Dong Tam Prisoners Sent to New Jails Far From Home

Twelve villagers serving prison terms for their roles in a violent land-rights clash in Dong Tam outside Hanoi last year have been transferred from their former prison to detention centers far from their homes, placing a new burden on family members hoping to visit, sources say.

Dong Tam village elder Le Dinh Kinh, 84, was shot and killed by police during the Jan. 9, 2020 raid on the village by 3,000 security officers intervening in a long-running dispute over a military airport construction site about 25 miles south of the capital.

Kinh’s sons, Le Dinh Chuc and Le Dinh Cong, were sentenced to death on Sept. 14 in connection with the deaths of three police officers who were killed in the clash, with other punishments handed out by the court including a life term in prison and other sentences ranging from six years to 15 months of probation.

On April 23, twelve of those receiving jail terms in the case were transferred to new facilities far distant from their homes in Hanoi, one family member told RFA.

Le Dinh Doanh, now serving a life term, was sent by authorities to the Yen Ha detention center in the mountainous province of Son La, said Doanh’s younger sister-in-law Nguyen Thi Duyen, who visited him at his new camp on Tuesday.

“His health is OK, but he looks a bit thin compared to how he was when I saw him at his appeal trial [in March],” Duyen said, adding that Doanh complained of soreness in his eyes and said he had contracted malaria because of the unsanitary conditions at Yen Ha.

“He said that he’s already getting better, though,” Duyen said, adding that her father Le Dinh Cong and uncle Le Dinh Chuc, both sentenced to death, are still being held at the No. 2 detention center in Thuong Tin district in Hanoi.

Others also moved

Doanh’s brothers Nguyen Quoc Tien and Bui Viet Hieu have meanwhile been transferred to the mountainous northern province of Yen Bai and central province of Nghe An, while Le Dinh Kinh’s adopted daughter Bui Thi Noi was moved to Bac Giang, a city in the country’s northeast, Duyen said she was told.

“Everyone has been transferred to a new detention center and has been separated from each other,” she said.

Duyen said Doanh told her he would try now to adjust to his new place of confinement and “not to be intimidated there,” adding that he has also promised to work for a reduction in his sentence so that he can return home as soon as possible.

On Friday, Duyen said, she and other family members will visit Cong and Chuc at their detention camp in Thuong Tin. Both men have refused to appeal their death sentences for murder, declaring themselves innocent of the crime.

While all land in Vietnam is ultimately held by the state, land confiscations have become a flashpoint as residents accuse the government of pushing small landholders aside in favor of lucrative real estate projects, and of paying too little in compensation to farming families displaced by development.

Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Anna Vu. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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