Land Grabbing in Hanoi Outskirts Results in Violence

Mieu Mon villagers keep in custody dozens of mobile policemen on April 15

by Defend the Defenders, April 16, 2017

Land grabbing in My Duc district, Hanoi, has resulted in a violent clash between farmers and local authorities, with the arrests of numerous farmers by security forces and the detention of dozens of policemen by angry residents.

The incident stems from disputes over an agricultural land area of 47 hectares in Mieu Mon village that the city’s government wants to seize from local farmers and give to the military-run Viettel Group, the biggest mobile phone operator in the country, without providing compensation for the farmers.

According to citizen journalists, in the morning of April 15, authorities in Hanoi tricked farmers in Dong Tam commune by calling them to the area and later arresting 15 of them, among those who resist the land seizure. The arrests were made without warrants.

In response, Dong Tam farmers held in custody two plainclothes police officers, one of whom is a deputy chief of the My Tam district police.

In the afternoon of the same day, the city’s authorities sent numerous police officers, mobile policemen and militia to block the village. Villagers detained another 20 mobile policemen, kept them in a closed room and declared that they will burn them with petrol if the authorities attack the village.

So far, one young man of the village has been beaten with severe injuries. The victim is under special treatment in the district’s general hospital. Another man of the village was reported to have died under unclear circumstances.

Hanoi’s authorities refuse to negotiate with the villagers and continue to send large numbers of mobile police and thugs to block the village, banning people from going in and out of the area.

The city also demanded to cut electricity during the night of April 15, as well as the Internet and wireless phone networks in the area, keeping the village isolated. Local residents cannot contact people outside.

Activists nationwide have called on the city’s authorities to withdraw all forces and release the detained farmers, and they encouraged Mieu Mon villagers to release the policemen they are keeping in custody. The two sides need to settle the dispute peacefully, they said.

Hanoi should abandon its plan to take the land parcel without paying compensation, they noted.

It is worth noting that in Communist Vietnam, all land belongs to the state and local residents only have a right to use it. This has permitted local authorities to seize land for socio-economic development projects.

In many places, local authorities have seized land from residents to make way for property development and industrial projects. In most cases, they have paid low compensation and have later made the land available to developers at prices many folds higher.

Thousands of Vietnamese residents across the country have become land petitioners gathering in Hanoi and other big cities to seek justice and demand adequate compensation for their grabbed land.

Vietnam’s authorities, instead of finding ways to meet land petitioners’ requests, treat them as second-class citizens. Many of them have been beaten and imprisoned on allegations of causing public disorder under Article 245 of the Penal Code.