Uyghur Farmer Wages Uphill Battle Over Land Grab

Radio Free Asia.2013-12-05

An ethnic Uyghur farmer in northwestern China’s Xinjiang region has been fighting a seven-year battle for justice over the seizure of his land that led to his home being flattened to make way for a building project while he was locked up in detention.

His case is one of many land grabs exacerbating tensions in Xinjiang, where ethnic minority Uyghurs accuse Han Chinese of displacing them from their traditional homeland and depriving them of economic opportunities under strict Beijing rule.

Semi Niyaz, 60, of Suntagh township in southwestern Xinjiang’s Atush city, has repeatedly petitioned authorities in the regional capital Urumqi and in Beijing since his 26 mu (4 acres) of land in Shoruq village were taken over by a government-linked company in 2006.

The land was part of 500 mu (82 acres) that residents said Junkun Company had seized illegally with the collaboration of local authorities, prompting Niyaz and other farmers to protest the move.

Niyaz, who was paid 300,000 yuan (about U.S. $49,000) for the 8 mu (1.3 acres) that his home and garden were on, but nothing for his farmland, has made several trips to Beijing and Urumqi seeking the return of his land.

But his seven years of petitioning have earned him no redress, only two stints in detention, he said.

“I cannot find any legal solution in Xinjiang, or in China,” he told RFA’s Uyghur Service…..(…)

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