The three-month notice period given to residents in three Wang Chau villages to vacate their homes will expire at the end of Wednesday. Villagers have promised to defend their homes in anticipation of a government requisitioning operation on Thursday.

Located in Yuen Long, the villages have been at the centre of a political controversy over the past year. With the support of the pro-Beijing camp, the Legislative Council passed a motion in March to fund the development of public housing at the site.

Wang Chau
Entrance to Wang Chau villages. File photo: HKFP/Elson Tong.

Then on May 2, the Lands Department sent officials into the village to put up eviction notices. The notices included a three-month deadline.

Back in 2012, the Hong Kong government had planned to develop the housing blocks on a nearby storage yard owned by a rural strongman, but modified its plan to instead demolish the three villages after closed-door soft lobbying.

Pro-democracy lawmaker Eddie Chu directed public attention to the controversy during his successful election campaign last September. He has since been advocating what he called a “three-way win” proposal which he hoped would benefit the rural landowners and villagers, as well as satisfy the need for housing in Hong Kong.

See also: The defence of Wang Chau: Barricades are up, but villagers still hope for talks

The Wang Chau Green Belt Development Concern Group announced on Monday that villagers would begin to defend their homes.

“I don’t know what specific plans the government has for us,” villager Patrick told HKFP. “But I believe that officials will repeatedly enter the villages to harass residents beginning on August 3.”

Wang Chau
A path inside the Wang Chau villages. Photo: Elson Tong/HKFP.

“We are faced with an unreasonable eviction and the destruction of our homes,” wrote the concern group in a press release. “Villagers have asked for help from various government departments, but have been plunged into despair.”

“We need a large number of people to help defend the village, and take action to oppose the government’s unjust development.”

Last month, residents hosted a music and culture festival to celebrate what may be the last time they harvest indigenous jackfruit from the trees in their village.

The concern group will host a press conference to explain its plans on Thursday morning.

Elson Tong

Elson Tong

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.