Three policemen and a villager died Thursday in rare violent clashes with Vietnam’s communist authorities over disputed land around a military-owned Hanoi airport.
Construction of the Mieu Mon facility has been a long-running sore for villagers who say it is being built on land illegally seized by the military.
Clashes erupted on Thursday before dawn when authorities attempting to erect a perimeter fence were met by residents armed with “grenades, petrol bombs and knives”, the Ministry of Public Security said in a statement.
The “social disorder” led to the “deaths of three policemen and one resident”, the statement said, adding other villagers were “arrested for serious violations of the law”.
It was not immediately possible to confirm the toll or verify the authorities’ version of events, disseminated with unusual speed in a country where secrecy and control normally trump transparency.
But a video widely circulated on Facebook by an activist at the scene appeared to show gunfire lighting up the dawn gloom around the village as several truckloads of security guards arrived.
Human Rights Watch urged Vietnam to launch an investigation that “gets to the bottom of what happened” and to provide unfettered access to the site for impartial observers including journalists, diplomats and UN officials.
Land disputes are common in Vietnam, where powerful individuals and companies often make claims on property.
The government strictly controls freedom of expression and the right to protest but flashpoints occur.
In 2017 villagers held more than a dozen police officers and officials, hostage, for several days at the airport site in a standoff that gripped the tightly-controlled country.
Brazil’s indigenous peoples have long battled to protect their ancestral lands and native cultures — but the election of far-right president-elect Jair Bolsonaro has sparked concerns that hard-won rights could be eroded.
Both before and since his election just over two weeks ago, Bolsonaro has drawn ire by making inflammatory remarks about women, black people and the LGBT community.
But when it comes to Brazil’s indigenous population, he’s made actual threats.
“Today, many people are afraid,” Luiz Eloy Terena, a legal advisor to the Articulation of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB), told AFP.
“We’re worried because he (Bolsonaro) has already stated that he will reduce indigenous lands.”
According to Brazil’s national indigenous foundation (FUNAI) there are over 800,000 indigenous people and more than 300 different tribes in the country.
They are fighting to preserve a way of life imperiled since European colonialists arrived in South America more than 500 years ago.
There are 426 demarcated territories in Brazil, established in the 1980s for the exclusive use of their indigenous inhabitants. Access by outsiders is strictly regulated.
Posing a particular threat are those looking to make money from farming, mining and logging — and Bolsonaro is their champion.
Speaking to the television program Brasil Urgente last week, Bolsonaro said that “if it were up to me, there would be no more indigenous land demarcation.”
‘There is intent’
While he was talking about potential new demarcations, Fiona Watson, a director at tribal rights group Survival International, says indigenous people should be worried about Bolsonaro’s plans.
“Judging by his history, he’s always opposed demarcation and recognition of indigenous territories,” London-based Watson told AFP by telephone.
Indigenous land rights are protected by Brazil’s constitution — but Bolsonaro has previously suggested he has no intention of respecting that.
In a January 2016 video taken in Congress, Bolsonaro warned the indigenous people of the Raposa Serra do Sol reserve, in northern Brazil’s Roraima state, that he would “rip up” their demarcated territory and “give guns to the ranchers.”
“Some people might say these are just threats but I’m sure there’s intent there,” said Watson.
“He’s very anti-indigenous people. He wants to integrate them.”
Integration is a controversial issue as it was a policy enforced by Brazil’s military dictatorship (1964-85), under which Bolsonaro served as an army captain.
“It’s kind of like beating the Indian out of the Indian,” said Watson.
“It’s like a land-grab… by integrating them you’re taking them off the land. You’re drawing them into the towns or cities.”
‘A zoo animal’
Bolsonaro has shown an acute lack of understanding of indigenous peoples, claiming “the Indian is a human being like us” who wants “the internet, to play football, a car, air travel” — all elements of modern life many tribes explicitly reject.
“The Indian cannot continue to be trapped within a demarcated area as if he were a zoo animal,” he once said.
The president-elect draws a lot of his support within Congress from lobbies known collectively as BBB — beef, bible, bullet — that have a vested interest in indigenous lands.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) this week blasted Brazil for its failure to properly fund FUNAI, leaving it powerless against wealthy business groups making claims on indigenous lands they hope to exploit.
“One of the methods they use is investing in the weakening of FUNAI. With a weak FUNAI, the indigenous community is left exposed,” Terena explained.
IACHR commissioner Francisco Eguiguren said the body is “not against projects using natural resources,” but added they “must take into account the people living there.”
“You cannot have policies that treat these people as if they don’t exist,” he said at the end of a week-long IACHR visit to Brazil.
However, while the odds may be stacked against them, Watson insists there is hope for the descendants of Brazil’s native inhabitants.
“The encouraging thing in the midst of all this really bleak news coming out of Brazil and Bolsonaro’s election, is the indigenous peoples are very organized now,” she said.
“They’re going to fight, there’s no question about that.”
African representatives meeting at the UN Habitat III regional conference in Abuja, have set seven priorities to fast-track urbanization in Africa, accompanied by sustainable development, social integration and equity.
After three days of deliberations, seven broad priorities were set by 52 African countries, for Africa’s urban agenda, and the UN Habitat III regional conference in Nigeria, drew to a close.
The representatives have agreed that there are no general solutions to issues of urbanization but they say there are a set of frameworks that can serve as guides.
Seven strategic priorities have been set in what would in future be known as ‘The Abuja Declaration’.
Among the priorities of the conference is the enhancement of people-centred urban and human settlements through access to affordable and adequate basic services, housing and land, urban safety and security, and upgrading of slums.
Also among the priorities is the allocation of adequate financial resources, enhancement of the connectivity between rural and urban areas and empowering local governments to deliver adequate shelter to citizen.
The focus is urbanization that accelerates structural transformation for inclusive growth, and strengthening of institutions and systems to promote transformative change in settlements.
The United Nations Habitat office is optimistic that these strategic priorities will set Africa out towards the global urban goal.
Every government now has the task to set about implementation, each nation according to its level of development.
A Security Consultant, Retired Captain Aliyu Umar, on Friday traced the tribal clashes and attacks prevalent in some Nigeria’s northern states to economic challenges as well as political manipulations, saying that the attacks are fuelled by ethno-religious and socio-political influences.
Following a recent attack in Shonong village in Bachit District of Riyom Local Government Area of Plateau State, Mr Umar, who was speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, said the socio-cultural infusion between the Birom tribe and Fulani’s had led to intermarriages, changes in vocational orientation and adoption of names.
“They intermarry; they live together and suddenly they are at war. Don’t forget 20 – 30 years ago the same ethnic differences were there but they were not fighting. The same religious differences were there but they were not fighting,” he said, insisting that “the doings or the undoing’s of our political leaders are actually feeding that dog we call crime” which is probably out of control.
He also noted that the tribes involved had farming and herding as their vocations but pointed out that the cattlemen were responding violently to the problems of lack of available lands for their herds to graze. “The cattlemen are forced to contend with farmers who also need the same limited lands and water resources to cultivate crops,” he said.
Both groups face the challenge caused by population increase which makes land a scarce commodity as masses spread out to settle on lands which were formerly in abundance.
According to the analyst, the attacks had become a cycle – ‘the police respond late, then there is a public outcry demanding that perpetrators are caught afterwhich a high powered delegation is sent to condole the victims and then another attack occurs’.
Addressing the issue from the perspective of security, Umar identified lapses on the part of security agents, particularly in respect to response time to emergencies. He added that security measures by operatives were ‘reactive’ and not ‘active’ because security presence should be established before attacks and not after.
Reports gathered by Channels Television revealed that the police arrived at the scene of the attack five hours later. Umar berated this, saying it is an indication of poor police presence in the area. “Criminals could have travelled as far as another continent within that time space,” he stressed.
He, however, noted that it would be impossible to deploy officers to all attack-prone communities as there were not enough men in the force, but was quick to add that police outposts should be active while the agents should have rapid response camps to tackle such cases.
While listing suggestions, which he said would help curb the attacks, Umar commended the Inspector General of Police, Mr Mohammed Abubakar, for taking the initiative to present his scorecard in the 2013 and called on top ranking officers of the force to emulate the same as it would help gather data needed to tackle insecurity.
He advised that a better system of communication and response should be established as the attackers would be camped nearby in order to quickly escape after carrying out the crimes.
He called on the government to be proactive in its obligations as the security agents would need to be properly mobilised, funded and equipped to do their jobs.
The retire military officer also advocated the introduction of herdsmen to ranching, an initiative he said would also boost productivity.
A nagropreneur and founder of Abria Agribusiness Support Initiative, Mosunmola Umoru, has highlighted major reasons why the agricultural sector of the nation cannot boast of many youths engaging in it.
Top on the list, according to her, is lack of access to land and funds.
Umoru agreed that “the barrier to entry can be high. In some instances, access to land, access to finance, lack of collateral actually inhibits a lot of young people from getting engaged in the sector.”
Speaking on Channels Television’s business programme, Business Morning, on Monday, she stated that Nigerian youths “aren’t even seeing the potentials within the sector” which laid the foundation for her initiative.
Also, the mind set of agriculture from the “primary production aspect” where they have to use basic tools to farm is one of the major deterrents for the younger generation.
This is a source of concern for the federal government, which has embarked on a mission to diversify the nation’s economy and put an end to the great dependence on crude oil. President Goodluck Jonathan also lunched the Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme at the recently concluded 19th Economic Summit, which held in Abuja.
“There’s a huge burden to actually see more young people come into the sector” which is dominated by citizens in the 50 to 65 age bracket, Umoru said, adding that “a lot of the limitations that young people would usually encounter if they want to venture in agro business is going to be tackled”.
The Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme will create low cost funding for young people in agriculture. The programme will also incubate agro-business clubs in institutions of agriculture, as a means to encourage students to venture into the sector.
She further commended the Federal Government for the Agricultural Transformation Agenda which she described as a timely move in the right direction.
“It’s important for the federal government to be actively involved in charting the course to diversify the economy” as no nation can survive based on the importation on food.
Although the agriculture sector guarantees increase in economy and has huge potentials to create jobs for the unemployed youths, issues such as underutilised land, irrigation, water management have to be tackled so the sector can guarantee food security for the nation.
Analysts have said that the recent intervention in the agricultural sector by the Federal Government is late.
While examining ways by which food security can be achieved in Nigeria on Business Morning, the executive director, Admiral Agricultural and Environmental Care, Shedrach Madlion said events in Northern Nigeria, in the past 2 years, are not only natural disasters but they are human disasters.
Professor Bola Okuneye of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta supported this and added that activities of insurgent groups have led to a ‘high level of food insecurity’.
Farmers face constant oppression from terrorists, curfews placed by security agents also restrict them from attending to their farms.
While shedding light on the extent of the damage done to the sector in Northern Nigeria, Mr Madlion said the structure needed to distribute the grains appropriately is not on ground.
However, Mr Okuneye expressed hopes for the sector but called on the government to encourage youth participation by providing easy access to lands for farming.