The last remaining residents of three villages in Hong Kong’s New Territories were evicted from their homes on Wednesday to make way for a public housing estate after the Lands Department and police sent more than 100 representatives to force them out.

Government staff, subcontracted security guards and police visited the villages in the Wang Chau area in the northwestern New Territories to evict the remaining four households.

Government officials surrounding people remaining in Wang Chau villages on April 28, 2021. Photo: Stand News.

According to local media, electricity and water supply to the houses were cut without warning on Wednesday morning after residents refused to vacate their properties as Lands Department officials gave them ten minutes to leave.

Stand News reported that as the Au Yueng family was negotiating for more time to pack up belongings, other officials cut the wire fence to enter their property.

Eventually, residents were given up to seven more days to return and collect their belongings after moving out on Wednesday.

‘Unjustifiable’ move

Ms. Lam, a member of the Wang Chau Green Belt Development Concern Group, told HKFP that the government’s move was “unjustifiable” since residents had not been given enough time to move out.

She said one of them was only notified on Tuesday that his relocation had been approved after waiting over a year.

Workers cutting the electricity supply of Wang Chau residents on April 28, 2021. Photo: Stand News.

She added that the Au Yeung family only received their compensation on April 7, which did not leave them enough time to resettle in a new location.

“Actually the villagers wanted to have a peaceful negotiation,” said Lam. “But the government, because they want to rush the construction progress, unilaterally sacrificed the rights of the villagers.”

Years-long fight

Wang Chau residents have fought against the authorities since 2015 over what they criticise a “black-box” operation lacking transparency.

The government plans to turn the 5.6-hectare site into a public housing estate with 4,000 homes. But the plan was embroiled in controversy in 2016, after it was revealed that officials had scaled down the project and excluded a nearby brownfield site following private meetings with rural leaders.

Wang Chau villagers evade eviction last July after resisting demolition crew.

The original 34-hectare area – mainly controlled by rural strongmen and currently designated for open storage and car parks – could have yielded at least 13,000 public housing flats.

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Candice Chau

Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.