Hundreds of Villagers Hold Officials Hostage Over Vietnam Power Plant Plans

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Police confront protesters who blocked a highway in Binh Dinh province’s Phu My district, April 18, 2018.
Police confront protesters who blocked a highway in Binh Dinh province’s Phu My district, April 18, 2018.
Photo courtesy of an RFA listener

Hundreds of villagers in central Vietnam’s Binh Dinh province held five local officials hostage for a day before releasing them late on Friday to demand that authorities free more than a dozen people detained for holding an environmental protest, according to sources.

Residents of My Tho and My An communes, in Binh Dinh’s Phu My district, on Wednesday held a protest against what state media has reported are plans by Vietnam Trading Engineering Construction's (Vietracimex) to construct a wind power plant.

The villagers blocked a local highway and threw sand at police over the plans, which they said are a cover for a titanium ore exploitation operation that they believe will destroy local forestland through pollution.

Authorities broke up the protest and detained 14 people for “disturbing public order.”

Early on Friday morning, some 500 people surrounded the local government office in My Tho commune and took five officials hostage, including the local ruling Communist Party chief, the party chairman, and three police officers, a villager told RFA’s Vietnamese Service, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.

The mob forced authorities to release the 14 people arrested in the earlier protest and eventually allowed the five hostages to go free around midnight on Friday, before returning to their homes, the villager said.

Public demonstrations are extremely rare in one-party Communist Vietnam, where dissent is not tolerated.

In April last year, farmers in Dong Tam commune, in the capital Hanoi’s My Duc district, detained dozens of police officers and officials during a week-long standoff over their claims that the government was seizing their farmland for the military-run Viettel Group—the country’s largest mobile phone operator—without adequately compensating them.

At the end of the standoff, Hanoi’s mayor pledged not to prosecute residents and to investigate their claims, but months later, the city’s Inspectorate determined that they had no right to the land and awarded it to the military.

Vietnam has also seen regular protests over the government’s handling of a toxic waste spill that occurred along the country’s central coast in April 2016, polluting more than 125 miles of coastline along four coastal provinces, killing an estimated 115 tons of fish, and leaving fishermen and tourism industry workers jobless.

Two months after the spill, Taiwan-owned Formosa Plastics Group acknowledged it was responsible for the release of the chemicals from its massive steel plant located at the deep-water port in Ha Tinh province’s Ky Anh district.

The company voluntarily paid U.S. $500 million to clean up and compensate those affected by the spill, but the slow and uneven payout of the funds by the Vietnamese government has prompted ongoing demonstrations.

Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

Comments (2)


from VN

I am extremely proud of the people who unite together to defend their common interest, against the irresponsible communist government. A day will come where a spark will trigger a national unstoppable revolution who will take down the communists. I am waiting for that day and I am ready to give my life for my people.

Apr 26, 2018 09:51 PM

Hate Communist

from ghet bac Ho

Eventually the moon and stars will line up just as the events that will lead to a successful revolution - after 43 years of injustice and betrayal, what do you expect? We are waiting for that day to come.
VNmese people aren’t mindless or sheep. I know how long it took the last 2 ('colonization') before we were free – for a short while anyway. North VN has Ho to thank for that and for us southerners to cuss him every day.
The real questions are 1/When will the country come together to overthrow these goons and 2/What catastrophic event(s) will trigger this?
Like millions of patriots in and out of the country, we are waiting and chomping at the bits. The time will come and the people will answer the call. We will push the unknowns out of our minds, with fire in our eyes, and clenched fists to unleash a thousand years of madness on the communist goons. We’ll not be denied.

Apr 24, 2018 10:17 AM





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