Farmer dies after self-immolation over forced demolition

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A farmer died and his father was severely injured as they protested the forced demolition of their pig farm in East China's Jiangsu province, in the second protest of its kind in four months.

Tao Huixi, 68, and his 92-year-old father locked themselves in the house and poured gasoline on the door as more than 100 people arrived to demolish the property in Taoli Industrial Park in Donghai county, Lianyungang on Saturday, the Beijing News reported.

"The demolition team neglected (to remove the two men) and continued to drive the bulldozer into the house to dismantle it by force. Soon after that, the house was on fire," Tao Qiuyu, Tao Huixi's son, told the paper.

"No one tried to rescue them when they were on fire. Then my father died and his body was left untouched for more than two hours and was only removed after the demolition finished."

It follows a similar case last November, when Tang Fuzhen, from Chengdu in Southwest China's Sichuan province, shocked the nation by setting herself alight to protest the forced demolition of her former husband's garment processing business and house.

Tang died from her injuries 16 days later at a local hospital and the building she attempted to save was torn down.

In the most recent case, media reports said Tao, a local farmer, paid 200,000 yuan ($29,000) in 1995 to build a pig farm on the 1,333-square-meter property.

In March 2009, the county government told Tao that his pig farm and four neighboring properties were in the path of State Highway No. 310, which was under construction, and needed to be demolished.

Tao asked for compensation of between 500,000 and 1,000,000 yuan, but reports said the property assessment by the local government determined that Tao's pig farm was worth 75,000 yuan.

After repeated negotiations failed, the government decided to forcibly dismantle Tao's pig farm on Saturday.

Tao Qiuyu told reporters on Saturday night that he did not know the location of his father's body because it was not being held at the funeral home. He said his grandfather suffered severe burns to half his body and was being treated at a local hospital.

A statement released by the county government on Sunday said all other neighboring houses were demolished before the Spring Festival in February.

Due to Tao's house, the construction of the highway was suspended for several months.

"The government has sent an investigation group and assigned people to take care of the medical treatment of the injured man," the statement said.

The county government was not available for comment on Sunday.

Jiang Mingan, a law professor at Peking University said constructing the highway is in the public's interest, so forced demolition is legal.

"Such frequent (self-immolation) incidents show a need to draft a new law to replace the current regulation and offer homeowners more channels and rights to appeal," Jiang said.

The State Council Legislative Affairs Office is drafting a new urban housing demolition regulation, which stipulates that forced demolitions are to be strictly supervised to better protect the rights of property owners.

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