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Farmers Fail to Sue Ministry

The First Intermediate People's Court in Beijing announced on Thursday that a group of seven farmers have failed in their attempt to sue the Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR).

The farmers, from Shenyang, the capital city of Liaoning Province, had taken the MLR to court over insufficient compensation rates on land that had been expropriated from them.

Their attorney Lu Guang told a reporter that they did not attend the pronouncement, but that the Beijing court had said the verdict would be sent to Shenyang Intermediate People's Court, which would deliver the judgment on its behalf.

The farmers' troubles began in January 2002 when Liaoning's provincial government filed to expropriate 28.47 hectares of farmland in Xiakanzi Hamlet, Yuhong District for municipal construction.

Their compensation was announced March 12, but much of it was based on a rate lower than standard rates due to the classification of different portions of the land being expropriated.

Seven of the farmers petitioned the MLR for a verdict on the validity of the compensation rates. The MLR replied that it could not make any verdict on behalf of the government. Then, they requested the MLR to review its Comment on the Expropriation of Farmland in Shenyang for Municipal Construction (No.559).

The MLR announced its reconsideration supporting Liaoning Provincial Land and Resources Bureau's position. So the farmers decided to sue them with a request to revoke the No.559 Comment this August.

The MLR said the No.559 Comment was based on national law approved by the State Council. The expropriation of the farmland by Shenyang municipal government got the approval of State Council first and then transferred to the MLR for a reply document. Therefore, the No.559 Comment "quoted a correct source, followed legal procedures and had proper content."

Lu said his clients had prepared psychologically for this result and would certainly appeal to the Higher Court in Beijng, and if that judgment is negative they will petition the State Council.

(Beijing News, translated by Li Shen for China.org.cn, December 10, 2004)

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