The police violently suppressed
An injustice group in Thu Thiem, on October 5, 2020, resumed trips to Hanoi to request the central government agencies to quickly settle the land dispute in Thu Thiem.
The reason that motivated them to depart even in the dangerous context of the COVID-19 pandemic was because they believed that the authorities of Ho Chi Minh City and District 2 revealed their willingness not hold dialogue with Thu Thiem land petitioers. In addition, the local government also takes measures to publicly suppress people in a thug manner.
The latest incident happened on September 30, when some Thu Thiem residents came to their old land with banners to announce they would rebuild their houses if the city government refuses to completely settle the local government’s wrongdoings in Thu Thiem.
Mr. Cao Thang Ca, on the evening of October 5, recounted the incident that happened to himself on the morning of September 30.
“When land petitioners hang the banners, I walked into that area. Of course, the local authorities do not give cars to enter. Some walking people were allowed in while others were not permitted. I was blocked from entering. I asked them why they let others in but not me then I also saw that they were escorting some Thu Thiem land petitioners out. While I entered, they pushed me down and injured my spine. The person who pushed me was a policeman in uniform, in the presence of Ms. Hong, District Commissioner – secretary and vice chairwoman of Binh An ward. I asked to make a record, but they refused. They just let me lie there for 2 hours, from 9 am to 11 am. After that, the police came to say to save people first and make a report later. But they said that just to cheat me.”
Mr. Ca said the local government “cheated” because:
“When they took me to the emergency, I did not expect that they put me in the car and used trained skills to tie my legs and arms, causing me to be in pain as I felt much more hurt while in the ambulance. The police also suppress those land petitioners who tried to block them so people became afraid and dispersed. People who attacked land petitioners’ legs and arms were all policemen in plain clothes. When I got in the car, they also cursed me so that I could not bear it. There are 3 police officers in the car. A security man pinned me down with his hands, feet, and knees while the security man sitting in the cabin cursing me with dirty words like a gangster. When I was taken to the emergency room and a doctor was taking my medical records, the policemen took pictures secretly. The doctor said this place could not be photographed. I told the doctor that if the police do not comply with the law, how can we trust the District 2 government.”
Pastor Nguyen Hong Quang was also present at the disputed land between the Thu Thiem people and the District 2 Government. Pastor Nguyen Hong Quang told RFA he had come to visit the old chapel site, but also was violently prevented by plainclothes policemen.
“I went later after Mr. Ca was taken to emergency and I was also grabbed and led away. I came back to visit and they beat me. They pushed me out and when the land petitioners rushed in to drag me out, then they let me go.”
Thu Thiem residents such as Protestant pastor Nguyen Hong Quang and Mr. Cao Thang Ca said that the banners were mentioned at the meetings of the National Assembly deputies and during the meeting with the Head of the National Citizen Reception Committee. Mr. Nguyen Hong Diep. Thu Thiem people decide to rebuild their houses, if the HCM City government and District 2 do not hold dialogue with the people of Thu Thiem until the end of September this year.
Pastor Nguyen Hong Quang also confirmed to RFA about the move of the police both in uniform and plain clothes, on September 30 to prevent Thu Thiem people from entering their land under the witnessed by representatives of local government agencies. Those representatives allowed the incident to happen, and did not take action to make a record as requested by the Thu Thiem people present at the scene. They asked the land petitioners to leave their land.
Accuse local authorities of wrongdoing
The Thu Thiem land petitioners presenting in the conflict incident on the morning of September 30, said that the district and city authorities made it even more clear to the Thu Thiem people that they had no will to correct their wrongdoings in Thu Thiem as asked by the Central Government.
Pastor Nguyen Hong Quang stressed the accusations that the local authorities are deepening in wrongdoings:
“The HCM City People’s Committee has also revealed their nature. Both Mr. Nhan (Mr. Nguyen Thien Nhan, HCM City Secretary) and Mr. Phong (Mr. Nguyen Thanh Phong, chairman of the city), instead of correcting the wrongdoings as requested by the State President and the Prime Minister, still want to keep that land to companies. In fact they have already allocated land to companies, they have already sold it. Now they keep that land, not willing to return it to the local people. In general, the People’s Committees of District 2 and Ho Chi Minh City despise the law and despise the people’s legal knowledge. They take the initiative to do what they want, but they don’t need the law anymore.”
HCM City Secretary Mr. Nguyen Thien Nhan once stated that the city government is determined to finish the settlement the Thu Thiem land issue in 2019. However, the city government has delayed the time to resolve as well as dialogue for the people of Thu Thiem, through at least 3 times of delay due to the COVID-19 epidemic and to ensure the health of the people.
Some people in Thu Thiem Dai RFA contacted and shared that they disagree with the explanation of the District 2 Government and the HCMC Government. Because, their safety is always threatened for many years, which peaked from 2016 to the present time, not as an excuse that the Ho Chi Minh City Government has declared five times that they concern for the safety of the people of Thu Thiem.
Pastor Nguyen Hong Quang cited with RFA:
“They have sent emails and text messages to threaten to throw Mr. Ca downstairs or use car accidents to kill him. As for me, last week the authorities came to my house and asked me not to post on Facebook nor go out on the street. They said that I can appeal but not go out with other land petitioners as well as a post on Facebook.”
In parallel with the delay in holding a dialogue with the people of Thu Thiem, the city government announced that it is planning to sell 61 plots of land belonging to the Thu Thiem New Urban Area project to create investment resources and return money taken in advance from the budget.
The state-controlled media of Vietnam, in early September 2020, quoted Mr. Nguyen The Minh, Head of Thu Thiem New Urban Area Construction and Investment Management Board, reported that according to the conclusion of the Government Inspector, there are 55 land plots going for an auction.
The land petitioners in Thu Thiem told RFA that they would go to Hanoi in turn to request the central government to urgently intervene to maintain the current status of the land in Thu Thiem and have to quickly and completely resolve lawfully its wrongdoings committed by the District 2 government for more than 20 years before carrying out activities related to the Thu Thiem project such as auction of land plots, for example.
The Thu Thiem people that RFA contacted on the evening of October 5, asserted how they persisted in keeping the land for the past two decades despite the illegal moves of the government of District 2 and the city. Land petitioners are still steadfast in keeping their land like that.