Human rights Watch Laos calls on Long Thanh Golf Trading and Investment Joint Stock Company to purchase the rice field of 250 families of Laotian farmers with the reasonable price and support them to have the ability to buy the new rice fields in other area.
The US1 Billion project involves the construction of a golf course on the rice fields on the outskirts of Vientiane - Laos by the Vietnam- owned Long Thanh Golf Trading and Investment Joint Stock Company. The construction is scheduled for completion in 12 years. Over 250 families, the majority of which are poor, will be forced to abandon their communities’ and small farms.
Online PR News – 25-January-2010 –The US1 Billion project involves the construction of a Golf course on the rice fields on the outskirts of Vientiane by the Vietnam- owned Long Thanh Golf Trading and Investment Joint Stock Company. The construction is scheduled for completion in 12 years. Over 250 families, the majority of which are poor, will be forced to abandon their communities’ and small farms.
Long Thanh is known to be partially owned by a group of retired Vietnamese army officials who fought in Laos during the revolutionary conflicts, according to soldiers on the construction site and releases from the Lao government mouthpiece media. The company's principal, Le Van Kiem, a Vietnamese Communist Party member and ardent golf fan, has expressed his aim to establish the most beautiful golf courses in Asia, according to the Hanoi Golf Club's website.
At a January 4, 2010 groundbreaking ceremony, H.E. Mr. Somsavat Lengsavad Deputy Prime Minister insisted that the government would create "favourable conditions" for the Long Tranh project. That was read by some as a tacit thread to those who have voiced opposition to the development. Villagers have reported that a heavy police presence as well as Vietnamese security guards are positioned around the now cordoned off site.
Negotiations and attempts to modify angry villagers, however, have so far been handled mostly by district and local level authorities at Nong Hew, Xiengda, Nahai and Dongkhamsang -Vientiane.
A man in Nahai village told this correspondent that he did not wish to give up his land but had been told by the village chief if he did not accept the government's compensation offer, the land would be sequestered anyway and he would receive nothing. “On day when I die I would like to give this land to my children, but now what do I have? They told me I can work on the golf course, but I am too old, and what would I eat- grass? "
Some, however, have bravely braced for a fight. " If I had a gun I would kill them. I do not know what to do," said Khampheng, a teary-eyed community member. " I fought for this country, I fought for my land. I watched my friends die to defend Laos. Now the government is forcing us off. What did I fight for? I am losing the land I have lived on since the war. I am too old to start again."
One woman reported that when she has taken her two cows to graze in a nearby marsh, she was turned away by an armed soldier. "Why are Vietnamese soldiers in Laos ?" She asked. "I can tell you about the soldiers, but if I complain to the authorities they tell me that I will be arrested."
"They are staging war, " she said. " It's not the war of old time in the forest, but a war in the city against their own people."
Nearly all here agree that the compensation offer isn't sufficient to buy sustainable replacement lands and most have no idea where they could viably resettle. Land price around Vientiane have steadily increased in recent years. One woman was offered around US $ 4,700. by mediating officials for 3 hectares of paddy, garden plots and house at the center of the project's site.
“It’s not enough," she said. One hectare of land in the same vicinity on the outskirts of Vientiane was recently advertised on a real estate site for US$ 50,000.
Source: Asia Times. 23/01/2010
President of Human Rights Watch Laos, Inc.
Mr Bounkhong Arounsavat