(AsiaNews) - A Court of appeal dismissed fish farmer Doan Van Vuon's demand for
compensation for material and moral damages over his courageous family's fight against
forced evictions by the Vietnamese government.
issued yesterday by the Court of Appeals in Hai Phong (northern Vietnam),
confirmed Mr Doan's five-year sentence and imposed a 23 million dong (US$
His lawyers had asked
for 30 billion dong (US$ 1.4 million) in compensation, but the court rejected what
they deemed a baseless claim.
starring Doan Van Vuon and his family epitomises the abusive behaviour by
Vietnam's central and local authorities when it comes to land and property,
this in a country where virtually everything belongs to the Communist state. In
fact, some 70 per cent of all such cases involve land, and the rights of
individuals are neither protected nor recognised.
and outside the Asian country closely followed the case of this courageous
family, its appeals and actions against Mr Duon's incarceration.
"We knew this
would happen," his wife Nguyen Thi Thuong told RFA's Vietnamese Service. She could not attend the court hearing.
Vu Van Luan,
vice-chairman of the Tien Lang Seafood Cultivation Association, tried to argue
in court that the land eviction was illegal by "quoting law and regulations
with regards to land confiscation," but "due to political matters, they ignored
everything" the defence had to say.
The case is but
the latest episode in a long series of confrontations between the authorities
and ordinary people, as well as the Catholic Church, over the ownership of
land, buildings and businesses.
In this case,
the controversy revolves around 40 acres of land that Mr Duon got in concession
from the government back in 1993. Over the years, thanks to his work, he turned
marshland and swamps into a fish farm. However, after their investment began to
pay off, the authorities decided to claim the farm in 2009.
After a long legal
battle, they issued an ultimatum on 24 November 2011, telling the family to get
off the land and stop its activities. Instead of accepting the fait accompli,
Peter and his family decided to react.
When on 5
January 2012 a group of soldiers approached the area to carry out the
expropriation order, they were "greeted" by a volley of shots, bullets
and grenades. They were not meant to kill, but to stop the agents from entering
No one was hurt
or killed in the incident, but a few days later, police raided the site again, and
arrested family members who were put on trial for "murder".
others came out on the side of the accused, astonished by Doan Vuon's determination
to defend his business.
In response to
the case, Mgr Paul Nguyen Thai Hop, president of the Justice and Peace Commission
of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Vietnam, and Mgr Joseph Vu Van Thien, bishop
of Hai Phong, began a petition, calling for the acquittal of the accused.