Thu, Nov 09, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Petitioners for housing rights abused by police

AP , SHANGHAI

Several Shanghai residents due to face trial this week for allegedly causing public disturbances while protesting over housing disputes have been beaten and subjected to other forms of physical abuse while in police custody, a rights group said yesterday.

Du Yangming (杜陽明), Wang Shuizhen (王水珍) and Tian Baocheng (田寶成) were due to appear in court yesterday on charges of "causing a disturbance" during a meeting of Chinese and Central Asian officials in June, the advocacy group Human Rights in China (HRIC) said in a statement.

The three are among 15 whose family members and others say have been beaten and otherwise mistreated while in police detention. All have been petitioning the government over forced evictions and demolitions of their homes, the group said.

None of the defendants can afford to hire lawyers, and court-appointed lawyers have refused to meet with their family members or show them copies of the indictment documents.

HRIC, based in New York, urged authorities to stop police from abusing Shanghai housing protesters -- some of whom are mistreated while being escorted back home after attempting to petition higher officials in Beijing.

Shanghai has relocated millions of its 20 million residents to clear land for the construction of luxury apartment compounds, shopping malls and hotels. Most of those moved are offered apartments in distant suburbs lacking convenient transportation and other amenities.

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