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District fines women for naked protest

Mother, daughter say they had no choice in bid to save their land

  • ucanews.com reporter, Can Tho
  • Vietnam
  • June 21, 2012
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Authorities in Cai Rang district this week fined two women for obstructing construction workers on their land by staging a naked protest.

Mai Hong Chau, chairperson of the People’s Committee of Cai Rang district, said Pham Thi Lai and her daughter would be fined 1.5 million dong (US$75) for obstructing workers and an additional 80,000 dong for doing so in the nude.

Lai and her 33-year-old daughter disrobed on May 22 in a bid to block workers from beginning construction on what they say is 3,000 square meters of land that they own.

Local media reported that employees of the construction company dragged the women from the site.

Le Thanh Tam, vice president of the district, told local media that the naked protest aimed to make authorities look bad.

“Lai and her daughter taking off their clothes to obstruct the construction and letting her son video the scene was a deliberate attempt to place the company and the government under pressure,” he said.

He added that the two women shouted and threw sand at company employees.

The government decided in 2005 to revoke Lai’s ownership of the land for the project and offered 292 million dong in compensation, which Lai refused.

Lai further refused a second offer of 1.2 billion dong in 2010 and asked for 3 billion dong to give up the land.

In December last year, the government revoked Lai’s ownership and deposited her compensation in a local bank account. Lai’s husband subsequently attempted suicide in protest over the action.

Local media last month quoted Lai in defense of her naked protest as saying that her land “was arrogated in an illegal and dubious way.”

She added: “It took us a long time of toil and sweat to save money to buy this land on which we built our house, cultivate our crops and raise chickens for a living for decades.”

Lai said the company had offered compensation without their agreement, while local government used armed personnel to remove them from their land.

“We had no choice but to be naked to protest them, although we feel disgraced,” she said.

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