Violent assault on land activist

Mr Huong has been subjected to a sustained campaign of violence and intimidation

An elderly farmer protesting against the seizure of his land by local officials has been violently attacked in public by plainclothes police, according to his lawyer.

Truong Minh Huong  was stopped at a roadblock outside Hanoi, ejected from his taxi, and then badly beaten by police agents who had been trailing him by motorcycle.

Land campaigners are frequently subjected to assault or arrest, as the government seeks to silence seething discontent amongst farmers whose land has been repossessed for industrial development.

Many say they are offered only derisory compensation while their land is sold on at vast profit to developers.

Mr Huong’s lawyer, Ha Huy Son, said they had been attending a hearing at an administrative tribunal in Ha Nam province south of the capital.

Their case was rejected, and as they were finishing lunch afterwards, Mr Son said that a group of plainclothes police approached his client and assaulted him.

They managed to get away and into a taxi, but were followed by police agents on motorcycles.

About 50 km from Hanoi, they were stopped by traffic police and forced to get out of the vehicle. Mr Huong was then set upon more violently by six or seven police. He was left sprawled in the road, badly shaken and with blood pouring from his nose.

Mr Huong says he has been subjected to a sustained bout of attacks and harassment by local police because of his fight for his land and for his involvement in pro-democracy campaigns.

He has also been subjected to a covert smear campaign by government loyalists in the community, who have produced pamphlets accusing him of sexual misconduct.