Dong Tam, 29 Vietnamese who had their lands expropriated on trial

The village lands were seized for military, industrial and real estate speculation purposes. The village elder in clashes with the police. But his death is attributed to relatives, who participated in the revolt against the police.

Hanoi (AsiaNews / RFA) - A group of 29 people from the village of Dong Tam (less than 40 km south of Hanoi) will be tried on 7 September for an incident linked to the expropriation of their lands. They are accused of taking part in clashes with the police in which three policemen and one of the leaders of the protest were killed.

On 9 January, at least 3 thousand policemen carried out a raid on the village where land had been expropriated years ago to build a military airport and real estate speculations. In ensuing clashes between the villagers and the police, in addition to the three policemen, the village elder, Le Dinh Kinh, was killed - shot by the police.

In response, the authorities accused his son Le Dinh Chuc and his grandsons Le Dinh Doanh and Le Dinh Uy of the murder of the 84-year-old. Together with them, 22 other people from the village are accused of complicity in the murder. If found guilty, they risk from 12 years in prison to capital punishment.

Four others from the village are also on trial accused of hindering the duties of the police. They face 2 to 7 years in prison.

Some of the prisoners went on hunger strike.

Land seizures are a major cause of tension between the population, local authorities and the government. Although all the land belongs to the state, the land is sold to peasants and private individuals. Due to the spiralling development in the country, many companies are looking for spaces for their industries and there is a search for spaces to build houses. For this reason, the government is accused of driving out rual poor, monks, parishioners from their land, to sell them to large companies. As the authorities make million dollar deals, farmers see their lands seized with no or minimal compensation.