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Vietnamese Farmer Jailed for Trying to Defend His Property from Illegal Land Grab
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Doan Van Vuon, a Vietnamese fish farmer who tried to defend his property from land grabbing military by using homemade traps and bombs was jailed on Friday. In a case that underscored corrupt communist officials allowing illegal seizure of lands of peasants in exchange of kickbacks from businesses in Vietnam, Vuon’s case stands out for desperate resistance.

Before trying to make homemade bombs and traps, Vuon had posted on Facebook, “I had warned them that I would resist. It pained me to have to criminalize this civil issue, so that the agencies would look into it.”

Though the authorities in Haiphong (about 100 km east of Hanoi) have admitted that the seizure of Vuon’s land was illegal and several officials would face trial next week – traditionally, such cases drag on for years and are ultimately lost and forgotten.

  
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However, the authorities were quick to send Vuon to jail for five years and also sentence to prison two of his brothers and nephews for daring to protect their land against illegal seizure. They have been accused of injuring seven police and soldiers by using booby traps and homemade bombs. Two of their wives have also been sentenced to jail.

Vuon’s case has started an intense debate across social media to emphasize the extent to which poor people and peasants were being driven to fight the corrupt communist regime in Vietnam.

Illegal land grabs have become popular with foreign investments and rapid economic growth. Lands of peasants are grabbed under reasons such as national security, and then handed over to businesses.

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The Asia deputy director for Human Rights Watch, Phil Robertson said the case of Vuon should serve as an instance for the government to wake up. He said, “The issue of widespread arbitrary land seizures by corrupt officials or without due process and just compensation is what really made this trial resonate in the minds of ordinary Vietnamese people.”





 

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