Vietnam: Police Officers Held Hostage Over Land Dispute, 15 Released

In Vietnam, villagers held 20 police officers hostage over a land dispute. The protest and land dispute began in My Duc, a district of Hanoi. 15 police officers that were being held hostage were released by residents. Three others escaped from the villagers, who are still holding 20 police officers hostage.

15 police officers were released and three others escaped but 20 more are still being held hostage over the land dispute. News site VnExpress reported yesterday that authorities were trying to negotiate the release of the other 20 police officers. Residents of My Duc are not happy with the news that the government is planning to sell land there, which they say is theirs. The dispute began a while ago and the government is planning to sell the land to a telecommunications firm.

The residents protested over the plans and police officers were held hostage. Authorities, who say the villagers do not own the land, clashed with some of the residents and a few were arrested in the protest. After the arrests, the villagers took the police officers hostage. The villagers asked for the people arrested in the protest to be released. 38 police officers were taken hostage after the arrests but 15 were released shortly after. Three other police officers escaped.

The lawyer helping the villagers told the AP that the people here are very angry. He added that the people told him that they do not trust anyone because they have been cheated for years.

The Mayor of Hanoi Nguyen Duc Chung was ordered to hold talks with the farmers to end the dispute. The police officers have been held hostage for a few days and VnExpress was told by a villager that the officers had been given sufficient food and drink and that they are being treated politely.

Authorities say people are breaking the law by protesting since they do not own the land. Some of the villagers arrested in the clashes have been released. The Deputy Police Chief of Hanoi has said that the release of the people arrested is not part of an agreement with the villagers. Four villagers were arrested in the clashes that began over the weekend.