About 100 people who were suddenly evicted as a result of the demolitions that took place in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City in a two-day operation on Jan. 4 and Jan. 8 have gone to the offices of the city government, the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) and the national assembly to submit a petition pleading their case.
Authorities demolished at least 112 houses in a parcel of land claimed by the Catholic Church, where they had lived. Among the displaced residents of the Tan Binh district’s Loc Hung Vegetable Garden settlement are political dissidents and veterans of the former Army of South Vietnam, sources say.
Their petition was refused by the city’s CPV office and the national assembly office.
“We went to the city’s people’s committee office and they took our petition,” said Cao Ha Thanh to RFA’s Vietnamese Service over the phone on Thursday evening.
Cao had visited the three offices earlier in the day.
“We went there many times over the past few decades to ask for our rights to the land, and they had never answered our previous demands,” said Cao.
Cao said that after visiting the national assembly office, one official came to meet them to say there was not anything the government could do on their behalf.
“We [then] went to the party’s office but when we got closer to the building, they closed the gate. I tried to tell them about our situation but they refused to take our petition,” said Cao.
RFA attempted to contact the three offices by telephone. The national assembly office answered, but refused to answer questions over the phone.
Residents of the community posted the petition in a Facebook group they set up saying that more than 100 families had signed it. The petition says that they were affected directly and have suffered losses as a result of the forced evictions.
In the petition they asked relevant officials of the three offices to uphold their rights, demanded that Tan Binh district authorities stop illegal evictions, and demanded transparency and proper compensation for their losses.
State media on Thursday quoted a letter sent from Vietnam’s Ministry of Natural Resources to their city-level counterpart in Ho Chi Minh as saying that the residents were only borrowing the land to cultivate vegetables, so they have no land rights, and are therefore not entitled to compensation.
Officials from Tan Binh district on Sunday told state media they offered about 7 million Vietnamese dong (about $300) per square meter of land and 4-6 million dong (about $170-$260) per month for a period of three months to those families who lost their vegetables as a result of the eviction.
The Sai Gon Giai Phong newspaper reported on Tuesday that 30 of the families of Loc Hung had received this support.
While all land in Vietnam is ultimately held by the state, land confiscations have become a flashpoint as residents accuse the government of pushing small landowners aside in favor of lucrative real estate projects, and of paying too little in compensation to those whose land is taken.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Eugene Whong.