China continues to evict 13,000 people each month in preparation for the Beijing Olympics, despite worldwide attention and increased scrutiny, a housing rights group said yesterday.
The Center on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) said a recent trip to the Chinese capital confirmed an estimate it made earlier this year that 1.5 million people would be displaced by the time the Games are held.
Beijing says the group is grossly inflating the number of people being relocated as a result of the Olympic preparations, and that residents are content with the compensation they have received.
"Despite courageous protests inside China, and condemnation by many international human rights organizations, the Beijing municipality and Beijing Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games have persisted with these evictions and displacements," said Jean du Plessis, the Geneva-based COHRE's deputy director.
The group -- which claimed in June that 1.25 million had already been displaced -- said it returned to Beijing in August and found that forced evictions were continuing unabated.
In September, the Beijing municipality knocked down several buildings in a run-down neighborhood called the "petitioners' village" in Fengtai District, which provided housing for thousands from all over China who came to complain to the central government about land seizures, forced evictions and corruption, COHRE said.
"Evictions in Beijing often involve the complete demolition of poor peoples' houses," the group said. "The inhabitants are then forced to relocate far from their communities and workplaces, with higher transportation costs driving them further into poverty."
"In Beijing, and in China more generally, the process of demolition and eviction is characterized by arbitrariness and lack of due process. In many cases, tenants are given little or no notice of their eviction and do not receive the promised compensation," the group said.
In August, the director of Beijing's construction committee said only about 40,000 people were being relocated yearly, and about 2,000 were moved to build new venues for the games. Sui Zhenjiang also said residents were adequately compensated, adding that 16,000 to 17,000 "affordable" houses had been built in the city of 15 million.
"The 1.5 million figure is definitely wrong," Sui said of COHRE's estimation.
COHRE also criticized Myanmar and Slovakia on Thursday for "pervasive housing rights violations" this year.
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