A woman sentenced to fifteen months in prison in one of Vietnam’s most bitterly contested land disputes has been released to a tumultuous welcome after completing her sentence.
Relatives, neighbours and other farmers came out in force to greet Can Thi Theu as she returned to the beleaguered village of Duong Noi.
Some had travelled in convoy to pick her up from the release site at Thanh Hoa, about a hundred and twenty kilometres south of the capital.
Mrs Theu is from one of some three hundred families that have been in conflict with the authorities since their land was seized for development.
She was arrested during a violent confrontation on April 25 2014 when police and civilian enforcers moved in to seize their farmland.
Mrs Theu was convicted along with her husband and another farmer and sentenced to prison for “resisting persons who are performing their official duties.”
She was charged with filming the assault by police and their auxiliaries on farmers who were trying to put up resistance.
Her footage, shot from a makeshift watch tower, showed plainclothes men chasing and beating men and women through banana plantations.
Her fifteen month sentence was the longest handed out by the court. The other two have since been released.
Her son said she appeared well and was in good spirits but will be taken to hospital for a health check on Sunday.
Farmers from Duong Noi have made numerous petitions at government buildings in Hanoi requesting that they settle the land dispute and intervene with local authorities.
They say they have been subjected to harassment and intimidation by state agents during their weekly visits to the centre of Hanoi.
The farmers have rejected what they consider an inadequate offer of compensation for their land, which will be sold to developers at a vastly higher price.
They say no provision has been made by the authorities for their livelihood or for the retraining of young people in the village.