Provided by Bill Laurie

Vietnam mourners clash with riot police: reports

Vietnam mourners clash with riot police: reports
March 18, 2013

HANOI - Angry mourners clashed with riot police at a funeral procession in northern Vietnam at the weekend, state media said Monday, in a rare mass protest at alleged impunity for the country's communist elite.

Sunday's unrest was triggered by the death of Nguyen Tuan Anh, whose family claims he was killed by the son-in-law of a powerful local official, according to the Tuoi Tre daily.

Video clips and photos posted online showed police struggling to contain thousands of mourners as they stormed through the town of Vinh Yen bearing the coffin of Anh, whose disfigured body was pulled from a sewer earlier in the day.

In one widely-shared image, a riot policeman is seen knocking over a white-headband wearing family member in the funeral procession, prompting a storm of online criticism of authorities' handling of the unrest.

Five unidentified people have been arrested in connection with Anh's death but police declined to comment on whether the son-in-law of the local official was involved, the Tuoi Tre said.

An initial autopsy concluded that Anh drowned, according to another report, but the family has rejected that finding and is calling for a new probe. Local officials could not be reached for comment.

Public protest is traditionally rare in authoritarian Vietnam, a one-party state which tightly controls all demonstrations and outward signs of dissent.

But public discontent is on the rise, and demonstrations against perceived local-level corruption -- particularly over land -- have erupted into violence several times over the last year.

The Communist Party senior leadership last year called on officials to improve their behaviour to try to shore up public support. — AFP