May 9, 2012
A video earlier posted on YouTube showed police and guards beating and kicking two helmeted men and hitting them with sticks during the high-profile eviction last month.
Nguyen Ngoc Nam, chief of political and economic news at the Radio Voice of Vietnam, and staff reporter Han Phi Long, came forward this week describing what happened.
Wednesday's Nong thon Ngay nay newspaper reported that Long suffered torn lips, a swollen face and chest pains and had to take two weeks off for medical treatment.
"Luckily, we were both wearing helmets, otherwise (I) don't know what the consequences could be when we suffered repeated beating on the heads by batons by those who claimed to be eviction forces," Long said.
The paper quoted Nam as saying police and guards did not stop beating even after they identified themselves as journalists.
"We are journalists, why did you beat us?" Nam was quoted as saying that he shouted at police and guards. "We are journalists doing our job, don't beat." Nam said adding police and guards did not stop but instead twisted his arms and continued beating him as a group.
The Thanh Nien newspaper reported that Nam was handcuffed and taken to a district prosecutor's office while Long went to local police to report the beating.
The two reporters and the national radio station have asked the provincial government for an explanation, but it has yet to respond, the newspaper said. Provincial officials were not available for comment Tuesday.
Land rights cases have attracted increased attention in Vietnam in recent years as farmers have been pushed off their land to make way for projects ranging from industrial parks to luxury golf courses.
In the April 24 eviction in Hung Yen province near Hanoi, about 3,000 police and militiamen, many in full riot gear, overpowered more than 1,000 villagers, witnesses say. Authorities detained 20 villagers, and five remain in custody.
A total of 166 families were evicted from 14 acres of land, part of 180 acres allocated for the second phase of the housing project.
Viet Hung Co Ltd., a private company, was awarded a contract in 2004 to develop an "Ecopark" satellite city covering 1,235 acres in three villages. More than 4,000 families are to lose their farmland.
The farmers have protested periodically in Hanoi, demanding higher compensation for their land or the cancellation of the project.
State media quoted Nguyen Khac Hao, vice governor of the province, as telling a high-level government conference last week that the provincial government has handled the case properly and accusing anti-government activists of describing the incident in a bad light.
"There was a close co-ordination between the hostile elements from both inside and outside the country ... fake video clips were created to slander and smear the government," the Nong Nghiep newspaper quoted Hao as telling the conference.