Thousands of Land Petitioners Rally across Vietnam, Many Detained and Beaten

Land petitioners hold peaceful demonstration in Hanoi on Feb 27
Land petitioners hold peaceful demonstration in Hanoi on Feb 27

[themify_box style=”blue, announcement, rounded” ]Thousands of land petitioners nationwide rallied in main streets in big cities across Vietnam on Saturday [Feb 27] to demand for their properties, many of them were detained and beaten by security forces, the victims reported.[/themify_box]

by Vu Quoc Ngu, Feb 27, 2016

Thousands of land petitioners nationwide rallied in main streets in big cities across Vietnam on Saturday [Feb 27] to demand the return of their properties. Many of them were detained by local authorities, according to social websites.

Around five hundred land petitioners gathered in Quang Trung Street in the capital city of Hanoi. Coming from different provinces and cities, the petitioners unfurled banners that say “Je Suis Dan Oan” or “I am a land petitioner” and chanted slogans to request authorities to return their confiscated properties.

Authorities in Hanoi sent hundreds of police officers, plainclothes agents and militia to suppress the peaceful demonstration, arresting some land petitioners, including Trinh Ba Tu and Trinh Ba Phuong, two sons of prisoners of conscience Can Thi Theu and Trinh Ba Khiem from Duong Noi commune. Mr. Tu said he was severely beaten by police officers during interrogation in the Ha Dong district police station.

In Saigon, the biggest economic hub in the communist nation, hundreds of land petitioners started a peaceful demonstration in the city’s center at around 9 AM. About a half hour later, police came and violently dispersed them, brutally beat many and detained all land petitioners and a dozen social activists who came to support them.

Among the detained were blogger Do Duc Hop, former political prisoner Huynh Anh Tu, land petitioners Maria Thuy Nguyen and Tran Ngoc Anh, Ms. Nguyen Thi Kim Em and Ms. Doan Thi Nu. The three latest women were reported to be severely beaten by police who released them in the afternoon.

Police took land petitioners to different places far from the city’s center and released them. They questioned activists Hop and Tu before freeing them in late afternoon.

Vietnamese in many countries such as the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, France and Denmark also hold rallies today to support land petitioners in their home country as they mark February 27 as International Day for Vietnam Land Petitioners.

Vietnam has tens of thousands of land petitioners as all land in the communist nation belongs to the state and people have only the right to use it. Authorities in many provinces and cities have seized large areas of land from local residents for building urban areas and industrial projects without paying reasonable prices.

In many places, local authorities have taken land and compensated with very low prices and later sold the land to property projects developers at prices thousand times higher than the compensation rate.

Due to low compensation, thousands of people have opposed land seizure. They have gathered in big cities including Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to demand for justice. Many of them have no residence and have to live on the streets in Hanoi near the government office for receiving denunciations.

Land petitioners have been subjects of police abuse who periodically destroy their tents on the streets. Many of them have been brutally attacked by police, plainclothes agents and militia.

A number of land petitioners have been arrested and charged with causing public disorders when they peacefully protested their land appropriation. Many of them have been imprisoned between one and three years.

Vietnam needs to change its current Land Law in a bid to deal with illegal land seizure, said social activists, adding land ownership should be separated into state, public and private land.

Illegal land seizure by authorities in localities has caused great public dissatisfaction and social instability, which threatens the communist regime, activists said.