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Lake developers 'tortured locals'

SHOP-OWNERS and residents with property along the Slim West Lake in eastern China's Yangzhou City, Jiangsu Province, have been beaten, tortured and kidnapped in order to force them to relocate to make room for a development project, according to a report in Fangyuan Fazhi, a legal news magazine.

Ge Guiping, a professor at Yangzhou University, was abducted while she was teaching a class and locked up, apparently because her brother owned a shop by the lake and was reluctant to move.

"Students were horrified when I was pulled out of the classroom," Ge told the magazine. "I was locked up somewhere, I have no idea where, and guarded by four women who forced me to face the wall and stopped me from sleeping," she said. "They pulled my hair and poured dirty water on me."

Ge was released 17 hours later after the intervention of Yangzhou University and the education department of Jiang°?su Province, the magazine claimed. But she was told by the relocation office to sign a relocation contract or taxation officials would audit her brother.

Xia Jianyang, the owner of four lake-side shops, was jailed and tortured for eight days before he called his mother and told her to sign a relocation contract, the magazine claimed.

A disabled veteran who owned a shop by the lake tried to sue the developer but was told by a local court to solve the problem on his own.

His shop was demolished on January 23. He said he was only given half the market value in compensation.

A restaurant owner was abducted and beaten on November 12 and forced to sign a contract as well as a letter of gratitude to the developer the next day, the magazine said.

The developer, Yangzhou Slim West Lake Tourism Development Co, which is affiliated to the Slim West Lake Management Board, denied kidnap, coercion and torture. But Chen Kexiang, who is in charge of the project and vice Party secretary of the management board, said the Yangzhou government, which granted them permission to redevelop the area, had not paid them for the project.

Yangzhou government plans to expand the Slim West Lake as part of its efforts to apply for a UNESCO World Heritage listing.


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