A majority of the families displaced by the January demolitions in Ho Chi Minh City’s Loc Hung Vegetable Garden settlement are accepting compensation from Vietnamese authorities, officials said on Thursday.
In a two-day operation at the beginning of last month, authorities demolished at least 112 houses in the settlement in Tanh Binh district claimed by the Catholic Church, where sources say political dissidents and veterans of the former Army of South Vietnam had made their homes.
Vo Van Hoan, office director of Ho Chi Minh City’s peoples committee, was quoted by state media on Thursday as saying that the district’s authorities met with representatives of 111 of the 124 displaced families.
According to the director, 92 of these agreed to accept financial support, while 19 refused the government’s offer. Among the 92 that agreed, 39 had received their compensation, which cumulatively totaled more than 41 billion dong (about $1.77 million).
Hoan said the local district also paid each of the 39 families 5 million dong ($216) as a bonus, as well as preparing Tet (lunar new year) presents worth 6 million ($259) for 50 of the Loc Hung families.
One representative of the displaced families disagreed with Director Vo’s account.
“They’ve been saying from the very beginning that they met with 50 people, then with 90 people, but this is not true,” said Cao Ha Truc, in an interview with RFA’s Vietnamese Service.
“Four days before Tet, all of the evictees had a meeting with our lawyers. I counted the number of people at the meeting and there were only 100,” said Cao. “So the number of families they’re saying agree with the government is not correct.”
“They mix up the number of families they are talking to with the number of families that agree with them,” Cao said.
“If they agree with the government, why are they still signing complaints and petitions?” Cao said.
“I am a member of the representative board [of Loc Hung families], I can confirm this,” said Cao.
While all land in Vietnam is ultimately held by the state, land confiscations have become a flashpoint as residents accuse the government of pushing small landowners aside in favor of lucrative real estate projects, and of paying too little in compensation to those whose land is taken.
Reported and translated by Viet Ha for RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Written in English by Eugene Whong.