When we hear of land grabs and forced evictions, the story is often told in numbers that are difficult to conceive of: 500,000 people affected in Cambodia, 250,000 in Brazil. That’s why recent videos from a community evicted from their land outside of Hanoi are so compelling. To hear farmers scream as officers arrive in the hundreds to kick them off their land, or see the face of an elderly man as he is forced into the grasp of authorities, brings those numbers into focus – the numbers are individual communities, families, and livelihoods.
This week we bring you those videos from Vietnam, as well as an update on a barrel bomb attack in Syria, and the continued roundup of Somali and other immigrants in Kenya. Here are highlights from recently featured videos on the channel:
Long sticks, wails, the herding of people into trucks: those are some of the sights and sounds recorded in Duong Noi, Vietnam, when hundreds of officers moved in to confiscate 17 acres of land slated for urban development. Several videos taken at the scene document the chaos and violence involved the forced eviction of a community of farmers that has resisted the land seizure for several years. The farmers argue that it is illegal and the compensation they have been offered is inadequate. Last month, according to the independent news outlet VietnamRightNow, activists who protested a separate land grab were sentenced to up to five years behind bars.
As we wrote in April, videos by media activists in Kafr Zeita, Syria, documenting a series of bomb attacks, offered pieces to a puzzle that could help answer the questions of whether chemical weapons were used, and who was behind the attack. In a report released yesterday, Human Rights Watch states that analysis of those videos along with interviews with witnesses strongly suggest that government helicopters dropped barrel bombs containing chlorine gas – an industrial chemical banned in the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention. The report comes as the UN Security Council considers referring Syria to the International Criminal Court.
As international human rights advocates condemn Kenya’s roundup, detention, and deportation of refugees and asylum seekers, a new video shows how Kenyan authorities may be benefiting from the mass arrests. Taken last weekend in Eastleigh, a predominantly Somali neighborhood of Nairobi, the video surreptitiously documents the scene of a young woman in the back of a police truck as she passes a wad of bills to an officer and is released.
This week, we’re keeping our eyes on China, where authorities are cracking down on dissidents ahead of the the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. As Global Voices reports, several activists who attended a meeting to commemorate the 1989 repression of the pro-democracy movement have been detained.
UN talks on “killer robots,” beginning today in Geneva, allowing countries and advocates to discuss international laws that could govern the use of lethal autonomous weapons. The U.S. military’s drone program has drawn attention to the present and potential future use of unmanned weapons and their implications for human rights. While those operations often take place in rural areas of Yemen and Pakistan with little video documentation, the HRC has curated videos from communities affected by the weapons, including the Yemeni town where a drone strike hit a wedding convoy last December.
The most recent citizen videos of human rights issues can always be found on our Citizen Watch video playlist.
Image: a video still from YouTube user Gió Lang Thang’s video of Vietnamese farmers being forcibly evicted from their land.