20 Residents in Dong Tam Commune Investigated for Murdering Police Officers during Violent Raid in Hoanh Village on January 9

Defend the Defenders, January 13, 2020


The Police Department of Hanoi has announced that it has charged 20 residents of Dong Tam commune with “murdering” and two others with “resisting law enforcement officers” in the bloody clash in the commune’s Hoanh village in the early morning of January which led to at least four deaths, including 3 of police officers.

According to the state-controlled media, a senior official from the city’s Police Department said it is holding 26 residents of Dong Tam commune who are said to be involved in the incident, 20 of them were charged with the first allegation with the highest sentence being capital punishment and two were alleged with the second accusation with the highest sentence being seven years in prison.

The remaining four may be charged with one of the two allegations, the official added.

Among detainees with murder charge are Mr. Le Dinh Cong and Mr. Le Dinh Chuc, sons of Mr. Le Dinh Kinh, the elderly leader of Dong Tam commune who was shot four times by police in the early morning of January 9, and Mr. Le Dinh Quang and Le Dinh Doanh, two Kinh’s grandsons. Some Facebook accounts suspected earlier that some of them have also been killed by police.

In its regular daily news broadcasted at 7 PM on January 13, the state official television channel VTV1 aired confessions of Mr. Le Dinh Cong, Mr. Le Dinh Quang, Mr. Le Dinh Doanh, and Ms. Bui Thi Noi. Accordingly, they committed to preparing hand-made petrol bombs and purchase grenades as well as attacking police forces with stones and petrol bombs during the police raid on January 9. Their faces showed that they may have suffered torture before making confessions.

Meanwhile, in an interview with Hanoi-based activist La Viet Dung, widow Du Thi Thanh, the wife of Mr. Le Dinh Kinh, said she was tortured in police custody when they forced her to admit that her family had storing grenades. When she replied that she cannot admit because she does not know how grenades look like, they slapped her on her face repeatedly.

During the police attack in Mr. Le Dinh Kinh’s private residence, three police officers named senior lieutenant colonel Nguyen Huy Thinh, deputy commander of the Riot Police Capital Regiment, lieutenant Duong Duc Hoang Quan from the same unit, and lieutenant Pham Cong Huy from Hanoi Firefighting Unit, died in unclear circumstance.

Vietnam’s regime has pledged to impose heavy sentences for Dong Tam commune’s residents in a bid to revenge for the deaths of the three officers who were promoted, awarded with Merit of Victory, and recognized as soldiers sacrified their lives during duty.

The clash is part of the land dispute in Dong Tam commune. Vietnam’s communist regime is willing to reclaim a land parcel of 59 hectares named Senh field, saying it is defense land under the administration of the Vietnam People’s Army and is within the Mieu Mon military airport project which was planned in 1980s but has never started. However, residents in Dong Tam say the Senh field is their agricultural field.

The dispute started in early 2017 when VPA wants to give the Senh field to its company Viettel to carry out some development projects. They meet strong protests from the local residents who demand compensation for the field.

In April 2017, police cheat Mr. Kinh by telling him to go to the disputed areas where they beat him, broke his right leg and arrested him and some others. Dong Tam resident got angry and detained 38 police officers to keep as hostages. The crisis ended after Chairman Nguyen Duc Chung of the Hanoi People’s Committee came to pledge to release Mr. Le Dinh Kinh and other detainees, not to probe for hostage, and settle the land dispute peacefully according to the law.

However, Chung did not keep his words and in recent months, Hanoi’s authorities intensified harasment against Dong Tam residents in a bid to force them to give up their Senh field. Dong Tam commune residents have vowed to protect their land even they have to pay with their blood.