Chinese authorities have waged war on traditional end-of-life practices under a new “zero burial” policy in one of its provinces, local media reports.
According to several news outlets, coffins have been destroyed while one body has even been exhumed as authorities take drastic action to preserve land resources and take up more “eco-friendly” practices.
Shocking footage shared on social media shows piles of broken coffins stacked up as The Jiangxi Provincial Government attempts to move to a cremation-only policy. State media has since branded the action “barbaric”.
While many families have surrendered coffins they’ve bought previously, other poorer households have reportedly been forced to watch theirs destroyed despite some people saving for years to pay for them.
The policy was first introduced six months ago, but in an effort to move things along, authorities reportedly smashed thousands of coffins this week.
According to Chinese news outlet the Global Times, the Gao’an government will offer 2,000 yuan (AU$397) in compensation for every coffin surrendered. However, the site claims that most locals spent over 3,000 yuan on the wooden boxes.
Hundreds of coffins were gathered in a parking lot in East China’s Jiangxi Province. Starting at the end of June, villagers in the province turned over 5,000 coffins in a controversial campaign to dissuade locals from traditional burials and promote cremation. pic.twitter.com/G0V3YyLoT6
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) July 30, 2018
Meanwhile, The South China Morning Post reports some villagers were filmed lying in coffins in protest, before being forcibly removed as the coffins were stacked up outside and destroyed.
A 29 year-old man in Jian village, who didn’t wish to be named, told the site his own grandparents’ treasured boxes had been taken.
“These coffins had been stored in ancestral halls and had been with my grandparents for more than 30 years, as they were made by carpenters using wood grown from our own land,” he reportedly said.
Owning or making a coffin has been banned ever since the policy was introduced. However, it’s claimed many families bought the boxes years ago and designed them themselves, believing they will bring longevity and good fortune.
“Not only are they confiscating coffins, but they’re also banning local burial traditions. No coffins, tombstones or paper money are allowed,” the man added.
Read more: The eco coffins that have everyone talking
In possibly the worst case, the Yiyang county government reportedly confirmed in April it had exhumed a body that had been buried against the rules of the cremation-only policy.
The People’s Daily, the Chinese Communist Party’s official mouthpiece, has since criticised the drastic action being taken to enforce the policy.
“Is there any reason to take rough and even barbaric means?” the newspaper reportedly said.
Jiangxi’s Civil Affairs Department later said in a statement: “In the process of promoting the reform of funeral and interment in our province, some counties and villages have adopted drastic measures … they have caused adverse effects and hurt some people’s feelings.”