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Elderly woman dies in police hands

75-year-old was protesting over land grabs and unpaid pension

Asia Desk, Bangkok

November 14, 2012

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An elderly woman protesting against the government’s pension scheme in Hanoi died on Monday after she was taken away by police.

Ha Thi Nhung, 75, fell down when police took her away from the protest at a public flower garden in the capital, according to sources present.

Protesters then tried to use herbal oil to treat her “but failed to save her life,” said a person at the scene who declined to be identified.

However, state-run newspapers said the victim “suffered severe flu and died suddenly.”

Nhung, a retired civil servant who was previously awarded the prestigious Resistance War Medal, travelled from her home in Thanh Hoa south of Hanoi on Thursday to meet with officials to discuss her pension after it was reportedly not paid for years.

“She had no money and had to borrow from other protesters to cover her accommodation in Hanoi,” said a source at the demonstration.

Officials in Thanh Hoa recently confiscated Nhung’s house ownership papers, according to those who knew her, another reason why she decided to join the demonstration which reportedly included other people involved in land disputes.

Last year, Vietnam recorded 4,000 similar protests over land disputes leading Nguyen Sinh Hung, chairman of the National Assembly, to admit recently that such cases “are very serious and caused by authorities making wrong decisions.”

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