Woman sets herself on fire in land eviction dispute

A 52-year-old woman set herself on fire during a confrontation with officials intervening in a land dispute in central Vietnam.

The woman – identified in press reports only as Pham Thi Le – was taken to hospital and was said to be in critical condition.

Video footage circulating on Facebook showed the woman in a fierce quarrel with land eviction officers. She then poured petrol over her body and set herself on fire.

The officials had been sent to remove her from the land in Duc Pho district, Quang Ngai province, according to the newspaper Dan Tri [People’s Knowledge].

The woman is seen engulfed in flames in a video clip circulating on social media.

The woman is seen engulfed in flames in a video clip circulating on social media.

The local People’s Committee had sent some twenty officers to the village.

The Dan Tri reported that the eviction originated from a private land dispute between the woman  and her neighbour. Two years ago, the People’s Committee of Duc Pho district, stepped in as an arbitrator and awarded the land to the neighbour.

Mrs Le made an appeal but it was rejected by the committee on April 2 this year.

She filed lawsuits to appeal against the decision at a local court on April 18.

In July, however, the court rejected her case, arguing that “the statute of limitations for complaints has ended.”

Analysts say the statute is very vaguely stipulated in the Vietnamese Civil Code.

It is the latest in a series of violent confrontations over land rights.

In most cases farmers have been pitted against local authorities who have designated their land for development.