Beijing police have arrested seven petitioners who drank pesticide in a mass suicide attempt outside the office of the China Youth Daily newspaper in protest over compensation for farmland in Sihong county, Jiangsu province, Xinhua reported Tuesday.
The petitioners were arrested for allegedly “picking quarrels” and “provoking trouble” on July 16, according to the State Bureau of Letters and Calls.
They were protesting over what they said was inadequate compensation offered to them in exchange for their farmland. They were paid between 2,300 yuan (US$373) and 2,500 yuan per square meter, or about 60 percent of the price of a flat in the area, the report said.
The protesters have filed dozens of complaints in person, on paper and online in recent years but their grievances have not been dealt with properly. Instead, in September last year, they were illegally detained by a local government.
The bureau, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development and other departments investigated the complaints after the suicide attempts and found evidence of irregularities by Sihong officials during an urban redevelopment project in 2013.
Fourteen officials, including the executive head of the county government and the Party chiefs of Sihong county and Qingyang township, were punished but all kept their jobs, the report said.
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