BEIJING Aug 7 Not every Beijinger will be
cheering the opening of the summer Olympics on Friday, despite
a huge swell of patriotic fervour in almost every corner of the
city and across the country.
Forced evictions to make way for many of the stunning Games
venues and other beautification projects sprucing up China's
grimy capital have made life miserable for some and sapped
their Olympic spirit.
"My situation is not good," said one man, whose house was
demolished in front of his eyes late last year to make way for
a car park to the south of the main "Bird's Nest" stadium.
"I don't feel much joy for the Olympic Games," he added,
asking not to be identified. "Isn't this supposed to be a
Human rights groups have repeatedly expressed concern about
the evictions and say Beijing is not living up to its promises
that the Olympics will improve the country's rights record.
The Geneva-based Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions
estimates that 1.5 million people were moved to make way for
Olympic projects and the massive makeover Beijing has had for
the Games. It has come at a price, the group says.
"The Olympic Games have been used as a justification to
speed up housing rights violations that were already existing
and to weaken people's ability to fight for their human
rights," the group's senior research officer, Deanna Fowler,
"People who have stood up and asked for greater
compensation or asked not to be moved have faced harassment and
The government, and Games organisers, angrily dismiss the
"The fact of the matter is only about 6,000 families have
been involved in the Olympic relocation programme," said
Beijing Games organiser spokesman Sun Weide recently.
"It's very important to improve people's living standards.
As a result of the relocation programmes, the living area for
Beijing residents has increased from about 20 square metres in
the last century to 60 square metres at the moment."
Rights groups say the government is being disingenuous in
denying there is a problem, though.
"There's enough evidence to suggest that many people have
been forced out of their homes without proper or adequate
compensation," said Mark Allison, a China researcher at Amnesty
International in Hong Hong.
Some residents who have protested have been detained.
Ni Yulan, a 47-year-old lawyer, is awaiting trial on
charges of "obstructing a public official" after resisting the
demolition of her house.
She was hit with a brick and dragged to the ground during
the incident, according to Human Rights Watch.
Another housing activist, Ye Guozhu, considered by Amnesty
a prisoner of conscience, was supposed to have been released
from jail last month after serving a term for organising
protests against forced evictions related to the Games.
But instead he was taken from prison to a detention centre
in another part of Beijing.
"I have not been able to see him, as all my requests have
been turned down by the police," his lawyer, Mo Shaoping, told
Reuters by telephone.
"They said he did not want a lawyer, but we've not been
able to confirm that with him.
"There's nothing unusual about wanting to actually meet
with your client," Mo added dryly.
(Editing by Nick Macfie)
(For more stories visit our multimedia website "Road to
and see our blog at blogs.reuters.com/china)