18 Vietnamese Policemen Freed, 20 Others Still in Hostage in Hanoi Land Dispute

by Defend the Defenders, April 18, 2017

As many as 20 policemen and cadres are still kept in hostage by residents of Mieu Mon village, Dong Tam commune, My Duc district in a land dispute case in Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi, according to state media.

In the evening of April 17, the farmers released 15 mobile policemen and three others self-freed from the villagers who insist to protect their 47-hectare agricultural land parcel which the district authorities plan to give to the military-run Viettel Group, the biggest telecom provider in the Southeast Asian nation.

Authorities said some cadres were injured while the villagers said one of them was severely beaten and is still treated in a local hospital.

The authorities are still deploying large numbers of mobile policemen, militia and thugs to block the village, demanding the local residents to release all policemen, district, communal and village cadres.

Some activists said the local authorities demanded stopping electricity and water supply for the village. The village was isolated from outside as the Internet and telecommunication were interrupted although authorities rejected that they intervened.

Police also temporarily released all villagers who were detained on April 15 without warrants.

Authorities said the villagers destroyed five vehicles of the police forces, including an ambulance.

The hostage of policemen and cadres is severe violation and must be punished, said Major General Bach Thanh Dinh, head of the Hanoi Police Investigation Agency.

The dispute over the land parcel started three years ago. The Hanoi authorities said the land belongs to the army while villagers said it is their agricultural land.

Mieu Mon villagers have petitioned to demand for returning their land or pay adequate compensation. Eight local cadres members of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam have been disciplined for wrongdoings in the case.

The villagers have started fierce opposition to land seizure in February when Viettel started construction work in the area.

In Vietnam, all land belongs to the state and authorities can take land from local residents at cheap prices and later sell to property and industrial developers at much higher prices.