A group of activists and land-grab victims from the Hanoi area of Vietnam said they were beaten by plainclothes policemen on Thursday in Nghe An province as they were on their way home from meeting one of their colleagues who was released early from prison.
This group had gone to a prison in Thanh Chuong, a rural district of Nghe An province in the north-central coastal region of Vietnam, to meet Trinh Ba Khiem, a farmer who had been jailed for protesting a land grab and released a month before his sentence had ended.
Khiem and his wife, Can Thi Theu, had been arrested on April 25, 2014, during a land requisition in Duong Noi village in the Ha Dong district of Hanoi to make way for urban development projects. They were prosecuted on charges of resisting officers on duty, and each received a 15-month sentence.
Blogger Nguyen Tuong Thuy, one of the activists who went to the prison to meet Khiem, told RFA’s Vietnamese Service that on their way back, the members of the group were outnumbered and beaten by what appeared to be plainclothes policemen.
“They surrounded us and beat us barbarously,” he said. “Many of us were injured. Trinh Ba Khiem’s two children were also beaten. Trinh Ba Tu, his son, was soaked in his own blood, and his eyes were swollen. They even beat women.”
The government started taking land in Duong Noi, located about 14 kilometers (8.6 miles) southwest of Hanoi, several years ago after farmers there refused to transfer their land rights to Nam Cuong Group, a Vietnamese company developing the area for a complex of residential and office buildings, hotels and schools.
The farmers have said the land seizures were illegal and that they were not fairly compensated.
Khiem and Theu were among seven farmers in Duong Noi, who were arrested in March and April of 2014 for resisting the land grabs. The farmers, all of whom were sentenced on charges of disturbing public order, received jail sentences ranging from six to 22 months.
Theu is still serving her term in Thanh Hoa prison with other prisoners of conscience such as Ta Phong Tan and Nguyen Dang Minh Man, Nguyen said.
Reported by An Nguyen for RFA's Vietnamese Service. Translated by Ninh Pham. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.