On Trial And Split Apart, Vietnamese Clan Defiant


VINH QUANG, Vietnam (AP) â¿¿ The broken bricks and roof tiles of Doan Van Vuon's house, bulldozed by Vietnamese authorities trying to evict him, lie next to his relatives' new home, a shack of bamboo and corrugated iron that testifies to their perseverance.

Vuon and three male relatives have been detained for more than a year and are now on trial, accused of protecting their prawn and fish farm with shotgun blasts and homemade mines that injured seven police and army officers.

They became folk heroes of a sort in this nation of autocratic rule, limited land rights and steep inequities. Their defiance is still heard in the voices of the women they were forced to leave behind.

"No one wanted to cause such a mess," said Vuon's wife, Nguyen Thi Thuong. "But we had to resist. We had no other way but fighting back for what rightfully belongs to us."

Forced evictions such as the one the Vuon family fended off in violent fashion are a leading driver of anger against the one-party Communist state. The government has admitted making mistakes in the family's well publicized case and has allowed Vuon's relatives to stay on the property, but it also has been stepping up prosecutions of those who oppose its grip on power.

Outside court Tuesday in the northern city of Haiphong, the force of the state was on display.

Hundreds of police ringed the courtroom, ripping down posters held up by demonstrators supporting the family. Officers dragged away at least six people. Plainclothes security officers forcefully deleted recordings from the camera of an AP Television cameraman. Buses carrying protesters were stopped from even reaching the city.

Pham Hong Son, a well-known dissident and former political prisoner, led protesters who were stopped around 100 meters from the courtroom.

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