Tensions between villagers and authorities in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi came to a boil over the weekend as residents continued to hold 20 people hostage, including about a dozen police. According to reports, local officials and journalists have also been detained by residents of My Duc's rural Dong Tam commune.
International Day of Campesino Struggle
"Some citizens ... have committed acts of obstruction and illegally held Hanoi police officers," the Vietnam News Agency said, quoting a police announcement.
The events began Saturday after police confronted villagers who claimed that their farmland was illegally seized and sold to military-owned telecom operator Viettel. Police arrested nine villagers and in the battles that followed the arrests, villagers captured the police officers and barricaded all roads to the village.
"Local residents said they have no intention of releasing the hostages unless the central government intervenes," said La Viet Dung who visited the site Sunday morning.
"People have closed off their villages. No one can come in or out. The police are surrounding the area, preventing media access. The situation is tense," Dung told AFP.
The Southeast Asian country survived numerous devastating wars of invasion by the Japanese, French, U.S. and China in the course of the 20th century while also facing conflicts with neighboring countries. However, the country has enjoyed relative success, led by the Communist Party of Vietnam, in recovering and developing its economic base while alleviating poverty following its victories over successive imperialist onslaughts.
In 1986, the national party congress adopted the policy of Doi Moi, or "Renovation," abolishing centralized management and codifying the adoption of market reforms. Peasants, urban labor and informal sector workers have complained about a lowered standard in protections as the country continues to experience surging inflows of foreign capital and the privatization of formerly state-owned enterprises.
Land disputes have increased as the government of Vietnam pursues its development goals, often turning over large swathes of state-owned agricultural land to commercial interests and national firms. However, the violent nature of the My Duc incident is rare.
In 2012, a Vietnamese fish farmer used homemade weapons to resist a forced eviction and injured seven policemen. The farmer was jailed for five years, but his case became a symbol of growing popular anger over land rights. In 2013, a gunman killed a provincial official before committing suicide in an apparent dispute over land in northern Vietnam.