Nghe An: Hundreds of police officers deployed to support road destruction, and five protesters arrested

Riot police with shields and batons suppressed people protesting against the demolition of residential roads in Nghi Thuan commune, Nghi Loc district, Nghe An province on July 13, 2022

At least five people were arrested by the police and some were injured in a confrontation between local people and riot police on the morning of July 13, 2022, in Nghi Thuan commune, Nghi Loc district, Nghe An province. Local residents who witnessed the incident confirmed this news to a reporter from Radio Free Asia.

An eyewitness to the incident told Radio Free Asia reporter on condition of anonymity via text message as follows:

There were about 1,000 riot policemen, policemen wearing police uniforms and plain clothes, while the number of people participating in the protest was about three hundred people. About 10 people were arrested and beaten, including an elderly man and a woman who was severely beaten and taken away when the police came to their houses. One policeman suffered a minor injury.”

According to information from local people, the Nghe An provincial government has mobilized police, including riot police and many policemen in plain clothes, into the area of ​​Nghi Thuan commune, Nghi Loc district to protect the destruction of the road connecting Khanh Thien hamlet to N5 road.

According to local people, this road has existed for a long time, but now the government wants to demolish it to allocate land for the industrial park, but the local people do not agree.

Hundreds of riot police armed with batons, shields using barbed wire, and steel frames block the road while workers destroy it.

Being informed, hundreds of people in the commune, mainly Catholic followers from Binh Thuan parish, flocked to the area of ​​the barbed wire fence and tried to remove this fence to reach the road-breaking area.

A parishioner named Nguyen Van Hien of Binh Thuan parish told RFA:

The two sides are pushing each other. People opened the police barricades to get to the part of the road that was being demolished. Police used tear gas and people ran in chaos. The police arrested a few people and I don’t know where they were taken now.”

In videos broadcast live on the social network Facebook of local people, people removed the fence and the two sides pushed each other.

A mobile policeman was dragged away by the people and punched and kicked, in the opposite direction many people were also attacked and arrested by the police.

Riot police fired professional explosives, and tear gas grenades and pushed people to the middle of the village, some people used petrol bombs to throw at the police force.

Father Nguyen Dinh Thuc, who is from Binh Thuan parish but works as a pastor of a nearby parish, said he saw a lot of policemen on his way home to visit after the morning service. He told Radio Free Asia:

Relatives said that when they heard that the road was closed, people went up to protest and were brutally beaten by riot police and other police officers in uniform and civilians.

The police used both tear gas, smoke bombs, and light weapons, perhaps paper bullets… then the riot police pulled into the village and into the homes of some families such as Mr. Luat, Mr. Canh, and Mr. Luat. Mr. Nam and Mrs. Binh beat the people.

They even climbed upstairs to beat the people up there, even the elderly 60-70 years of age. They beat them brutally and took away five people whose fates are unclear.”

He said police remained stationed in the communal area for hours after the protesters were dispersed.

Police confiscated dozens of motorbikes, electric bikes, and bicycles from people at the scene.

According to local people, some local people were seriously injured but no one could go out of the village to seek medical help because the entire area was blocked off by the police.

Citing information from a leader of the Nghi Loc district, the Giao Thong Online newspaper on July 13 said that the functional forces of Nghe An province are completing the demolition work of the old residential road running from National Highway 7C through the WHA Industrial Park to Nghi Thuan commune, and in the process of defending the demolition of the road, several mobile policemen were attacked and injured by some extremists.

This newspaper also wrote that the police force arrested a number of people for attacking and injuring the on-duty forces.

To find out more information about the incident on the morning of July 13, a reporter from Radio Free Asia called Mr. Dang Thanh Tung – Chief of the Office of the People’s Committee of Nghe An province, but after hearing the reporter’s self-introduction, he hung up.

All attempts to call the Chairman of the Provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Duc Trung and Standing Vice Chairman Le Hong Vinh and agencies such as the People’s Committee and the Nghi Loc District Police were unsuccessful.

We emailed the People’s Committees of Nghe An province and Nghi Loc district and some local leaders but did not receive an immediate reply.

The industrial park and residential road

According to the state-controlled media, the destroyed road is about 520 meters long and about 3.5 m wide in the planning project of phase 1 of the 498-hectare WHA Industrial Zone 1 project, which was approved by the prime minister in 2017 and implemented by a Thai business.

The government believes that this trail runs through the industrial park, so it is necessary to remove it to serve the synchronous connection between the land plots for factory construction and the plots for the construction of drainage works.

At the end of 2019, WHA Industrial Zone Nghe An Joint Stock Company built a bypass road with its investment to replace the above-mentioned residential road, with a road surface width of 6.5 meters and reinforced concrete, the curb is one meter wide on each side as well as street lights and green trees.

However, people do not agree with this option because of the road that locals have used for more than 100 years. Now, if they go on the new road built by a private business, when it wants not to allow people to use, the local people can’t do anything. They also suspect that the local government wants to destroy the old road because it has another plan to take all land on which the people in Nghi Thuan commune are living now to give it for the industrial park expansion.

Map of WH Industrial Park, residential area, and surrounding roads

According to priest Nguyen Dinh Thuc, on May 20, the Nghi Loc district held a dialogue with the people of Nghi Thuan commune at the hall of the commune People’s Committee to ask people’s opinions on the closure of the route from N5 road. to Khanh Thien hamlet.

About 20 people interviewed were against the closure of roads for many different reasons.

One of the reasons that people do not agree to use the bypass road instead is because this road belongs to a private firm.

People feel unsafe walking on this road because this business has very high iron and steel fences, and this business can close or block the road when it wants.

Also in this meeting, the government side confirmed that it had consulted the people and named the names of some people who had signed it. However, the people with the name objected, saying that they had never discussed the road and approved converting the road of people living for hundreds of years into company land.

After this meeting, the local government has not mentioned the road before sending the police to force the closure of the road on July 13. (Translated)