Official beats woman in farming conflict in northern Vietnam

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Authorities in Lang Son Province in northern Vietnam are going to ask police to investigate a commune chairman for beating a local woman after she had an argument with his son.

Ha Xuan Quang, Party secretary of Cao Loc District, told Tien Phong on July 24 that the district will ask Ly Viet Thinh, chairman of Yen Trach Commune, to issue a report on the incident.

"It's unacceptable that a government official had a physical fight with a resident," Quang said.

Thinh beat Nguyen Thi Chi, 35, until she passed out on July 9, the woman told Tien Phong on Monday.

She broke a finger and suffered a laceration on her head which required four stitches, according to doctors at a general hospital.

Chi said Thinh had beaten her with a cane, but the man only admitted to slapping her twice.

"If it was just slaps, how could my head get torn and my finger broken?" Chi said.

She said Cao Loc District police had collected her bloodied hat at the scene and a cane which had been broken into halves.

The woman said Thinh's son Ly Chien Thuat, deputy police chief of Yen Trach Commune, had stopped her husband and children from carrying a corn harvest past Thuat's house.

Thuat pointed a knife at her husband and threatened to cut him if he passed. Then Chi spoke up and started an argument with the son, which ended with her being beaten.

Thinh also beat her 11-year-old daughter who was there, she said.

Both sides said there has been a conflict over farmland between the two families for several months.

Chi's family is under the official poverty line. Their small rice field only makes enough money to pay for food eight months a year. The parents earn extra money by working at local construction sites, selling small logs from nearby forests and by working for bigger farm owners nearby.

Since her injuries, her two children, 13 and 11, have been doing the jobs.

Dang Kieu Van, chairwoman of Lang Son Women's Association, said the association had asked the city government to protect the woman's rights.

Chi told Tien Phong that Thinh's wife, Dam Thi Thuc, had visited her on Sunday, saying she would give VND6 million (US$288) to treat her injuries, on the condition that she file no complaints against Thinh.

The wife also warned Chi that the bad-tempered Thinh could make things worse otherwise.

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