The Con Dau village used to be a small farming and fishing village, covering 110ha in Hoa Xuan commune, located just 4km South of Da Nang, Central Vietnam. While centuries ago, the area used to be an un-cultivable swamp, with seawater entering the fields, the effort of many generations of hard working families with strong community bonds, turned it into an area suitable for agriculture as well as into the home of their catholic parish .See more...
Life in Con Dau village changed drastically in May 2007, when the government of Da Nang City announced plans to expropriate 430ha in the Hoa Xuan ward area, including the entire Con Dau village, in order to lease the land to developers for the construction of an eco-resort hotel [1;2]. The project was granted to the Sun Group, a private company . To acquire the land, the government offered compensations to the 2000 villagers, which however were very low in comparison to the market value, and relocation areas were further distant [1;3]. But moreover, the main concern of the villagers were not the low compensations, but rather the cultural and religious loss they would face, by leaving behind their parish village which they had been constructing over more than a century. Particularly, the planned relocation of the village cemetery and its 1600 tombs to a mountainous, inaccessible area provoked a public outcry .
While the local government tried to pressure the villagers to move away through harassment and threats, almost all villagers refused to leave. On May 4, 2010, hundreds of policemen from Da Nang City cracked down on the villagers while they were attending a funeral. Villagers experienced heavy violence from the police, which employed tear gas, electric rods, and rubber bullets to intimidate them during the funeral. More than 100 villagers, including children and elderly, were injured, 62 were arrested and consequently tortured, leading even to the death of one villager [1;4;5]. Nearly 40 of the villagers, many of them with a pending arrest warrant, fled to Thailand to ask for asylum. The authorities continued to harass their families who remained in the village [1;6].
The conflict received international attention. In 2010, journalists from Radio Free Asia (RFA) investigated the case, but were confronted by Vietnamese authorities after filing an investigative report . The Con Dau Parishioners Association, a group of Con Dau parishioners residing in the US, filed a report to the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion . Also the US Congress urged the UN to investigate the case  and UN human rights experts called on the government to urgently intervene in this “case of land grabbing for the benefit of private entrepreneurs and at the expense of local communities” .
However, Vietnamese authorities generally denied any human rights violations, stating that these testimonies were just part of a campaign to damage the country’s reputation . Raids followed on March 27, 2014, when bulldozers arrived to tear down the remaining houses , in order to remove the village and its unique traditions and culture to establish the so-called luxury “eco-tourism” project .