Vũ Quốc Ngự
On July 7, security forces in Vietnam’s central coastal province of Quang Binh violently suppressed an anti-Formosa protest of around 2,000 local residents, beating and injuring a number of demonstrators, local activists said.
Due to police’s attacks, Mr. Pham Duc, 48, suffered numerous serious injuries at his head and on body. He is currently under urgent medical treatment at the Ba Don Hospital. Mr. Hoang Van Thanh, 20, and Hoang Tan Thanh, 10, also received serious injuries on their faces.
Mr. Nguyen Van Xuan, 33, said policemen beat him at his back with batons.
All of them are Catholic followers from the Con Se parish in Quang Loc commune, Quang Trach district.
The police’s suppression started at 10.30 AM of Thursday after people from the parish rallied on local roads to demand halting Hung Nghiep Formosa steel plant owned by the Taiwanese Formosa Plastic Group. The plant discharged a huge volume of toxic waste in Vietnam’s sea water and caused environmental disaster which has killed hundreds of tons of fish in the central coastal region since early April.
The demonstrators hang their banners requesting Formosa to take actions to clean the local sea water before moving out of the central province of Ha Tinh where the steel plant is located.
Catholic priest Phero Hoang Anh Ngoi from the Con Se parish confirmed that some demonstrators were severely injured. Policemen attacked the protestors who fought back, he said.
According to a video clip posted on Internet, police fired while demonstrators threw stones at them.
There is no information about the police’s suffering from the case.
Con Se parish is a fishing village in Quang Binh as the local residents’ livelihood depends entirely on fishing activities. Their life has seriously affected when the sea was contaminated with toxic chemicals discharged by the Hung Nghiep Formosa steel plant located in the China-invested Vung Ang Economic Zone in Ha Tinh province’s Ky Anh district.
The massive fish deaths started on April 6 along 200 kilometers of the coastline in the four provinces of Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue. The environmental disaster is so serious that local fishermen cannot sell their crop due to contamination with heavy metals. Many people were reportedly to have suffered from food poisoning after eating contaminated fish.
The government has provided some rice and financial assistance to people in the affected areas, however, the support is not enough for their basic need.
On June 30, nearly three months after the disaster started, Formosa investors admitted their wrongdoing and committed to pay $500 million compensation. The government plans to use the money to support affected fishermen under the form of soft loans to help them build large-scale boats for offshore fishing and switch to other jobs.
Many experts and environmentalists said the Formosa’s compensation sum is very small, not enough for cleaning the environment in the affected areas and supporting local residents. They have also urged the permanent suspension of the Formosa steel plant to prevent further contamination.
In May-June, Vietnam’s security forces violently suppressed many peaceful anti-Formosa demonstrations of activists and environmentalists in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, beating and arresting hundreds of participants. Many detainees said they were tortured and badly treated in police’s custody.
Recently, Minister of Public Security To Lam, who took office in mid-April, requested the security forces to take tougher measures to deal with spontaneous demonstrations to ensure social disorders.
However, people in many localities continue to gather in public places to express their dissatisfaction to government socio-economic policies, especially the settlement of the environmental disaster caused by the Taiwanese company.