News / Asia

Vietnam Activists Protest Disruption of Anniversary Ceremony

Anti-China protesters during a gathering to mark the 40th anniversary of a battle with China over the disputed Paracel Islands in Hanoi, January 19, 2014.
Anti-China protesters during a gathering to mark the 40th anniversary of a battle with China over the disputed Paracel Islands in Hanoi, January 19, 2014.
Vietnamese activists are criticizing the government for disrupting their ceremony to mark the 40th anniversary of a bloody naval battle in the South China Sea.  

Dozens of anti-China activists were quickly dispersed Sunday when they gathered in Hanoi.  In video posted to social networks, some protesters are heard shouting slogans against China.  But their voices are drowned out by warnings from the loudspeakers of security officials.

According to Nguyen Xuan Dien, a Vietnamese expert on Chinese culture who attended the event, the security force doubled the number of those who were attending.

“It is outrageous that they did it. We just wanted to burn incense and to lay flowers to pay respects to those who died in the battle, and then we planned to disperse peacefully.  We strongly opposed the clumsy and stupid action by the local authorities," said Dien.

The sea battle with China over the Paracel Islands in January 1974 claimed the lives of 74 Vietnamese sailors from the then U.S.-backed South Vietnamese navy.  

A student who joined the observance Sunday, Le Duc Hien, alleged he was taken to a police station where he was beaten and had his personal items confiscated.

“We did not do anything that is in contradiction with the law and the constitution.  We did not do anything wrong.  We just wanted to honor those who sacrificed their lives for the country.  The government should have praised our action," said Hien.

VOA’s Vietnamese Service contacted that police station, but a representative declined to comment on the allegation.

Vietnam has not officially recognized those who died in the 1974 battle because they fought for South Vietnam, which later lost its war with North Vietnam.

But the country's state-owned press recently published stories relating to the historic battle prior to the anniversary, even though it did not mention the ceremony held by activists.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Vietnamese service.

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Comment Sorting
by: Taiji Robinhood
January 20, 2014 6:47 PM
This was the last battle that the Chinese People's Liberation Army fought with foreign countries when Mao Zedong was in power. The poorly equipped Chinese Navy using 4 mine sweepers defeated 4 South Vietnamese destroyers and frigates. That is something unusual in the sea battles in world history. The heroic Chinese sailors even used machine guns and hand grenades when the Chinese mine sweeper was close enough to a South Vietnamese frigate! Salute to the heros!
In Response

by: tome from: US
January 21, 2014 2:00 PM
another delusional chinese. if the US hadn't interfered, the south vn would've taken back the islands. the vietnamese ships was so poorly equipped compared to your. go learn some real history for a change
In Response

by: remied from: canada
January 21, 2014 6:48 AM
You are delusional, what are you talking about? You better check outside and other history reference because what you are saying sounds like classic chinese made up history.
In Response

by: Igor from: Russia
January 21, 2014 12:57 AM
The only country in the world which considers the pirates as heroes is the Pirate State of China.

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