Vietnamese police officers stand guard beside boxes of confiscated elephant ivory and rhino horn in Hanoi, Vietnam, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. (Photo by AP)
Villagers in Vietnam's capital on Monday were holding more than 30 people, most of them policemen, over a land dispute in a rare defiance of the communist government.
The standoff began over the weekend in My Duc, a district of Hanoi, when police clashed with villagers who allege their land was illegally seized for sale by a military-run telecommunications firm. Some villagers were arrested.
Social activist La Viet Dung said Monday that villagers were still holding more than 30 people, including over 20 Hanoi riot police, as well as local policemen and officials. He said authorities asked the villagers to release them but they refused to do so.
The Online newspaper Vnexpress quoted a villager identified only as Loan as saying, "The policemen have been given sufficient food and drinks by us and are being treated politely."
Another villager was quoted as saying, "It's the desire of the villagers that land taken back must be conducted in accordance with regulations."
Lawyer Tran Vu Hai told The Associated Press that Hanoi Mayor Nguyen Duc Chung, in a phone call Monday morning, assured village representatives that the remaining six villagers who had been detained had been released. He also pledged to hold direct talks on Tuesday to address their grievances."
The people here are very angry," Hai said. "They told me frankly that they do not believe in anyone, (because) they have been cheated for so many years."
Hai said the village he visited Monday morning appeared to be calm.
Land disputes are common in Vietnam, where residents often claim that their land taken for infrastructure or other industrial or residential projects is not properly compensated.