Property Rights

HANOI, July 31, 2013 (AFP) – A Vietnamese fish farmer who became a folk hero after he used homemade weapons to resist forced eviction has lost his appeal against a five-year jail term for attempted murder, a court clerk said Wednesday. Doan Van Vuon and his family rose to prominence when they armed themselves with makeshift shotguns and landmines to resist eviction by local authorities.

Land rights are a flashpoint issue in the communist country, where land is wholly owned by the state and rights of use are not always clear or protected.

Millions of rural tenants such as Vuon are vulnerable to the whims of local officials, who can reclaim land for vaguely defined “public interest” reasons. Experts say this leads to widespread corruption.

The rare act of defiance by the 50-year-old former soldier triggered a nationwide outpouring of support, with even Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung branding the family’s eviction in January 2012 “illegal”.

But Vuon and three of his male relatives still received between two and five years in prison during their trial in April this year, after seven policemen were injured in the stand-off at the farm in Tien Lang district, 90 kilometres (55 miles) east of Hanoi.

At an appeal heari