About 300 Vietnamese police evicted farmers from their land in a village on the outskirts of the country’s capital Hanoi on Tuesday, though there have been no reports of detentions or injuries, a local resident said.
The officers arrived at around 6 a.m. with several police vans in Duong Noi village in the capital’s Ha Dong district, resident Trinh Ba Phuong told RFA’s Vietnamese Service.
The village is known for its longstanding land disputes.
Assisted by members of the local People's Committee, police forcibly removed hundreds of farm families from their homes, including those who regularly go to Hanoi to air their grievances outside government offices about a previous land grab, he said.
“Their crops were destroyed, and they [police] erected a fence around the destroyed areas," he said. "Not many farmers came to the site because the police blocked them from entering it. The police were very aggressive, so the farmers decided to withdraw.”
There have been no reports of clashes or detentions arising from the evictions, and the more than 300 families affected have vowed to remain and refuse any compensation from the government for forcibly removing them, Phuong said.
Not the first time
The government began 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 the Nam Cuong Group, a Vietnamese company developing the area for a complex of residential and office buildings, hotels, and schools.
In 2011, local government authorities decided to hand over part of Duong Noi's farmland to the company supposedly to build roads, though villagers suspected that the firm intended to sell the land to housing developers, Phuong said.
The villagers refused the compensation they were offered because they believed the amounts were not enough for them to settle someplace else, he said.
“They protested the land grab because they thought the process was illegal,” Phuong said, adding, “They sent their complaints to government agencies.”
“A government inspection concluded that the land grab in Duong Noi was illegal, but the villagers' demand for higher compensation has not been addressed,” he said.
Some villagers, including farmer and land activist Can Thi Theu, were imprisoned for protesting, he said.
Theu and her husband Trinh Ba Khiem were arrested in April 2014 and beaten by police for recording videos of forced evictions during a land requisition in the village to make way for urban development projects.
About six months later, Theu and her husband were each sentenced to 15 months in prison for resisting officers on duty.
After her release, Theu participated in a demonstration in January 2016 in Hanoi and was detained by authorities along with 29 others for protesting local government attempts to seize family farms. She later told RFA that officers interrogated her separately and failed to produce an arrest order at the station.
Theu is now in detention again for disrupting public order, Phuong said.
Local government officials in Vietnam and elsewhere in Southeast Asia often use their authority to confiscate land and sell it to developers.
In many cases, local villagers say they receive little compensation or amounts much less than what authorities have promised, and are forced to move to less-productive parcels of land far from their previous homes.
Vietnamese citizens frequently gather outside various government offices in an effort to talk to, or submit petitions to, officials about homes or farmland that local authorities have taken from them.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.