07/22/2015, 00.00
VIETNAM
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Over a million Vietnamese victimised by forced evictions and violence

by Ngoc Lan
Government land policy has increasingly deprived peasants as well as Christian and Buddhist religious groups of their land. Not only is land bought up for paltry sums, but once it is taken away, much of it is left idle, unused. When ordinary Vietnamese protest they are beaten and arrested. Chinese companies and business interests are behind land policy.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) – Disputes over land continue to oppose government officials and various Christian and Buddhist religious groups. As noted in the past, this has unsettled Vietnam’s economic and social development.

Over the years, hundreds of thousands of poor farmers have been evicted from their land in exchange for paltry compensation.

The latest figures indicate that more than a million poor landless peasants have become petitioners, seeking justice without the benefit of legal protection.

According to research by the Can Tho Chamber of Commerce, in southern Vietnam, the Mekong Delta has 74 manufacturing zones, with 214 industrial groups, in an area that covers 42,000 hectares. However, 92 per cent of it is not being used. Many of the zones are operating on 5 to 40 per cent of the land. The rest is abandoned. For local communities, this has become a major a source of pollution.

Last June, thousands of farmers and impoverished residents from the provinces gathered in front of the Parliament building, asking for help. Communist authorities responded by setting the police and gangs of thugs on the protesters. Scores were arrested.

In Cẩm Djien, in the northern province of Hai Duong, people have been protesting for weeks against puny compensation in exchange of confiscated land.

Redemptorist Fathers in Hanoi’s Thai Ha parish lost a lot of land as well. According to the latest count, out of some 60,000 m2 they once held, they are now reduced to 2,500.

This is the result of the Communist government seizing their property, piece by piece, especially three strategically located areas. The same thing is true for Liên Trì pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City, southern Vietnam. 

In light of the situation, activists and human rights groups have called for changes to the law governing land ownership, as well as better economic and social policies.

However, many in both the central and local government are against changes because they would make it harder to hide illegal activities, corruption and dodgy deals.

For some observers, many Chinese companies and entrepreneurs are behind the land grab. They get their way by paying off officials at both the local and national level at the expense of the majority of the population.

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