Vietnam arrests 20 after massive land clashes

Vietnamese police have arrested 20 people after hundreds of farmers clashed with police in a protest over a disputed plot of land near the capital city of Hanoi on Tuesday.

Between 2,000 and 4,000 heavily armed riot police used tear gas and clubs to break up the protest and evict farmers camped out in Van Giang district of Hung Yen province in an attempt to keep the authorities and private developers away from the site, the BBC reports.

A private firm, Viet Hung Co Ltd, has been trying since 2004 to develop a satellite city that would cover 500 hectares of land in the area.

According to the Associated Press, more than 4,000 families will lose their farmland, and residents say the compensation offered – about $1,700 for every 360 square meter plot of land – is inadequate, accusing officials of corruption.

Land rights disputes with local authorities are becoming an increasingly contentious issue in Communist-ruled Vietnam, where the state owns all land and usage rights are not always clear or protected, the Agence France Presse reports.

Tuesday’s incident comes three months after a fish farmer in the northern port city of Hai Phone made headlines when he used homemade land mines and improvised shotguns to try to stop the authorities seizing his land and evicting his family. 

More from GlobalPost: Vietnam land reform - farmer fights land seizure Scarface-style