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Homeless Petitioner Brings Unlawful Eviction to German Chancellor’s Attention

August 24, 2007

Shanghai resident Chen Enjuan has asked Human Rights in China (HRIC) to transmit an open letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel appealing for assistance after the seizure of Chen’s home by Shanghai Krupp Stainless Co. Ltd., a Sino-German joint venture. Chancellor Merkel will visit China this month, starting on August 26. (A translation of the letter is appended to this press release.)

Chen was the owner of No. 43, Shenjiazhai, Yaohua Road South, in Shanghai’s Pudong New District. Chen and her family were forcibly evicted from their home in 2000 so it could be demolished for a project by Shanghai Krupp, a joint venture between Shanghai Pudong Iron Steel (Group) Co. Ltd. and Germany’s Thyssen Krupp Stainless Co. Ltd. Chen said Shanghai Krupp engaged Daqiao Groups Demolition and Eviction Co. to unlawfully evict her family and demolish their home before any agreement was reached on compensation and relocation, and the family has remained homeless since.

HRIC urges the Shanghai authorities to demonstrate clear commitment to the spirit of this law in protecting the property rights of Chen Enjuan and other residents, as well as acknowledging citizens’ legal right to petition the government without intimidation and harassment.

Chen said her family subsequently filed a lawsuit against Daqiao Groups demanding that her home be restored to its original condition. On January 20, 2001, the Pudong New District Court of the Shanghai Municipality delivered its decision: "Since the plaintiff’s home was located within the eviction area of the SKS construction project, and construction is currently ongoing at that site, it is no longer possible to restore the plaintiff’s home to its original state." However, the court also ruled, "Given that (the defendant) had not signed any resettlement agreement with the plaintiff and that (the defendant) had not undergone lawful channels but instead had forcibly demolished the plaintiff’s apartment; (the defendant) has obviously violated the lawful interests of the plaintiff. (The defendant) should bear responsibility accordingly." In her letter to the German chancellor, Chen states that because the verdict offered no substantive solution to her situation it was meaningless to her family. She subsequently wrote a letter to TKS, but has received no response.

Chen Enjuan has been legally petitioning Beijing for redress since 2001, as a result of which she has been detained numerous times, and was ordered serve a one year and nine months sentence of reeducation through labor (RTL) in December 2003. On July 2, 2006, Chen was placed under "residential surveillance."

Chen Enjuan believes that German companies should avoid violating individuals’ rights while investing in China, and says she is taking the opportunity of the German chancellor’s visit to China to make her aware of the effects of German companies’ investments on the rights of Chinese citizens. She hopes Chancellor Merkel will take a stand on these issues.

The intense redevelopment of Shanghai and other major Chinese cities has led to numerous violations of the rights of residents such as Chen Enjuan and her family. Chen Enjuan is one of a group of displaced Shanghai residents that HRIC has highlighted in recent years. The new PRC Property Law that comes into effect in October 2007 reflects the government’s efforts to increase protections for Chinese citizens. HRIC urges the Shanghai authorities to demonstrate clear commitment to the spirit of this law in protecting the property rights of Chen Enjuan and other residents, as well as acknowledging citizens’ legal right to petition the government without intimidation and harassment. HRIC further appeals to the Shanghai authorities to intervene in cases where private companies violate the rights of citizens. HRIC also would like to draw Chancellor Merkel’s attention to Chen’s case and calls on her to raise it with relevant Shanghai authorities during her visit.


An open letter of appeal to German Chancellor Merkel from Shanghai petitioner Chen Enjuan

Dear Honorable German Chancellor Merkel,

My name is Chen Enjuan and I am an evicted petitioner from Shanghai, China. I was the owner of a residence located at No. 43, Shenjiazhai, Yao Hua Road South, Pudong New District, Shanghai, which is now the location of a project of the Shanghai Krupp Stainless Co. Ltd. (abbreviated as SKS), a joint-venture formed by the German Thyssen Krupp Stainless Co. Ltd. (TKS) and the Shanghai Pudong Iron Steel (Group) Co. Ltd.

I wish to inform your Excellency with anger and sadness that on January 23, 2000, the Daqiao Groups, a demolition and eviction company engaged by SKS, applied devious methods to evict my family. They forcibly removed us from our home, then demolished it and destroyed its contents. There was no compensation and resettlement agreement when the eviction took place, and the demolition had not gone though any administrative or judicial procedures. The evictors told us that the eviction was carried out to ensure that the project for SKS could start on time. It is therefore due to SKS’s interests that my family became homeless and miserable.

After the incident, in order to defend my lawful interests, I initiated a lawsuit against the Daqiao Company and demanded that it restore my home. As a result of the serious corruption in China’s judicial system, the verdict of the court was extremely unfair. Twelve months after I launched the lawsuit, the Shanghai Pudong New District Court delivered the following verdict: "Given that (the defendant) had not signed any resettlement agreement with the plaintiff and that (the defendant) had not undergone lawful channels but instead had forcibly demolished the plaintiff’s home; (the defendant) has obviously violated the lawful interests of the plaintiff. (The defendant) should bear responsibility accordingly." The verdict stated at the same time: "Since the plaintiff’s home was located within the eviction area of the SKS construction project, and construction is currently ongoing at that site, it is no longer possible to restore the plaintiff’s home to its original state."

This verdict did not offer any substantive resolution and was therefore meaningless to my family, so I appealed to the Intermediate Court and Higher Court in Shanghai, but the appeals were rejected. Our family remains deprived of our property rights by the eviction company SKS employed. This has caused grave financial and mental loss and harm to my family. According to Chinese law, SKS should also bear corresponding civil obligations. Therefore, in August 2002, I wrote a letter to the chairman of TKS, Mr. Middelmann, to seek his sympathy and help. I urged TKS to take the reputation of its headquarters and joint-venture seriously, to take human rights seriously, and urge its subsidiary company SKS to compensate my loss and injury. However, the response I received was ruthless. SKS’s staff visited me several times, saying the company would not investigate the truth of the incident or meet and discuss the matter with me.

In order to pursue justice, I had no choice but to begin petitioning Beijing in 2001. My goals is to tell the central leaders, the National People's Congress and relevant ministries and commissions the truth and facts of a case in which a citizen was deprived of her lawful property and her human rights infringed during the eviction process, and to seek assistance in solving practical problems, such as the loss of a permanent home and loss of income.

During my petitions to defend my rights, I have often suffered from illegal monitoring, house arrest and detention by the police. On November 3, 2003, I was placed under "criminal detention" on trumped-up charges and sent to "reeducation-through-labor" facilities for one year and nine months for the "offense" of petitioning for justice. During the three years since, I have not regained my home, and have encountered even more brutal personal persecution. I suffered from torturous treatment such as solitary confinement and forced labor in the reeducation-through-labor camp, which caused serious injury to my physical and mental health.

Your Excellency, the reason for all my sufferings is the failure of the TKS Corporation from your country to acknowledge the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens while expanding its investment in China. Recently international media have reported that German enterprises use bribery to promote their business in China. The Siemens Corporation alone has dismissed more than 20 staff for "inappropriate business behavior" since last year, indicating that China’s culture of corruption has already entered German enterprises in China.

In my case of unlawful eviction, Germany’s TKS Corporation must bear responsibility. Your Excellency, as Chancellor of the state of origin of the TKS Corporation, I hope you will take due notice of this kind of incident. German enterprises should not violate the rights and interests of other people to achieve their goals while investing in China; doing so will harm Germany’s international image and reputation.

Your Excellency, the right to housing is the most basic human right advocated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Now my family has been deprived of the right to residence for more than seven years, and remains homeless. Due to my petitioning activities to defend our rights, my daughter was compelled to discontinue her studies, and my whole family lives in destitution. On the other hand, the SKS Corporation's project enjoyed a smooth start and has proceeded successfully under the witness of your predecessor and China’s Premier. All this success was achieved by depriving a Chinese family of their property. I wonder if the TKS Corporation and SKS Corporation feel any shame about this?

Your Excellency, Germany is a country that upholds democracy and respects human rights. This was demonstrated when the German Lawyers’ Association’s issued its "human rights award" to Shanghai lawyer Zheng Enchong on December 9, 2005. Moreover, your Excellency held meetings with China’s human rights defenders and discussed human rights problems with China’s leaders during your visit in China last year. All this is sufficient to show that your Excellency and the German Government are very concerned about and respectful of human rights. Therefore, I have mustered the courage to write this letter to your Excellency, and I hope your Excellency will urge SKS, the subsidiary of the German company TKS, to respect the lawful property rights of Chinese citizens, and to compensate us in a timely manner for the home that was demolished for the joint venture development project.

Your Excellency, I hope at last to improving my family’s fate and live happily with your concern and help.

Thank you!
I wish joy to your Excellency’s entire family!

Chen Enjuan, Evicted Petitioner from Shanghai, China
August 23, 2007

Contact: Room 203, No. 14, Jiangnan No. 1 Village, Xuhui District,
Shanghai Municipal Postal Code: 200032
Telephone: 021-64036057
Mobile: 13162598090