Protesters continued to occupy a community farm in Fanling on Thursday as Henderson Land suspended its efforts to take over the farmland for another day. Around 70 security guards were deployed by the developer in the morning as welders moved into the area.

Henderson previously acquired the land in Ma Shi Po but the remaining villagers refused to move out as they wished to continue farming there. Since 2007, the developer has been refusing their rent payments.

Henderson had delayed its takeover plans after villagers and protesters occupied an excavator on Tuesday. On Thursday, villagers unsuccessfully attempted to block security guards as they moved in, leading to clashes after the guards managed to enter the farmland.

Protesters having a meeting at Ma Shi Po.
Protesters having a meeting. Photo: Chantal Yuen, HKFP.

“Welders were trying to start work, and I saw that the situation was quite dangerous… the welders were working very close to the protesters. And you know that during welding, there is debris and it will burn if it hits you. But the welders were not very polite [about it],” Farmer Lo, one of Ma Shi Po village’s residents, told HKFP.

One of the welders was seen pointing a welding gun towards a protester, aiming it at his face and feet.

“Today when the workers came in and started up [the excavator] I was shocked, but I was more afraid that my friends would be hurt,” said Yip Wing-lam, member of the Land Justice League and a student who lives in a nearby village.

The crane was operated while people were still sitting on top of the excavator.

While most security guards and welders left the premises at around 10:30am, several stayed back to monitor the situation.

Security guard looks over land
Security guard looks over land. Photo: Chantal Yuen, HKFP.

A ‘different Hong Kong’

Villages and protesters said that they were protecting the land to preserve their way of living in the city.

YouTube video

“I think there are more people who are talking about overdevelopment and – from different levels of thinking – it is not a healthy thing for society. Also, why can’t Hongkongers choose to keep this land or this kind of way of living?… Is it okay that those with money and power can decide the path of development in this city? ” asked Lam Kit-yan, who is self-employed and is involved in educating Hongkongers about farmlands in Hong Kong.

Ma Shi Po
Ma Shi Po. Photo: Chantal Yuen, HKFP.

Henderson have told protesters that they are looking to file an injunction on the land. However, the Mapopo Community Farm said in a post on Facebook that Henderson “does not have the justification to apply for an injunction because… there [has been] no bailiff entering the land to verify that it has been emptied.” They added that they had sent a letter to the court, but had not received a clear reply.

It is unclear how long the occupation will last or whether further action will be taken.

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.