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Land seizure and resistance by fish farmer Doan Van Vuon, Hai Phong, Vietnam

Fish farmer Doan Van Vuon became a folk hero after defending his land with homemade weapons against seizure by local authorities.


Fish farmer Doan Van Vuon and his family had spent 18 years and all their savings to turn an unproductive swampland into an aquaculture farm. It was a hard process, during which their daughter and nephew had drowned, and during which the family had become heavily indebted. While after years of work and investment, the fish farm had turned into a viable business, everything changed suddenly, when in 2007 governmental plans appeared to turn the area into a residential zone and an international airport. The local authorities claimed the land back without offering compensation [1;2;3;4;5].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Land seizure and resistance by fish farmer Doan Van Vuon, Hai Phong, Vietnam
State or province:Hai Phon
Location of conflict:Vinh Quang, Tiên Lãng district
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Urban development conflicts
Ports and airport projects
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

According to newspapers, the local authorities seized the land due to a planned construction of residential zones and an international airport [1]. The project has not yet materialized.

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Project area:40ha
Level of Investment for the conflictive projectN/A
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:2 families
Start of the conflict:2007
Relevant government actors:Tien Lang District People’s Committee
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Tien Lang Aquatic Product Cultivation Association; Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Vietnam
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Religious groups
Urban bloggers
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Boycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Threats to use arms
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Food insecurity (crop damage), Noise pollution
Potential: Air pollution, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession
Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Criminalization of activists
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
Proposal and development of alternatives:There has been large public movement and support to return the land to the fish farmer; which however has not been the case.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Land dispossession went on in spite of unlawful evictions
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Vietnamese Land Law of 2013 (Land Law No.45/2013/QH13)
[click to view]

Vietnamese Land Law of 2003 (No. 13/2003/QH11)
[click to view]

Decree No. 22/1998/NĐ-CP (1998) on compensations for damage when the state recovers land for use in purposes of national defense, security, national interests and public interests
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[2] Hansen, 2013. Land Law, Land Rights, and Land Reform in Vietnam: A Deeper Look into “Land Grabbing” for Public and Private Development. SIT Graduate Institute.
[click to view]

[8] Andrew Wells-Dang, Pham Quang Tu and Adam Burke (2015). Agrarian Change and Land Tenure in Vietnam through a Political Economy Lens. Conference Paper No. 45 - Land grabbing, conflict and agrarian ‐ environmental transformations: perspectives from East and Southeast Asia
[click to view]

[1] Huffingtonpost online (02/10/2012): "Doan Van Vuon, Vietnam Farmer, A National Hero After Shootout With Police"
[click to view]

[3] RFA News online (10/04/2013): "Vietnam Punishes Officials for Botched Raid on Fish Farm"
[click to view]

[4] BBC News online (02/04/2013): "Vietnam land eviction trial begins"
[click to view]

[5] The Wall Street Journal online (05/04/2013): "Vietnamese Folk Hero Gets Five-Year Sentence"
[click to view]

[6] online (27/03/2014): "Hero who fought forced evictions jailed and fined"
[click to view]

[7] Inside Story online (23/03/2012): "Vietnam’s high-profile land dispute"
[click to view]

[9] RFA News online (05/02/2015): "Vietnamese Seeking Justice Plan to Spend Tet in Hanoi"
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:A. Scheidel (ICTA-UAB)
Last update16/07/2015
Conflict ID:2042
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