Three Vietnamese women were severely wounded Thursday when police opened fire on a group of villagers protesting the construction of a road through disputed farmland in southern Vietnam’s Vinh Long province, according to reports.
The three were taken to hospital, where one had a bullet removed and the other two remained in emergency care following the incident in the Rach Chanh commune in the Mekong Delta province's Binh Minh district.
Vietnam’s Thanh Nien newspaper identified the shooting victims as Vo Thi Sang, Nguyen Thi Loan, and Nguyen Thi Nhanh.
Truong Van Lot, People’s Committee Chairman of the neighboring My Hoa commune, told the newspaper that villagers armed with gasoline, knives, and sticks had confronted members of a security force assigned to protect workers building the road.
Police opened fire when they were attacked, Truong said. Teargas was used to disperse the protesters.
One police officer was injured, according to the report.
Many support project
Because the road being built will connect the commune with a nearby canal, it is considered a welfare project not requiring payment of compensation, Thanh Nien said, adding that almost all of the 290 families affected by the work had willingly donated land.
Fourteen families had refused to donate land, though, and the protesters who confronted police and workers on Thursday had come from this group, the paper said.
Work on the road has now been suspended, and local authorities have been ordered to resolve the problem “quickly,” Thanh Nien said.
All land in Vietnam belongs to the state, with people having only the right to use it. Land expropriation has been linked to several high-profile incidents of unrest in recent years.
Vietnamese prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung, fighting slow economic growth and a banking crisis, has called for a revamp to the country’s land management policies and vowed to punish corrupt local officials involved in illegal land grabs.
He has ordered government agencies to resolve all 500 outstanding land complaints this year, Nguyen Sinh Hung, the National Assembly chairman, told lawmakers in Hanoi in June.
Around 80 percent of public complaints to the government are linked to land disputes, Hung said
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese service. Translated by Viet Long. Written in English by Richard Finney.