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Second Complaint, 2000504

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Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Independence - Freedom - Happiness

Supplemented Petition

(regarding the wrongful exploitation of land of the hamlet of D, Buon Ma Thuot City, Dak Lak Province)

We are 644 individuals, in excess of 113 households, constituting all of the Ede people of the hamlet of D, Buon Ma Thuot City, Dak Lak Province. We make the following supplemental resolution:

Since long before liberation in 1975, we have lived and worked on the land of D village. In 1985, in accordance with the decisions of the City of Buon Ma Thuot on relocation, we moved to a new settlement. At that time Comrade [name withheld], the first secretary of the Communist Party in D Village, personally was in charge and he promised us that the land on which the village was formerly located was still ours to cultivate.

In 1986, [name of cadre withheld] was reassigned to work in the city [of Buon Ma Thuot]. That same year, the Province decided to take all of the land of the old village, consisting of 480 hectares, to establish a provincial forestry service. [Name withheld], the first secretary of the provincial Party, himself mobilized the people of D hamlet to turn the land over to the province to establish the forestry service and on many occasions promised the villagers that we would become members of or be hired by this new entity. But the people directly responsible for the forestry service completely ignored the promises made by their superiors to the villagers.

In 1990, the land of the forestry service was divided into two separate zones: the western part was the Science Committee, and the eastern part was the nursery. We asked the forestry service to contract with the villagers to plant trees on this area to provide at least a minimal livelihood for the 644 people, old and young, of our village. But the forestry service did not agree. We continued to hold our position, and waited, but they just strung us along and never made a decision.

Then in 1992, goaded by money, the forestry service signed a contract with Mr. Y, a Vietnamese from Ha Bac Province who had just moved to Dak Lak, allowing him to exploit 40 hectares of land. In addition to planting trees on the hills, Mr. Y arrogantly planted cashew trees on land belonging to our village.

By 1995 the people of our village understood very clearly that what the forestry service, and more directly Mr. Y, was doing was neither contributing anything to the state nor helping the people of our village make a living. The land taken from our village was not being used at all for the intended purpose of growing trees, but rather was taken by people in authority, from parts of a hectare to a few hectares each, to plant coffee or sold or otherwise used for personal purposes. And under the disguise of developing agriculture and forestry, the Forestry Service entered into contracts dividing the land into parcels from less than a hectare to several hectares with family members and friends from other provinces to plant coffee, cashews, sugar cane, and vegetables and then selling the land to others after making a lot of money (list attached). Thus we were not able to work the land that we had cultivated for a long, long time.

There were altercations between the two sides, and the Forestry Service and Mr. Y hired armed forces, about ten people, to guard the recreation area (the former Science Committee area) and set up a sentry box. They even fired military-issue weapons to threaten us during one of these struggles, which terrified our people, so much that they could not work.

The very lives of our 644 people were being directly threatened. We lost our livelihood when we lost our land. Faced with this disastrous situation, on July 27, 1995, the entire population of our village signed a petition which we sent to all of the authorities concerned asking them to resolve the problem. But since then, five full years have gone by, and we have received no reply. Our difficult economic situation has become even worse. Indeed, we have gotten to the point where we may die of starvation. We are losing all of our confidence.

For these reasons we are writing this supplemental petition. We implore you as a matter of urgency to respond. If this land is indeed not being used for community purposes, which is the case, we ask that it be returned to the people of the village to use. In principal the land was released in 1996 to D village to manage, but in name only. We completely disagree with what the Forestry Service has been doing, letting a few individuals use the land for personal ends. We ask you to tell us: who agreed to sign contracts with these individuals? Who is using this land while we villagers have been brutally thrown out?

Once more we ask you to save the livelihoods of the villagers of D village, for which the entire population of the village will thank you.

Attached are the signatures of the villagers.

D village, October 24, 2000

For the Self-Governing Committee, [signature]

504 Original Vietnamese language document, obtained by Human Rights Watch in September 2001, is on file at Human Rights Watch.

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