Men in uniform beat reporters covering land protest

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Báo Tuổi Trẻ English - 32 month(s) ago 10 readings

Men in uniform beat reporters covering land protest

Two reporters from the Radio Voice of Vietnam (VOV) said they were beaten up by men in police uniform while trying to report a protest against a land eviction in the northern province of Hung Yen late last month.

nha bao Two reporters from the Radio Voice of Vietnam claim that they are attacked by police officers while trying to report a protest against a land withdrawal in the northern province of Hung Yen on April 24, 2012. Photo: VnExpress

On May 8, a representative of VOV confirmed that two of their reporters, Nguyen Ngoc Nam, 42, chief of political news, and staff reporter Han Phi Long, 33, had been assigned to report the protest.

On May 3, VOV sent an official document to the director of the Public Security Department in Hung Yen Province to suggest that he verify the case, but the organization has yet to receive a reply.

Also on May 8 Nguyen Xuan Hieu, Chief of the Secretariat of Hung Yen’s Public Security Department, told VnExpress that they have received the document from VOV, but he declined to comment further.

On April 24, when the protest took place, a video posted on YouTube showed many men in police uniform and other plainclothed men repeatedly beating two helmeted men, with little resistance from the victims.

Nam told VnExpress that when he and Long stood by a cultural house near a paddy field that was to be withdrawn to watch the protest, several men in police uniform and others kicked and hit them with sticks.

Nam then shouted at them that: “We’re journalists, don’t beat us”, but the men in police uniform did not stop and continued to beat him and twist his arms.

Afterwards, Nam was handcuffed and taken to Hung Yen’s People’s Procuracy when he had his cell phone, Press Card, Party Member card, and membership card of the Vietnam Lawyers’ Association seized by police.

On the evening of April 24, Nam and Long were sent back to VOV. Nam then lodged a petition to the director of Hung Yen’s Public Security Department asking him to clarify who carred out the attack against him and other journalists who had been involved in the attack on the same day. Nam also asked them to compensate for his health and honor.

Bui Huy Thanh, chief of the Secretariat of the provincial People’s Committee said: “If the two VOV reporters’ accusations are true, the province’s authorities will certainly consider the case.”

On April 24, twenty farmers were arrested in Van Giang District after using stones and bottles of petrol to attack the local police force, which helped keep order during the forced removal by local authorities to withdraw 5.8 hectares of land from 166 households.

The eviction was approved by the party committee secretary and the chairman of people’s committee of Hung Yen province. More than 1,000 police and security guards of different sectors have been mobilized for the eviction.

The 166 households, which are among the 1,720 households to be affected by the project to build the Van Giang Commercial and Service Urban Area (Ecopark), were forced to withdraw from their 72ha of land since they had not agreed to hand over their land to the investor, although the project was approved by the Prime Minister in 2004, Thanh added.

Nguyen Khac Hao, deputy chairman of the Hung Yen People’s Committee, sent a report to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on May 2, claming that “The land force eviction was ’safe’ and no one was injured”. He also accused reactionary forces at home and abroad of arranging a fake clip to slander and blacken the name of the people’s government, but he did not point out the specific clip.

Hao also commented that state press agencies were slow to react and only delivered a few propagandistic news items about the forced land eviction, while social networking sites updated quickly and reacted rapidly.

Earlier, Bui Huy Thanh, chief of the Secretariat of the provincial People’s Committee, did not allow journalists and reporters to be present at the area of the forced land eviction to “ensure perfect safety” for them.

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