Rights to protect home demanded
Justice has finally been done in the case of Zhang Jian, a resident of Benxi, Liaoning province, who killed a man while trying to prevent his house from being demolished by a realty developer.
In May last year, the developer, aiming to raze Zhang's home, allegedly sent a few thugs to break into his home and force his family to leave. Even though he was badly hurt, Zhang stabbed one intruder to death and fled.
But he gave himself up in June this year. Recently, the courts ruled that, although he had used excessive force to defend himself, Zhang be given a probation. This means he probably would not have to go to jail.
Although the verdict may make other people facing forced demolitions to take heart, it cannot guarantee that private properties will be well protected. Zhang was tried only after he had been detained for more than 400 days. That was a huge price to pay.
Why did the court not say Zhang was completely innocent since he was only protecting his own property? I think one of the reasons was that the property rights for houses are vague.
Though individuals are absolute owners of houses, the land on which it is built belongs to the State. Since the land right is not absolute and complete, the right to defend one's house is not fully acknowledged or guaranteed.
To safeguard people's right to their homes and prevent a similar tragedy from recurring, it is necessary to clarify and legalize the absolute right to defend one's home. Once the residents are given absolute rights, even if they do not really use it, it could deter infringement against housing properties.
Wu Yue San Ren
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(China Daily 10/24/2009 page4)