Authorities ask police to probe "naked' protest against land eviction

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Authorities in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho Wednesday asked police to investigate the case in which a woman and her daughter took their clothes off to protest their family's eviction.

The police has also been asked to punish involved people.

At a press conference that day, Le Thanh Tam, deputy chairman of the Cai Rang District People's Committee, said local authorities had followed regulations in revoking over 3,000 square meters of Pham Thi Lai's family and awarding it to the Hung Phu New Urban project, VnExpress reported.

He said the investor, Investment and Construction Joint Stock Company (CIC8) No.8, had offered the family 3.3 times the regulated compensation, but they had refused to accept it and had returned to their land many times to put up tents there.

That they interfered in the construction by taking off their clothes was "against traditional customs," and needs to be handed over to police for investigation and punishment, Tam said.

By letting her son film the scenes as she and her daughter, 33-year-old Ho Nguyen Thuy, took off their clothes and were forcefully dragged away by security guards on May 22, Lai's family had intended to apply pressure on the investor and local authorities, he added.

The official also asked police to clarify violations by the six security guards, including two women, because it was "unacceptable" that they used force to drag away two women with no clothes on.

Mai Hong Chau, chairman of Cai Rang District's People's Committee, said the compensation that CIC8 offered to the family will not be increased and that the authorities will try to convince them to accept it.

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If they continue to disturb the construction, they will be punished in accordance with laws, Chau said.

According to the district authorities, the city's People's Committee had approved compensations for the project's site clearance ten years ago and increased it in January 2005, which gave Lai's family over VND292 million (US$14,000).

The family was also offered a 120-square meter plot of land, VND100 million ($4,700) for building a house and a 150-square meter land for relocation.

But they rejected the offer and filed complaints with different agencies, authorities said.

In August 2008, the Cai Rang District Land Development Center, in cooperation with CIC8 held a meeting with Lai's family, and offered to pay them over VND1.2 billion ($57,500). However, the family once again refused it and asked for more.

After failing to convince them, the center, together with the investor, deposited the compensation in a bank account.

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