evictions occurring prior to the Olympics and other mega events. For example in Asia, before the 1988 Seoul Olympics, 720,000 people were forcibly evicted from their homes in South Korea.2

Due to the increasing number of forced evictions, many Chinese civilians have started to fight back. On June 13th, around 5,000 residents in the northern city of Hohhot rioted after armed police tried to evict them from apartments earmarked for demolition. According to the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy organization, there were accounts of abuses of the displaced residents’ rights, including little or no notice of eviction, false promises of compensation, as well as violence and intimidation.3

Forced evictions are not only occurring as a result of development projects but also in order to control certain minority groups. In a recent case, the Chinese government forcibly relocated Tibetan farmers to urban areas without any compensation or consultation, and in the process the government slaughtered their livestock and undermined their cultural traditions.4

Despite the positive effects that the Olympics games may have on China, such as economic development, we need to remember that alternatively there is the possibility of human rights abuses such as forced eviction. Increasing international attention and accountability for such human rights abuses is needed.

For more information regarding the recent report released by the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) titled "Fair Play for Housing Rights: Mega-Events, Olympic Games and Housing Rights" on 5 June 2007, please visit their website:

2 Ibid