News / Asia

Vietnam Security Forces Detain Anti-China Protesters

Vietnamese policemen bring protesters onto a bus after breaking up an anti-China demonstration in Hanoi, Vietnam, Sunday, Aug. 21, 2011
Vietnamese policemen bring protesters onto a bus after breaking up an anti-China demonstration in Hanoi, Vietnam, Sunday, Aug. 21, 2011
Marianne Brown

Police in Hanoi rounded up dozens of people at an anti-China rally in the center of Hanoi on Sunday as they gathered for the 11th week of protests.  

When 50 people gathered on the edge of Hoan Kiem lake in the capital, it was for an event that has become a regular occurrence in the capital over the past few months.

Marching past large groups of plain-clothed and uniformed police, the group waved banners and shouted slogans saying the Paracel and Spratly islands belong to Vietnam.

Demonstrators have turned out in Hanoi every Sunday for about 10 weeks to protest Chinese actions in the South China Sea. The government says Chinese vessels have deliberately interfered with oil exploration activities in disputed waters off its shores.

At previous protests, there has been a festival spirit among the crowds, with participants singing songs and chatting to friends. But this time there was a more menacing atmosphere.  

After a few minutes an empty bus pulled up alongside them. A group of men in plain clothes caught hold of some of the protesters and dragged them into the bus. Soon it was full of people, many still chanting.

The crackdown comes days after Hanoi People's Committee called a halt to the protests, warning that the government would apply "necessary measures" against those who failed to comply.

The announcement charged that in recent days, opposing forces within and outside the country have been inciting and guiding the demonstrations. It demanded that the participants stop all activities and gatherings in the city.

Phil Robertson from Human Rights Watch contests the statement.

"In many cases it’s ordinary Vietnamese who, out of their own patriotic feeling are unhappy with what China has been doing and they are taking part," said Robertson. "To smear them with a brush that they are revolutionary elements - there is no evidence to support this."

On Friday, a group of 25 prominent intellectuals, including a retired war hero, sent a petition to the committee contesting the order.  The document denied the protests were connected to outside forces, saying they presented a good image of people’s patriotism.  Robertson said the government themselves may be divided over what to do with the protesters.  

"It’s very interesting that the official order had an official stamp on it but no one had signed it. One wonders whether there is some degree of division within the Vietnam government, trying to incarcerate people who are raising concerns about China’s foreign policy towards Vietnam," said Robertson.  

The arrests on Sunday echo a similar crackdown on July 17, when 40 protesters were bundled into buses and driven to the police station where they were detained for several hours.

The incident followed initial negotiations between China and Vietnam over the territory dispute where both sides agreed to “steer public opinion in the correct direction.”

However, the protests were allowed to continue after footage posted on the internet showing a policeman beating one of the protesters attracted widespread public condemnation.

Professor Carl Thayer from the University of New South Wales in Australia says suppression of similar protests in Ho Chi Minh City after just two weeks also generated negative press.   

"The heavy-handiness of the crackdown in Ho Chi Minh City really rebounded against the government, there was real anger at that," said Thayer.  

But the crackdown in the South succeeded in putting people off forming more protests.  

As relatives and friends of those detained in Hanoi wait for news of their loved ones, it is unclear whether or not the latest crackdown marks an end to last ten weeks of rare public demonstrations in the communist country.

You May Like

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs