People gather to stop a construction project in Hai Duong Province July 20, 2015, demanding better compensation for their land. Photo: Vu Ngoc Khanh
WARNING: Disturbing image below
Dramatic video footage released by a resident in Hai Duong Province showed an excavator running over a woman on Friday morning as she joined a group to protest low compensation rates from a construction project.
Local authorities, however, have denied the incident took place, saying they need to look into the video.
Le Thi Cham is being treated at a local hospital.
On Friday, more than 100 villagers in the northern province joined to stop the construction of an industrial zone in Cam Giang District, demanding better compensation for their farmland.
The video showed the torso of the woman, Le Thi Cham, pressed under its track. Others were screaming and some tried to raise the track to save her while the driver did not stop.
Locals first rushed the 54-year-old to the province’s general hospital as her right arm was broken, her skull and jaw bone cracked and her eyes were bruised.
The hospital said it transferred her to Hanoi in the afternoon as she became critical.
But sources said she has recovered and is now able to drink milk.
Footage from a video shows a woman caught under the excavator's track during the protest.
Nguyen Trong Hien, the district’s deputy police chief, dismissed the information as false.
“She couldn't have stayed alive if that happened,” Hien said at a press briefing, adding that she could have been injured by clashing with other protesters.
When questioned about the video, he said authorities will have to examine the footage to confirm its authenticity.
The industrial park in Hai Duong is set to take over 208 hectares (514 acres) of land from 1,500 families. But 115 of them are still refusing the compensation payouts offered to them.
Many residents said they have been protesting the construction from Thursday, even after many strangers appeared and threatened them with knives and needles.
The driver of the excavator (circled) apparently tries to flee the scene, being chased by some local people.
They carried out similar protests last month and in 2010.
They said the investor, a subsidiary of the joint venture developer Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Parks, offered them only VND65,000 a square meter for their lost farmland.
The money is less than a fifth of the compensation it paid farmers in a different commune.
In Vietnam, all land is owned by the state and people only receive the right to use land.
The law allows the government to revoke these rights if necessary, usually after paying compensation. Land clearance for construction often triggers conflicts and sometimes even violence.