Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung called Friday for a revamp of the country's land management policies as he criticized the forced eviction of an ex-Vietnamese soldier turned farmer who had used explosives to resist a government land-repossession move.
Farmer Doan Van Vuon is in jail for attacking security forces who came to repossess his farmland in the northern port city of Hai Phong on Jan. 5, a case widely reported in the country's media, which is tightly controlled by Vietnam's ruling Communist Party.
But Prime Minister Dung, who has taken a personal interest in the case, said on Friday that the repossession and forced eviction were illegal, drawing relief from Vuon's family and fellow farmers.
"My family are all happy about that. We depend on the Party and the Government to handle it properly ... I’m so happy I cannot fully express my feelings," 49-year-old Vuon's wife Nguyen Thi Thuong told RFA.
Their house on the outskirts of Hai Phong, Vietnam's third-largest city, has been razed to the ground.
"My family is monitoring the matter online, and we’re all happy," added Pham Thi Hien, wife of Vuon's brother Doan Van Quy, who is also in jail.
The two brothers together with another brother and a nephew are being held for attempted murder following the incident in Hai Phong city's Tien Lang district which resulted in serious injuries to four policemen and two soldiers.
They had allegedly laid homemade land mines and fired improvised shotguns when security forces enforced the eviction, seriously wounding four policemen and two soldiers.
"We hope that the Prime Minister would continue guiding all ranks of authorities to deal with the case of my family in a swift and fair way," Quy told RFA.
"Our loss is what the whole society will gain."
All land in Vietnam belongs to the state and people only have the right to use it. Land expropriation has been linked to several incidents of unrest in recent years.
Prime Minister Dung said the decision to take back Vuon's land and the subsequent forced eviction "were both illegal," according to quotes read by a Vietnamese government official to reporters, Agence France-Presse reported.
Dung, who commissioned a report into the "regrettable" incident and chaired a meeting on the findings on Friday, called on local officials nationwide to "actively reconsider" their land-management policies, according to AFP.
Dung said officials must ensure evictions and land seizures are carried out "in strict accordance with the law," a report posted on the government website said Friday.
He asked officials to expedite Vuon's trial and requested they reduce the charges against him.
Dung has also ordered an investigation into the destruction of Vuon's house, which he described as "a violation of the law" saying that anyone found responsible would be punished.
Vu Van Luan, the general secretary of the Joint Association for Aqua-product Producers of Tien Lang district, also welcomed Dung's action, saying, "It’s the truth that we have stated since 1993."
"This case is due to the lack of management skill and malicious intention ... [The] authorities at all ranks have engaged too late," he told RFA.
"This is the big problem relating complaints, accusations, and the promulgation laws and decrees."
Two members of the local authorities were suspended this week for their role in the eviction.
Reported by RFA's Vietnamese service. Translated by Viet Long. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.