On April 24, 2012, the Vietnamese Communist Government organized a force of more than 3,000 local, civilian, and riot police alongside a multitude of government officials. The purpose: to execute a mass land eviction.

The area under siege was located across three small towns: Cuu Cao, Phung Cong and Xuan Quang in Hung Yen province. The government’s original plan was backed and proposed by a private company which aimed to build a satellite city located in the midst of the three villages. In the original plan, the compensation price listed for the farmers was a mere 135000 dong (around $6.75 USD). The government would then sell back the land to the hopeful “city builders” for 6000000 Dong (around $300 USD).

Initial negotiations between the government and the farmers took place many years ago but on April 24, 2012, the government changed its tune, terminating all negotiations and instead carrying out a mass land eviction.  The entire process was executed within two and a half hours, from 7 AM to 10:30 AM, with the help of more than 3000 “police” who threw tear gas and stun grenades and used extensive physical force against anyone who was not a police or government official.

As reported by blogger Nguyen Lan Thang, “the police fired tear gas at the civilians like rain… In just a few minutes, they had already finished many boxes of tear gas ammunition… After they fired more than 20 shots of tear gas, they retreated back to the middle of Phung Cong field and waited for round 2 reinforcement.” In the electronic world of today, some of the events described were of course documented via video footage (see citations below, though some may soon mysteriously disappear.)

During the brutal eviction, two reporters from Radio Voice of Vietnam (a state-run radio station) found themselves the victims of police beatings as well as of assault with stun grenades at close range. Immediately following the event however, there were absolutely no reports in the regular media regarding the incident, due to heavy government regulation.

But afterwards, documentation has begun to surface, and even the Vietnamese government has not been able to extinguish every fire that has sprung up across the media world, though they continue in the attempt.

On May 9th, for example, The Youth Newspaper, one of the most popular state-run newspapers in Vietnam, reported the story of the two reporters who found themselves at the un-tender mercies of Vietnamese forces during the incident. The newspaper claimed that the reporters were attacked even after they identified themsleves as journalists.  What they did not realize, of course, is that their status as journalists was the reason for the attack.

This one story notwithstanding, government efforts to silence the media have proceeded apace. An estimate of at least six articles were taken down and many more articles were heavily edited compared to their originals. This is just the latest in the Communist government’s attempts to continue to limit severely freedom of the press in Vietnam.

For more information (with using google translation from Vietnamese to English):

http://www.nguoi-viet.com/absolutenm2/templates/viewarticlesNVO.aspx?articleid=148756&zoneid=1

http://tuoitre.vn/Chinh-tri-Xa-hoi/491070/Vu-danh-nha-bao-Nguoi-trong-cuoc-len-tieng.html

http://www.nguoi-viet.com/absolutenm2/templates/viewarticlesNVO.aspx?articleid=147803&zoneid=1

For more information available in english:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/25/world/asia/vietnam-land-dispute-sets-off-clash.html?_r=1

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/24/us-vietnam-clash-idUSBRE83N0AV20120424

http://www.indexoncensorship.org/2012/05/vietnam-reporters-beaten/

Video of the incident can be found in these following links:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyhHw4fomIc&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=l2Vz3JitfLk