Family Member of Slain Vietnamese Community Leader Petitions Police for Return of Belongings


2020-05-19
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vietnam-dongtamgate2-011420.gif A gate at the Dong Tam commune outside Hanoi is shown in an April 21, 2017 photo.
Reuters

A close relative of an elderly community leader killed by Vietnamese police during a land protest outside Hanoi in January has petitioned authorities for the return of a car and other valuables that disappeared from her home after the clash, the woman said.

Nguyen Thi Duyen, wife of the grandson of slain community leader Le Dinh Kinh, told RFA’s Vietnamese Service on Tuesday that items of jewelry valued at almost $2,300 were among the personal possessions that were taken after she was detained following the Jan. 9 raid by police.

“On that day, I could not foresee how many terrible things would happen, and I left my valuables behind as usual,” she said, adding that a wedding ring and bracelets that she kept in boxes and a dresser drawer were missing when she returned home.

“My cosmetics and lipstick were taken also,” she said.

Invited to speak to police on May 15, Nguyen was told they had taken only her car and a safe containing some papers, she said, adding that police suggested she file a report about the additional missing belongings.

Du Thi Hanh, Le Dinh Kinh’s widow, has meanwhile filed a sixth petition with central government authorities asking for an explanation of the circumstances surrounding her husband’s death and the arrests of her children and grandson in the Jan. 9 attack by riot police on the Dong Tam commune outside Hanoi, family sources said.

Clash blamed on police

Le Dinh Kinh, 84, was shot and killed on Jan. 9 by police who attacked his home in Dong Tam’s Hoanh village in an early morning assault that involved about 3,000 security officers from the police and armed forces.

Though official reports said that villagers had assaulted police with grenades and petrol bombs, a report drawn from witness accounts and released seven days later by journalists and activists said that police had attacked first during the deadly clash that also claimed the lives of three police officers.

Police blocked off pathways and alleys during the attack and beat villagers “indiscriminately, including women and old people,” the report said, calling the assault “possibly the bloodiest land dispute in Vietnam in the last ten years.”

The Dong Tam tragedy was the latest flare-up of a long-running dispute over a military airport construction site about 25 miles south of Vietnam’s capital Hanoi.

On July 25, 2017, the Hanoi Inspectorate announced that a “comprehensive inspection” had determined that the military administered all 236.7 hectares (584.9 acres) of airport land. The Inspectorate cited court findings from April 14, 1980; Nov. 10, 1981; and Oct. 20, 2014.

It acknowledged that the military had “made several mistakes in management” of the land, including allowing area residents to use it after a rental contract expired in 2012 and failing to relocate certain households before 1980, leading to illegal encroachment and construction.

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 landholders aside in favor of lucrative real estate projects, and of paying too little in compensation.

Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Huy Le. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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