Community & Education Hong Kong Politics & Protest

Tears, arrests as Henderson Land takes back farmland for development

Four people were arrested on Monday as Henderson Land evicted the occupants of a community farm in Fanling. The land will be part of a redevelopment plan in the North Eastern New Territories.

A group of 60 security guards hired by Henderson Land Development fenced off the Mapopo Community Farm located in the Ma Shi Po village with wire on Monday morning. At least four villagers and activists who attempted to stop the action were arrested by police officers who were also present.

Henderson had previously acquired the land but villagers refused to move out as they wished to continue farming there. However, Henderson had not accepted their rent since 2007.

Villagers outside the walled off village.

Villagers outside the walled off village. Photo: Cloud.

The company needed to take back the land before the end of this year, in order to be eligible for a government land exchange programme to redevelop the area into housing. The farmland in Fanling is part of 40,000 square feet of land that Henderson planned to exchange with the government.

See also: HKFP Lens: Developers take action against Ma Shi Po village hold-outs

Henderson had tried to take back the land last month, also by fencing off the farmland, but it did not succeed. This prompted activists to stay in the farmland to resist any further action by Henderson, until Monday.

Villagers and activists were only allowed to recover their personal belongings after the security guards cleared their items out of the fenced off area.

Security guards entering the village.

Security guards entering the village. Photo: InMedia.

Outside the area, Becky Au, who ran the farm, was speaking to the security guards with a microphone on a wooden platform in a tearful voice.

“You do not let us in any more, this piece of land that supported the livelihood of three generations, what are you doing,” Au said. “Why are you doing this to farmers?”

An activist on the platform accused Henderson of harassing the farmers for some 20 years to force them to leave their land.

“Henderson and land developers force Hong Kong people to lose their right to choose their way of life, isn’t this violence?” she said. “Everyone of you has children, what can your next generation choose? Is being employed the only option? How can we eat healthy vegetables in the future?”

One activist being arrested by police.

One activist arrested by police. Photo: InMedia.

Labour Party lawmaker Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung was also present and urged members of the public to come and help the activists. He accused Henderson of “destroying people’s homes” and removing the villagers violently.

Of the four arrested, one was a farmer taken away for criminal damage after he tried to cut down wire fencing. Three others were arrested for obstructing police officers.

Victor Wong Wing-cheung, a property development department manager at Henderson who was at the scene, told RTHK that the procedure to take the land had already been completed by the company last month, but some people had been occupying the land, so the company sent security guards to fence off the land and seek assistance from the police.

Some 20 activists have marched to the Sheung Shui police station in support of the arrested four

Some 20 activists have marched to the Sheung Shui police station in support of the arrested four. Photo: InMedia.

Some 20 activists marched to the Sheung Shui police station in support of the arrested four.

Becky Au urged the public to be concerned over the North Eastern New Territories development plan launched by the government, saying that it was a plan of injustice, reported InMedia.

Tears, arrests as Henderson Land takes back farmland for development