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发布日期:2005-12-19 13:39:55
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Statement of Facts –Present Challenges facing the Jisha Villagers

Yunnan Province –West China

 

 

Background

 

  1. In its rush to modernize and seek to keep pace with international trade pressures there has been a catchword for several years now that western China is in greatest need for development and so the phrase “Develop the West” has become prominent and caught the attention and hearts of many patriotic Chinese, particularly young people.
  2. Unfortunately under the cover of such a slogan, the Develop the West campaign has created an open license for exploitation by unscrupulous businessmen seeking enormous profits from activities such as tourism, to take over the leases of traditional land owners for development purposes. Ethnic minority groups, such as Tibetans, as this case history reveals, are particularly vulnerable.
  3. For this reason it is suggested that what is happening in the villages of Upper and Lower Jisha (now divided by a new modern high-speed highway), is a horrific test example as to how:

·        corrupt government officials in high places, such as provincial capitals (in this instance Kunming)

·        use their official power to deprive traditional land owners of their hereditary collective lands through bribery and deceit in pursuit of their own selfish profits.

 

  1. The aim of these particular developers, The Zhongdian Qianhushan Ecotourism Development Co Ltd. (中甸千湖山生态旅游开发有限公司) (“Development Company”) is to ostensibly develop a grandiose tourist scheme for the district, which if successful would deprive the traditional Tibetan landowners of their way of life and livelihood.

 

·        The main vehicle for the promoters of this project to carry out this intention was a fraudulent document allegedly signed at a properly constituted village meeting.

·        This document is appended to this Statement of Facts (as Document C, see below) and is dated the 24th of August 2004.

·        This document came into being through the activities of patently corrupt local government officials.  These officials called the meeting with just a few hours notice during a time when most of the village men were absent, forcing the women to serve as the legal household representatives of the village families.  Furthermore, the officials conducted the meeting in Mandarin Chinese, which most of the village women do not understand well.  The result was that the women did not comprehend the content of the document they were supposedly approving and the activities they were witnessing. In carrying out these highly illegal actions, the government officials improperly used their official powers to act more as agents of the Development Company than as public officials, who are relied upon to be ethical and fair in their dealings.  

  1. Thus the very act of the local official demanding that the women put their thumbprints to such a deliberately deceptive document is totally unconscionable, and it is suggested the official should be made a public example of as to what damage to local communities a ‘rogue’ public servant can be.
  2. It is for this reason that it is believed the only appropriate course of action open to the Tibetan villagers is to appeal to the Chinese Central Government to end such corrupt practices.  The reason for such a direct appeal to the Central Government is that it is believed the level of corruption in certain parts of the Kunming administration runs deep and that those implicated in this unconscionable act could indeed escape the law by improperly influencing any normal court action considered on this matter by the local courts.
  3. It is considered the most appropriate person to handle this matter within China’s Central Administration, should be the Auditor-General Li Jinhua (refer article attached Beijing Review Vol. 47 no 28 July 004 pp18-25).
  4. It is strongly recommended, therefore, that

·        this case history relating to Jisha be brought to his notice at the earliest opportunity.

·        Further it is strongly suggested here that Jisha is just one prominent example of widespread corruption in the West at present, and that therefore the Central Government might wish to consider the establishment of a Western Provinces Development Investigation Commission

·        the function of that commission might be first to consider what has happened at Jisha and then progress from there to seek out any other blatant transgressions, which illegally infringe on the traditional land practice activities and livelihood of relatively defenseless ethnic minority groups in this undeveloped region of China.

  1. At this time of compilation, there has been very constructive input to this particularly unfortunate case of deceit, corruption and falsification of community records, by a team of individuals led by Mr. Li Bo, a concerned environmentalist, minor officials, university professors, and environmental law clinics.

 

Jisha Profile

  1. The two villages of Upper Jisha (上吉沙村) and Lower Jisha (下吉沙村) are located some 45 minutes drive on a new highway from Zhongdian, Shangri-la County, Yunnan Province, in southwest China, with the two villages now divided by this highway.  Through heritage, the villages are the custodians of traditional community lands which encompass the 1000 Lakes district (Qianhushan (千湖山)).   
  2. The villages are located at an altitude of 3,500 meters at the feet of the Qianhushan Mountain, which is full of ecologically significant dense wet lands, primitive forest, alpine pasture, and a divine hill worshipped by Buddhists for countless generations. Moreover, some of the wet lands are considered to be too sacred to be open to normal public usage
  3. Regrettably in recent decades, the prime forests of Jisha were heavy logged without proper planning and control by a then state-owned forestry enterprise and Northeast Tree farm.  This massive deforestation brought little or no return to the local villagers in the area, who were forced afterwards to bear the consequences of such activity, such as erosion and crop damage.
  4. Fortunately, in more recent time, the State government stepped in, and finally prohibited further deforestation along upriver of some main rivers. Due to the circumstances then prevailing, it is not possible to now fully assess the ecological losses which resulted from that devastating period.
  5. After the departure of the state-owned logging enterprise and the crash reforestation programs, a Kunming company known as The Zhongdian Qianhushan Ecotourism Development Co. Ltd. (“Development Company”), then signed with the local town government (“Little Zhongdian Township Governmenta secret agreement that has only recently come to light. This secret agreement is clearly contrary to the clear edicts laid down by the Central Government as to the duties of public officials to administer their powers fairly in the best interests of the local communities, and without bias or corruption.
  6. This illegal secret agreement signed in 1998 (copy attached and marked with the letter A) had as its main purpose the intent ( in return for corrupt officials being paid 100,000 RMB per annum) that such officials would in effect act as undercover agents for the Kunming-based high speculation development company.  The officials would thus use their authority to ‘persuade’ the Tibetan villagers to part with their hereditary lands for what amounted to a minimum payment, and thereby destroy the villagers’ way of life and deprive them of their collective lands upon which they have subsisted on for hundreds of years. 
  7. Outwardly, the effect of the signing of this secret agreement in 1998 by local Little Zhongdian Township government officials (and the Development Company) had no immediate impact on the Jisha villagers.
  8. It is believed the reason for such delayed action, is evidenced by other discovered secret documents recently to hand (copy attached and marked with the letter B) of the Kunming Development Company’s plan for a very major and grandiose, high cost tourist development plan on the collective land of the villagers once the land came under their control. (The development plan would include a high status hotel by the pristine highland lakes, complete with helicopter landing pad, hot-air balloons, and cable cars, etc).
  9. Clearly, such a grandiose plan needed high capital investment to realize its development, and it is believed the delay in pressing the villagers to give up control of their land was mainly because the Kunming Development Company had not been forthcoming in its initial payments to the Little Zhongdian Township Officials (as per the terms of the secret agreement), and secondly because it took time to assemble offshore and local investors, who might be interested in financing the project.
  10. However, it appears by August of 2002 the financial wherewithal had been assembled and the first attempt to coerce the villagers into ceding control of their hereditary collective lands to the money-crazed speculators was attempted.
  11. At the first such meeting held on the 31st August 2002 (refer document attached marked with the letter B) company officials were present by names of Liu Shengqiang (刘盛强), Wang Jun (汪军).         
  12. This meeting had been called at short notice that same morning by Little Zhongdian Town Officials and very strangely no development plan shown to the Tibetan villagers at that meeting (or specific terms for any agreement). In addition, the meeting was called at a time when the village males were absent from home because they were then engaged in livestock tending and forestry work in the mountains. Furthermore, the meeting was also conducted largely in Mandarin, which the women, who were standing in for their menfolk, could not fully understand.  Report by Ms. Qi Mei (七妹)Upper Jisha Villageinterviewed by A.L. Graeme-Evans and C. Da Rosa on 26th November 2004.
  13. Further, the whole presentation was based on the proposal that such a hand-over of general use of the collective lands to the Development Company would be for a trial period of some three years only.  
  14. As it turned out the meeting ended in disarray, in that no one was really interested in the proposal at all.
  15. However, no doubt being urged by agents of the company or perhaps alleged corrupt officials, the headman for the Lower Village suddenly called a secret meeting (having perhaps being offered a bribe at that time that if an agreement was secured, he would get the road construction contracts and other preferential treatment). Those attending the meeting were essentially his own relatives, plus several other persons close to his family included.  Account by Lin An Qi Lin (林安七林), Lower Jisha Village, interviewed by A.L. Graeme-Evans and C. Da Rosa on 26th November 2004.
  16. In all, at that secret meeting convened by the Head Villager of the Lower Village, some 13 attended according to eyewitness Ms. Qi Mei . (Qi Mei interview). It appears from the attached record (Document B) that only 7 of the Lower Village representatives were prepared to sign the agreement terms. Therefore, since the agreement was drafted in such a way that it purported to bind both villages, the agreement is completely illegal, since it was in plain breach of the Organic Law of the Villagers Committees of the People’s Republic of China (1998) both in spirit (no public meeting called) and in kind (to be binding required no less than two thirds of the total households of the village of which for the Upper Village there were 34 residences and for the Lower Village 59 residences.)
  17. To make matters even more unconscionable, in respect to this secret meeting, two of the only seven signatures for the lower village were women, who were told nothing of detail at all about the contents of the agreement, but were simply asked to attach their thumb print to a blank piece of paper. (Qi Mei interview).
  18. Further, where the deceit became even deeper was that again no plan at all was attached, which purported to take over no less than 26 square kilometers (Confirm?) of their traditional lands but also the agreement stated the term of the lease would be forty years not a ‘three year trial period’, as was publicly stated at the earlier 31st August 2002 Public Meeting .
  19. This secret agreement sought to transfer lease control to the Kunming Development Company[1], and was to now remain undiscovered by the other villagers until approximately one year later when one villager Mr. Lin An Qi Lin (林安七林), of Lower Jisha Village, was innocently transporting back to the village some wooden poles manufactured from some trees he had felled on their traditional lands to aid in the construction of a village home. Without warning, he was suddenly stopped by forestry police and told he was trespassing, and his wooden poles duly confiscated. (Lin An Qi Lin interview).  
  20. Completely furious at what he believed was some ridiculous mistake, Mr. Lin then approached his village headman for an explanation. It was only then the village headman revealed for the first time the above-mentioned 2002 secret agreement, which the company was now relying upon to obtain its hoped-for financial advantage.  (Lin An Qi Lin interview). 
  21. The headman, in seeking to excuse his actions in front of his fellow villagers (who previously had had complete trust in him) then stated: ‘There is nothing I can do the government has already made the decision to hand over our lease to the investment company to proceed with their tourist development plan (or words of similar effect). (Lin An Qi Lin interview).
  22. With this secret agreement now out in the open, the Little Zhongdian township officials, in league with the development company, obviously became worried at being so exposed.  This was especially so after a lawyer was invited to give an educational talk to the villagers in July 2004 as to their natural rights under China’s existing planning laws.
  23. So, on the 24th of August 2004, township officials, acting completely contrary to their duties and more as simply agents of the Kunming Development Company, purposefully called a sudden meeting of village households during a working day so that virtually all the men were unable to attend.  (Account by Wang Jian Min (王建民), Lower Jisha Village, and La Mu (拉姆), Lower Jisha Village, interviewed 26th November 2004 by Assoc Profs A L Graeme-Evans and C Da Rosa).
  24. As a consequence, over 80% of the meeting attendees were Tibetan women, who largely cannot understand Mandarin, and no interpretation into the Tibetan language took place.  Wang Jian Min and Lu Mu interviews.
  25. In the course of this meeting, the township officials falsely implied that the government had already made the decision to hand over the lease of their traditional lands for tourist development purposes to the Kunming development company and the villagers were told to put their thumbprints on once again blank pieces of paper so that a false report was generated.  Again the villagers received no copy of a development plan describing the Development Company’s proposed development of the villagers’ collective land.  (Wang Jian Min and La Mu interviews).
  26. Further, no actual contract was supplied or handed out at the meeting, so that the Tibetan women might consult with their menfolk later, as confirmed by two villagers (Wang Jian Min and La Mu interviews).  
  27. A copy of this false agreement, completely at odds with all existing government regulations relating to village decision making processes, is attached (refer attachment marked with the letter C). The agreement is fraudulent in the extreme in that it has been designed to deceive the casual reader that over two thirds of the village households, in a charade of compliance with government regulations, had approved the alleged agreement, even though its terms and conditions were never read out in full or at all in the Tibetan language.  The result was that the vast majority of those being forced to attend the meeting had no idea at all what they were approving with their thumbprint and what consequences this action on their part might bring.
  28. Wang Jian Min, a forestry police official and one of the few male villagers able to get to the end part of the meeting, made it clear to all of those there at the smaller meeting after the main meeting, that what the agreement was attempting to do was totally illegal.  (Wang Jian Min interview).
  29. No officials of the Development Company, a signer of the alleged agreement, were observed at the 24th of August meeting.  (Wang Jian Min and La Mu interviews). 
  30. Significantly, this latest attempt at fraud by the Kunming speculation company had also appeared to increase their attempted land grab this time from 26 square kilometers as mentioned in the August 2002 meeting to now 40 square kilometers of land e.g. it was now open to say they were not simply going after their potential tourist development lands but also the villagers increasingly valuable tree forest stocks as well, which due to re-forestation are becoming more and more valuable each year?  {Need to Confirm}
  31. Despite these blatantly false and manipulative actions by the clearly corrupt township officials (at all material times acting not as government officials but rather as officials of the Kunming Development Company), the Development Company has become even more open in its actions over the last three months. The following actions of the company, as listed below, may represent only a partial record of what the Development Company has recently carried out:
    • Commencing road construction, which did not cease until group action of resistance by angry villagers stopped them
    • Erecting a huge sign on collective village land without village approval.
    • The sudden grading of land allegedly for use as a parking lot and then dumping of the waste spoil without public village approval.
    • And most recently, an alleged official of the Development Company trespassed onto collective land on or about the 24th of November 2004 and told one of the villagers, Ji Bu (吉布), of Lower Jisha village, without any authority whatsoever, that she and her family should cease their traditional shepherding and grazing activities of their livestock by the end of the month and that their compensation for their loss of livelihood would be a mere 1000 RMB.  (Account by Ji Bu, interviewed 26th November 2004 by Assoc Profs A L Graeme-Evans and C Da Rosa).
  32. These are the facts or considered assumptions to date, and based on these the Environmental Law Clinic of Sun Yat-sen University are in the process of compiling by means of legal research a listing of what acts and regulations the Kunming speculation company have so far breached to date both criminal and civil.
  33. In the light of the audacity of the combined actions of both minor government officials of the Little Zhongdian Township Government and the company itself, it appears clear that individuals of high influence within the Kunming Provincial government are backing the Development Company’s plans to carry out its tourism project in the Qianhushan district, without adherence to the law and proper procedures. In fact, these individuals are so highly placed they may be in a position to influence official local court outcomes so that obtaining due legal process through the courts does not appear to offer a promising avenue to address the villagers’ rights and interests.   For this reason, executive action from not the state government but rather the Central Government is most appropriate channel by which this most unfortunate set of occurrences can be speedily resolved under the principles of equity and fairness to community minority groups.
  34. The reason for coming to such a conclusion (intervention by the Central Government administration), lies in the singular fact that when the 1998 secret agreement between the little Zhongdian Township Government and the speculative investment company became publicly known, it was speedily quashed and/or covered by the local county government.
  35. This incident serves as a clear indicator that highly-placed corrupt officials within the Kunming Provincial administration are supporting the Kunming Development Company.  These officials are likely to suppress at any cost the semblance of full revelation as to what blatantly illegal activities have been pursued by the Development Company.

 

 

These are the notes as they currently stand, and separate documents as to a petition to be considered by the villagers will be completed shortly, as will a draft letter for consideration to be sent to the Auditor General for China, Mr. Li Jinhua.

 

 

 

Prepared 20 December 2004

ALGE with CDR



[1]Which on subsequent close subsequent examination was revealed to be in itself suspect in that it is alleged it did not meet the normal requirements for incorporation in the first instance and the mere fact it was incorporated, has the hallmark that its secret backers were very highly placed and powerful officials within the Kunming government administration