Local officials say the demolition was part of an effort to make room for an energy company’s operations.
By Shöhret Hoshur for RFA Uyghur
December 15, 2023
Screenshots from a video posted online apparently show the remains of a family’s home in Ghulja County in China’s Xinjiang region after it was destroyed to accommodate an energy company’s operations.
A Uyghur man in Ghulja County in Xinjiang, in far western China, posted a video online depicting what he said was the destruction of his family’s home to make room for a local energy company’s operations.
The demolition is apparently the end of a four-year dispute over property rights in the region between local residents and China QingHua Energy Company, which operates both an electric power plant and a coal mine in the area.
But it comes at a particularly difficult time for the displaced family, with nighttime lows dropping below freezing in Ghulja, which is near the Kazakhstan border in western Xinjiang.
“Look at the TVs and blankets they threw outside,” the man says in the video, which was posted on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, last month. “While we are not at home, they have demolished the homes.”
Local officials contacted by RFA Uyghur confirmed that families in the area have been relocated to make room for the energy company’s operations, including the development of its mine.
A security official said more than 5,000 family homes in Qarayaghach village were destroyed in 2018 and the families offered resettlement in Chipar Térek in Qash village.
But families have resisted the relocation, saying the village is too remote, lacks basic amenities and isn’t conducive to farming.
One security official identified the man in the video as Jélil Ömer, a sheepherder.
The minute-long video pans to the right to show a number of structures that had been leveled as a dog barks in the background. It then tracks to show household items like TVs littered on the ground.
RFA was unable to verify the authenticity of the video. A person who answered a call to QingHua Energy declined to comment.
Another local official in nearby Chuluqay Township said residents there have also been displaced in property acquisitions by the company. Newlywed couples used to be granted small parcels of property to build homes, but that practice stopped because there isn’t enough land left, one local official said.
“For the past two years, they have been saying there is no land and are not distributing it anymore,” the official said.
Some couples have built houses on the outskirts of town, but local authorities tore them down, increasing the number of homeless in Ghulja.
Edited by Jim Snyder and Malcolm Foster.