A boy who lost his home in the January demolitions in Ho Chi Minh City’s Loc Hung Vegetable Garden settlement refused Monday to stand in front of his school and read government propaganda justifying the forced eviction of his and other families in the community.
In a two-day operation at the beginning of January, 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.
Cao Thanh Tin was asked by his teacher at Le Van Sy Primary School to read a government-prepared statement to the entire school, but declined, saying the document was not factual.
A video appearing on the Loc Hung Garden Facebook page on Tuesday shows the boy talking about the incident.
“[The statement] said that the land is public land and will be used for a school project, but our land has belonged to our family going back many years. The teacher told me to report immediately to the commune police if we are ever threatened, terrorized or talked to by reactionary elements,” Cao said in the video.
At the school, RFA found an official document from the Tan Binh district board of education dated March 4 and sent to all schools in the district. It ordered the schools to hold propaganda sessions every morning to talk about the forced eviction. The directive says that schools should facilitate these sessions from March 25 to June 30, 2019.
The video also featured a mother of students in the school district who also lost her house in the forced eviction.
“They took our houses, leaving us and our children homeless, and now they told our children that it was right to destroy our houses. It was right to tear down our village and it was right to make them homeless,” said Nguyen Thanh Ha in the video.
“That’s propaganda against education!” she said.
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 by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Eugene Whong.