Mountain forest ownership violation affects hundreds of ethnic minority Christians of Yunnan Province; Christian lawyers and pastors offer help

Monday, March 5, 2012

China Aid Association, March. 05, 2012

Introduction to the case on Kexi Resident Group, Bingman Village, Mengnong Town, Mojiang Hani Autonomous County, Pu’er, Yunnan Province

Kexi Villiage Resident Group is governed by the Villagers’ Committee of Bingman Village, Mengnong Town, Mojiang Hani Autonomous County. The village has a concentrated population of Lahu ethnic minority who are backwards in both economic and cultural development. To this day, residents of this village still don’t have access to electricity and running water.

On Nov. 19, 1982, Mojiang Hani Autonomous County government issued the Kexi Resident Group the“Certificate for the Ownership of Mountain forest”, number 2177, which covers the 9199 mu(about 1515.4 acres) mountain forest around Kexi Village. The boundaries of ownership are defined as: east to Yuan-shui-Jiu-jia-hou-shan-liang-zi, south to Wa-lue-luo-jian-bao-shun road ending at Kexi-Xiaojing, west to Guma River, and north to Xin-ping-ge. For 25 years after the certificate was issued, Kexi Resident Group has been managing the mountain forest issued to them.

In early 2007, the villagers found that the County Timber Company stepped over the defined boundary to operate. On April 17, 2007, the villagers appealed to the Mengnong Township Government demanding the County Timber Company to stop infringing upon their territory. But Li Wenhui and some other people from the Forestry Reform Task Group said, “The 4,000 mu (about 659 acres) forest defined by the ‘Certificate of ownership’, number 2177, which reaches westward to Guma River, is overlapping with the boundaries of state-owned forest defined and verified in 1992.” In other words, the 4,000 mu forest in the west side, corporately owned by Kexi Resident Group and certified in 1982, has mysteriously become state-owned in 1992. What was more baffling is that, before April 17, 2007, no one from Kexi Village Group had received any form of notification about the change of ownership.

Since then, the villagers had appealed many times to the Township Government and the County Forestry Bureau, but got no results. On July 2, 2007, the villagers applied to the county government to verify the boundaries of mountain forest owned corporately by Kexi Resident Group. In late August, 2008, the county government conducted an investigation about the boundaries, but did not give any response regarding the important issues concerned with the personal interest of Kexi villagers. In June, 2010, the villagers appealed to the Standing Committee of the County People’s Congress, demanding the legal supervision and correction of the county government’s illegal administrative behavior, and did not receive any reply in written form. On Feb. 27, 2012, the lawyer Liu Peifu from Beijing Gongxin Law Firm and Pastor Zhang (Bike) Mingxuan from Henan province arrived at Yunnan to offer legal aids to this group of ethnic minority Christians.

ChinaAid will follow up on the case and provide updates on its development.

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