Message-ID: <>
Date: Thu, 23 Jul 1998 08:32:57 -0600
Sender: Southeast Asia Discussion List <SEASIA-L@LIST.MSU.EDU>
Subject: VN:Dong Minority in China May return to Vietnam

From: The Hong Kong Standard 07/23/98

Minority ‘may flee to Vietnam’

Hong Kong Standard, 23 July 1998

BEIJING: About 3,000 members of one of the mainland's smallest ethnic minority groups have threatened to flee to Vietnam after local authorities forcibly appropriated their land without providing sufficient compensation, a Hong Kong-based human rights group said yesterday.

The 3,000 members of the Dong ethnic minority have declared they will cross the sea and return to their homeland in Vietnam because the government forcibly took their farmland and denied them their right to existence, the Information Centre of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China said.

The protesters represent the majority of the estimated 5,000 members of the ethnic group in China. Most of the population is concentrated on tiny Weining island just off the southern coast of the Guangxi region in the Beibu Gulf, about 25 kilometres from the Vietnamese border.

The Dong have accused local government and law enforcement officials of using force to take their land away from them since 1992, burning fields and forest land to depreciate the value of their property and siphoning off government compensation.

They contend they have only received 22.5 million yuan (HK$21.8 million) of 250 million yuan owed them.

In recent years the government has said that the Chinese people's right to existence is the most important human right, but they are depriving a minority nationality which has only 5,000 people of their right to live, so much so that they do not want to live in China anymore, the centre said.

Representatives are on their way to Beijing to lobby central government authorities.

At least two of their community were sentenced to three years in a labour camp for trying to stop officials selling land for a tourist resort. Two more were in detention, awaiting sentencing.