Police Attack Vietnamese Reporters

Vietnamese media say two state radio reporters were assaulted by police while watching a land eviction.
2012-05-08
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Villagers confront security personnel who came to seize their land in Van Giang district in the outskirts of Vietnam's capital Hanoi, April 24, 2012.
Photo courtesy of a citizen journalist.

Two Vietnamese state radio reporters were assaulted by police as the authorities suppressed a mass protest by villagers over a land grab in the outskirts of the capital Hanoi last month, according to local media reports.

The Thanh Nien newspaper on Tuesday identified the duo as Radio Voice of Vietnam's chief of political and economic news Nguyen Ngoc Nam and staff reporter Han Phi Long. They were attacked while watching the eviction of the villagers from their land, it said.

The police attack on the two was believed to have been captured on a video posted on YouTube showing police and guards beating and kicking two helmeted men in the April 24 incident in which security forces also fired warning gunshots and tear gas.

In one of the biggest land confrontations in Vietnam, about 2,000 villagers hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails as an equally large number of security forces moved to seize their land in the district of Van Giang.

Several people were injured and 20 others were arrested as the villagers tried to prevent security forces from forcibly occupying 70 hectares (173 acres) of land for a satellite city development project.

Nam was handcuffed and taken to a district prosecutor's office while Long went to local police to report the beating, the Associated Press quoted the local newspaper as saying.

The two reporters and the national radio station have asked the provincial government for an explanation, but it has yet to respond, Thanh Nien said.

Denial

When the videos began to emerge on the day of the incident, Vietnamese authorities denied that police were involved in any such attacks. They said the videos were fabricated by anti-government forces.

Radio Voice of Vietnam also did not issue any statement about their staff being attacked.    

A lawyer who was a former senior official of the HCMC Fatherland Front, a pro-government group, said the video clips were authentic.

"I can see that the clips are truly authentic [as it reflected what the press said] that there were thousands of security forces, even those from the [Police] Ministry being mobilized in order to suppress the [village] folks and to enable the land [to be given] to investment bosses," he told RFA.

"How can they deny it? They are brazen-faced for saying so. They had better confess it," he said.

A peasant from Van Giang district called for accountability for what he called high-handed actions by the authorities in suppressing the mass protests.

"In reality, the whole world knows how they did the coercion. They [do not want to admit their] wrongdoing," he told RFA.

All land in Vietnam belongs to the state, and people only have the right to use it. Land expropriation has been linked to several high-profile incidents of unrest in recent years.
 
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in February called for a revamp to the country’s land management policies and vowed to punish corrupt local officials for their role in a high-profile land eviction case in Hai Phong city.

Reported by RFA's Vietnamese service. Translated by Viet Long. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.