A GROUP of Vietnamese farmers said on Thursday they had sealed off their village and would resist any rescue attempts by the authorities of the more than a dozen hostages they have been holding for six days.
According to AFP (via South China Morning Post), the 20 remaining hostages, consisting of policemen and local officials, have been held since Saturday in a Dong Tam, a suburban district of Hanoi, after authorities clashed with villagers. The villagers had claimed their land had been illegally seized for sale by a military-owned telecoms firm which did not provide adequate compensation.
Initially, 38 people were taken hostage, but 15 have since been released after police also released four detained protestors. Three others escaped.
The standoff has since escalated with locals reportedly sealing off the village with barricades made from logs, sandbags and bricks, and banning outsiders from entering.
Threats have also been made to set fire to the house where the hostages are being kept if authorities make any attempt to move in.
The villagers have taken “preventative” measures, according to one female farmer, after they noticed signs police may be planning a rescue attempt.
“We poured oil around the community house where the men are being kept. We will make our move if the police attack us,” she told AFP.
She said the hostages were being treated well, being fed three meals a day.
The hostage situation is a rare sign of defiance in the authoritarian communist nation where any sign of dissent against the authorities is usually met with an abrupt and often forceful response from police.
There are, however, examples of similar acts of rebellion in recent years.
In 2012, a fish farmer was jailed for five years after he used homemade weapons in an attempt to evade eviction from a piece of land he had spent 18 years and all of his savings cultivating into an aquaculture farm.
The case of Doan Van Vuon and his family became a symbol of resistance against unwarranted land seizures in the country. Media coverage of similar defiant acts has since been limited with online references to them often being quickly removed.
Lawyer Le Luan, who went to the village to act as a mediator, said the locals “only want to have dialogues with authorities”.
“It’s hard to tell how the authorities want to solve this case,” he said.