Police in Vietnam’s Khanh Hoa province on Friday beat demonstrators who had gathered to protest a waste-management plant that local villagers fear is polluting the area, according to sources.
“They sent about 200 policemen from the province to crack down on us,” one of the protesters told RFA’s Vietnamese Service. “We are very upset and wanted to hear some explanation from the factory, but they did not talk to us. Instead, they beat us.”
The protester, who gave her name as Nguyen, told RFA that at least five people from Ninh An village, three of them seniors, were sent to the hospital with injuries sustained in the beatings.
“They hit people on their necks and heads,” she said. “Some were severely injured and sent to the hospital.”
Another woman named Thuy said she was one of those beaten by police.
“They dragged us into a 12-seat vehicle and drove us away,” she told RFA. “My face is so swollen that my eyes are shut. I am dizzy at the moment, and my eyes hurt.”
Thuy said another woman was repeatedly struck in the abdomen, but is too poor to pay a bill for hospital care.
“She is very poor," Thuy said. "She does not have the money to pay for the hospital, so they sent her home.”
Nguyen told RFA that the protest came because the company, identified as the Green Environment Company, built a solid waste processing factory less than a mile from where people live and near a river where they get their water.
Since the factory began operations in the area, many people have complained of new skin rashes and four people have died of cancer, she said.
“That is why people here are very upset and don’t want the factory to continue operating,” Nguyen said. “We stopped a truck that carried toxic waste, and demanded that the factory be closed down because too many people are sick, but they still continue to work.”
Reached by RFA for comment, an official answering the phone at the Ninh Hoa township people’s committee office for Ninh An village denied that any protest had occurred.
"This is only 'corridor news' [a rumor]," the official said. "Nothing has happened."
Reported by Hoang Dung for RFA's Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Brooks Boliek.