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Anger increases over land disputes

Pressure mounts for more effective private ownership laws reporter, Hai Phong

January 17, 2012

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Pressure is growing on central government as a result of an increasing number of land disputes to introduce laws that will recognize private ownership. Many farmers are angry at the government for reclaiming land allocated to them for cultivation and are accusing authorities of breaking agreements allowing them to farm pieces of land for at least years. In Tien Lang district near Hai Phong city, farmers say that the government started claiming land allocated in the 1990’s back in 2004. They say many farmers invest heavily to cultivate the land but are not offered any compensation when authorities want the properties back. Anger at the government has reached a level where some farmers a resorting to violence in attempts to hang on to land which they say is rightfully theirs to cultivate. One such incident took place with a Catholic family in Tien Lang on January 5, when Peter Doan Van Vuon and several relatives used homemade guns and bombs to try and stop around 100 policemen and soldiers evicting them from a 40-hectare farm which had been allocated to them several years before. The confrontation left six of the policemen and troops wounded and the arrest of Vuon and several of his relatives. The case prompted Bishop Joseph Nguyen Van Thien of Hai Phong this week to urge authorities to reach an amicable and fair settlement to land disputes especially the one concerning Vuon and his relatives. “As well as other people of goodwill, I hope the government will resolve the dispute satisfactorily and reasonably to protect Vuon’s rights and honor,” he said. Vuon is a good Catholic and takes part in parish activities, he added. Yesterday, Vuon’s wife, Nguyen Thi Thuong, said she had petitioned the central government to denounce the invasion by district authorities of the family farm. She was prevented from tending farmland that is still under the family’s control, she said. Related reports: Catholics urged to remain calm  
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