Agents seized No-Formosa T-shirts. Police mistreatment sparks anger among locals. For parish priest Dan Huu Nam, "They have to apologise for their behavior and must return the shirts". One year after the disaster, compensation is slow.
Hanoi (AsiaNews/RFA) – Almost a thousand protesters surrounded the Quynh Luu police station in central Vietnam’s Nghe An province on Monday to demand an apology from police for seizing 200 T-shirts with protest slogans and beating two men transporting the shirts.
The shirts, which police promised later in the day to return, bore the slogan No-Formosa in a reference to the Taiwan-owned Formosa Plastics Group, whose steel plant in coastal Ha Tinh province caused a toxic waste spill last year that killed an estimated 115 tonnes of fish and left fishermen jobless in four coastal provinces.
Outraged by police mistreatment of those transporting the shirts, Quynh Luu residents, including many Catholics, gathered outside district police headquarters on 24 April to demand the shirts’ return, said parish priest Dan Huu Nam told Radio Free Asia’s Vietnamese Service.
“We and the police have agreed on a solution,” the clergyman said. “They have to apologize for their behaviour and must return the shirts to Song Ngoc Church so that we can give them back to the people.”
“I told the authorities in front of everyone that if they don’t resolve this situation properly, we will continue to peacefully protest to demand our rights,” he added.
The protest ended without clashes, and by 6:00 pm all protesters had returned to their homes.
The Formosa Company has voluntarily paid US$ 500 million to clean up and compensate coastal residents affected by the April 2016 spill, but slow and uneven payout of the funds by the Vietnamese government has prompted protests that continue to be held a year later.