Hanoi villagers release one more official hostage in week-long land deadlock

By Thai Mac   April 20, 2017 | 09:05 pm PT
Hanoi villagers release one more official hostage in week-long land deadlock
Dang Van Canh (L) is released after being held hostage for six day in a lingering land dispute in Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress
He was freed on health grounds, leaving 19 other officials and police officers still in detention.

A local official in Hanoi was released on Friday after being held by disgruntled villagers since Saturday in a lingering land dispute that has grabbed international headlines, in which 38 police officers and government officials were originally taken hostage.

Dang Van Canh, the propaganda official of Hanoi's My Duc District, was escorted out of a communal house in Dong Tam Commune in the morning. 

Canh said on a speaker upon his release that he has been well treated, and he was let go as he needs to seek treatment for his bone inflammation which has been causing pains.

He called for villagers to stay calm and return to their daily life, saying the government would solve all their requests about land relocation in accordance with the law.

Canh's release is the latest development in the land dispute that has rocked the country, in which villagers took hostage 38 policemen and officials on Saturday following the police detention of four residents for violating land use registrations. They released 15 on Monday night and three others managed to escape.

Villagers say they are not resisting the government, but want officials to release all those in detention and sit down to solve the land dispute.

According to Hanoi authorities, the land dispute in the outskirt commune has been lingering for years, and escalated in February this year. Locals have been fighting for what they claim as their agriculture land while the municipal authorities said it belongs to the military.

Hanoi chairman Nguyen Duc Chung, who arrived in the commune on Thursday, said the city would investigate the land dispute over the next 45 days, asking locals to submit relevant documents.

A Government Inspectorate representative also said an investigation would be launched over the disputed land, where military-owned telecoms giant Viettel is building an airport. Hanoi has ordered Viettel and villagers to halt all work on the land pending the investigation.

Vietnam does not technically allow private land ownership but grants land-use rights, which confer the same rights as freehold status.

Land-related grievances remain the main source of concern and protests in the country. In 2012, they accounted for 70 percent of all complaints lodged against the government, according to a parliamentary report.

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