Cái Răng, a peri-urban district of Can Tho City, has been well known for its floating market, which is among the biggest in the Mekong Delta. However, the district is changing rapidly due to urbanization projects, such as through the construction of the Hung Phu Residential Area, causing desperate disputes over land seizes. The Hung Phu Residential Area, supported by local government officials and approved by the Can Tho People Committee in 2002, is a 42ha urban development project, located in Can Tho province, comprised of a school, a mall, a supermarket, residential buildings, and other urban infrastructures .
For the construction of the urban precinct, 157 households needed to be relocated to other areas. While most households, persuaded by local officials and incentivized by extra-payments for moving quickly, accepted the compensation, 34 households, occupying 1.2ha, resisted the evictions. In addition to concerns regarding their future livelihoods, they complained that compensation offers (400,000 VND/m2) were inadequate as they were much lower than offers reported from other cases in close-by regions, as well as lower than the regional market land price [1;2;3]. The protesters also perceived the compensation as unfair in comparison to the large benefits generated for the investors, when selling the developed land for several millions VND/m2. Moreover, there was a lack of participation and community consultation in the project development, during which resettlement plans and land prices were imposed on the local villagers [1;2].
People protested against the relocation verbally as well as in form of written complaints to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and other state agencies; however, their complaints were dismissed [1;3]. No court cases were filed, as generally the villagers perceived the court to support the government, rather than the people . Several attempts to settle the conflict with the remaining families followed and consequently some accepted the raised compensations. One family however completely refused to accept, which led to forced evictions, approved on December 16, 2010. The contractor company started construction work, but the family returned desperately to their land, blocking workers from entering the plot. In a suicide attempt, the husband drank pesticides to protest the evictions, but was rescued later on at the local hospital [1;2]. The wife and daughter then occupied the land and stripped naked to raise to attention their case, however, the security guards forcefully evicted them. Consequently, the wife was fined 1,500,000VND (75USD) for violating the countries norms and a small fine of VND 350,000 (approx. 16USD) was imposed on the Western Security Service Company, for their untrained security guards [1;2;4].
The family’s protest actions brought large attention to the case and made it well known across the country as well as internationally through traditional and social media [1;2]. In the following, a Task-Force was set up to settle the conflict and compromise solutions were sought, but no settlement accepted by the family could be achieved. The company, supported by state agencies, continued the construction of the urban complex [1;3].