Over 30 notable Vietnamese intellectuals on Tuesday officially denounced the killing at the hands of police of an elderly community leader at Hanoi’s Dong Tam commune during land dispute protests Jan. 9.
Le Dinh Kinh, 84 was shot and killed by police who swarmed his home in a 4:00 a.m. assault on the commune that involved about 3,000 security officers from the police and armed forces.
The group filed their denouncement by delivering it to the Supreme People’s Procuracy of Vietnam and the Hanoi Police Department.
The denouncement additionally called for a transparent investigation into Le’s killing. It noted that many Vietnamese citizens are aware of the killing because of video footage posted on Facebook and information from sources in the ministry of public security.
Nguyen Quang A, one of the six people who delivered the denouncement, told RFA’s Vietnamese Service that the people must demand accountability from their government.
“I think that Vietnamese people must raise their concern about Dong Tam, requiring transparent information from [the] government,” he said.
“[The] government must cooperate with an independent investigation under the surveillance of the press, social organizations, and Vietnamese citizens,” Nguyen added.
“We know the fight for justice for Dong Tam will be long and drawn out, but we are determined to see it through to the end,” he said.
Nguyen also posted a short video on his Facebook account that showed the group delivering the denouncement. It was received by a female representative of the procuracy, but a uniformed man who was present at the time appeared to be visibly uncomfortable.
“According to law, citizens are allowed to denounce [criminal activity] under Article 144 of the Vietnamese Criminal Procedure Code [of 2015],” said Nguyen.
“Those who killed Le Dinh Kinh on Jan. 9 are criminals, so we are implementing our rights as citizens to denounce their wrongdoings to higher-level organizations. Therefore, this case must be investigated and prosecuted,” Nguyen said.
Le Phu Khai, a former journalist for Voice of Hanoi, told RFA that when so many citizens know of Le Dinh Kinh’s killing and others like it, government cover-ups are more difficult.
“People in the country know about the Dong Tam tragedy. It’s been all over [independent civil society website] the Bauxite page, which has highlighted many stories about this,” said Le Phu Khai.
“The truth is the true and no one can simply erase it,” Le added.
The Dong Tam tragedy was the latest flare-up of a long-running dispute over a military airport construction site near the capital.
Police attacked first in the deadly clash that claimed the lives of Le Dinh Kinh and three police officers, though, a report drawn from witness accounts and released last week by journalists and activists says, contradicting official accounts.
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 those whose land is taken.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Huy Le. Written in English by Eugene Whong.