In massive land grab, hundreds of police evict farmers

(VNRN) – The government continued its attempts to evict people from Duong Noi, a suburb of Hanoi, mobilized up to 1000 police with heavy machinery, attacked the people in tents and cleared all their properties and crops from 6.9 hectares (17 acres) of land intended for conversion to urban development.

Early morning Apr 25, a force of almost 1000 men, assisted by the military, brought bulldozers and other earthmoving equipments, attacked the farmers who were still holding on the land, razed their crops and arrested several people.

All access roads to Duong Noi were blocked. The attacking force came in police vehicles and 6 large buses. Witnesses said a fire then broke out and police attacked with sticks and batons.

Radio France International reported that dozens were beaten and then taken to jail. Among those arrested was Can Thi Theu (Cấn Thị Thêu) and her husband.

Before her arrest, Theu had written a letter stating, “If I’m arrested and the police use torture to question, force a confession or beat me to death, please take my body to the city government of Hanoi and the national government to seek answers.”

Earlier on Apr 22, a similar force raided the makeshift shantitown local farmers had erected to hold on to their land after their homes had already been destroyed. Witnesses reported dozens were injured and four people were arrested.

According to victims, both times the attacking forces included not just the police but also hired hoodlums and criminal convicts.

Video made by blogger Gio Lang Thang of Apr 22 raid in Duong Noi.

The four people arrested on Apr 22 are said to be three elderly women, Nguyen Thi Ngan (Nguyễn Thị Ngân), Nguyen Thi Toan (Nguyễn Thị Toàn), and Dang Thi Thanh (Đặng Thị Thanh), and one elderly man Nguyen Van Su (Nguyễn Văn Sự).

Duong Noi is a rural village in the suburbs of Hanoi. Until 2008, it was part of Ha Dong, a separate province that was then merged into Hanoi.

Since that time, the local government in Duong Noi, now a ward in the Ha Dong district of Hanoi, has approved 9 development projects that required mass expropriation of land. Farmers claim the government approved these projects without adequate consultation with local citizens as required by law, and without adequate compensation for their land, the only way for them to make a living.

Each of these projects affect several hundred families. The attack on Apr 25 was to clear the way for a project that affects more than 300 peasant families and their farms. The peasants have been staging protests, refusing the leave their land.

In March, two Duong Noi protestors were arrested, and then the police told their families the two had committed suicide. However, to date their bodies had not been released and the families have not received any official notification.

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