A few figures about the forced land seizure in Van Giang district
Pham Quang Tuan
A few figures will help us understand why the people of Van Giang risked their lives to keep their land.
According vneconomy.vn [i] , the developed land is being sold at 20 million VND/m2 for apartments and 45 million VND/m2 for villas and townhouses ($1000-2000 USD/m2), including basic building structures. Meanwhile, according to the BBC quoting the local government of Hung Yen province, people are "compensated" at a rate of 135,000 VND/m 2 (6 USD/m2) [ii].
According vneconomy.vn [iii] "the remaining 166 households occupying 5.8 hectares have refused compensation and had to undergo forced seizure". It means that each household owned an average of 349 m2 of land and if "compensated" at the government rate each would receive about 2100 USD (not much more than a year’s income for an average Vietnamese worker)! How will they live on that? If they resort to begging or robbery whose fault would it be?
According to the BBC [iv] "[the investing company] said that since the project was approved by the Vietnamese government in June 2004, Viet Hung company has spent 200 billion Vietnam dong, equivalent to 10 million USD, to support the three communes Phung Cong, Cuu Cao, Xuan Quan, whose 5,000 households operated an area of approximately 500 hectares." From that it can be worked out that each household received about 2,000 USD (assuming that corrupt officials hadn’t appropriated a sizable part), which is consistent with the previous estimates. The total investment in the Ecopark project is about 8 billion US dollars, or 800 times the amount spent on compensation mentioned above.
According to vnecomony.vn [v] , the Van Giang district is just over 10 km from the centre of Hanoi, with some parts only 9 km away. This is therefore practically a risk-free investment and land prices should be calculated according to suburban land rates rather than agricultural land rates. However, the disappropriated Van Giang landowners not only did not benefit from the increased value of their ancestral land, but were deprived from their livelihood and left practically empty-handed.
In short, this was a terrible injustice, a brazen daylight robbery. It was no different from the grabbing of land from the American Indians and Australian indigenous people in past centuries by white people, except that the U.S. and Australian-English governments were not explicitly complicit in or even masterminding these brazen robberies, in contrast to the Vietnamese government whose role is shown in the following statement of the Hung Yen authorities after they carried out the land seizure [vi] :
"In complete compliance with the direction of the Government, under the direct leadership in the field of the Secretary of Provincial Party Committee and of the Chairman of the Provincial People's Committee, the Provincial Authorities [and] the forces carrying out the construction works and land law enforcement of Van Giang district, with the support of the Ministry of Public Security and of the Provincial Police, have successfully carried out their plans, absolutely ensuring the personal safety and property of the people and of the forces participating in the construction work and land seizure. By 10:30 the protestors have broken up their ranks and returned to their homes. The security situation in the province is stable and orderly. The investors have completed their task and accepted delivery of the land at 16:30.
"In the course of construction support and forced seizure of the land in Xuan Quan village, we have complied exactly with the spirit of the Government’s directives and ensured absolute safety for people and facilities. We have obtained widespread and unanimous support from officials, Party members and the people of Van Giang district and particularly from those of Xuan Quan village. "
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