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December 5, 2009

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Burn death: city suspends official

AN urban management official in southwestern China has been suspended in an investigation into the death of a woman who set herself on fire to stop her home being demolished.

Zhong Changlin, head of Chengdu City's Jinniu District's bureau of law enforcement for urban management, showed "ineffective leadership and poor judgment," a spokesman for the city said yesterday.

Tang Fuzhen, an entrepreneur, died after she lit petrol she had poured over herself on the top of her building when bulldozers and a demolition crew arrived to demolish her home at around 5am on November 13, the spokesman said.

But it was claimed that 47-year-old victim Tang was "violently resisting" the law with her actions. Eight family members including Tang's husband and son are under detention for disrupting public services.

Tang and her husband, Hu Changming, used Molotov cocktails and rocks to prevent demolition workers from entering their illegal three-story building.

Tang set herself on fire after a three-hour standoff with the demolition crew.

A camera caught the horrific event and a video clip has been shown on Internet forums.

The detained family members were not allowed to visit Tang in hospital before she died, said Tang Fuying, the victim's sister.

Family members blamed the demolition crew for her extreme course of action.

Tang Fuming said the demolition crew shouted "don't fight with the government" even after they saw her sister twice pouring petrol over herself.

"She told me to pick a beautiful picture for her tombstone," one of the victim's relatives said. "Can you imagine a woman so fond of being beautiful would ever kill herself?"

The dispute was over compensation as the district government would only cover the amount Tang's family paid in 1996 when they built the house as it was an unlicensed building.

The family said they would not move unless they were given 8 million yuan (US$1.2 million).

China Central Television reported that the district had known about the illegal building since 1996.


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