News Brief #2, update on Olympic Torch Relay 2008 in Saigon

Radio New Horizon

News Brief #2

Outpouring of Patriotism in Hanoi and Saigon
Consideration for Beijing by Communist Party and Government

At 9 o’clock in Hanoi on April 29, 2008, about 150 people including democracy activists, aggrieved farmers and families of fishermen from Thanh Hoa province that were killed by the Chinese navy on the Eastern sea, gathered in front of Dong Xuan market protesting against Chinese aggression and invasion of the Spratly and Paracel islands. The protests brought banners, including a large black and white showing five Olympic rings rendered as handcuffs. They also brought megaphones to call for people to participate.

Only 15 minutes later, more than 300 security police rushed in to snatch slogans; tearing down banners; twisting arms and bashing people in the protest. Please listen to the report from poet Tran Duc Thach:

The police later arrested all those who were thought organizing the protest, including writer Nguyen Xuan Nghia, teacher Vu Hung, students Ngo Quynh and Tien Nam, Vi Duc Hoi, Kim Thu….at level 1, Dong Xuan Market. At 10 o’clock, police escorted all those that were arrested by cars back to Hanoi’s police station at 87 Tran Hung Dao Street. Meanwhile, those remain had moved to Dong Xuan market rather than going home. At 10:30am on April 29, security police came to arrest more than 100 people in front of Dong Xuan market including poet Tran Duc Thach, Do Duy Thong, Chau, Kieu, Nguyen Ba Dang, Tuc, students Nhat, Toan, Vy and all fishermen from Thanh Hoa, aggrieved farmers from Mai Xuan Thuong, teacher delegation from Ha Dong, students from Hai Phong…etc. Everyone was packed into police cars and transported back to Hanoi’s police station at 87 Tran Hung Dao Street for interrogation.

The brutal nature of 300 police astounded the protest. People were shocked by the determination of the Vietnamese authorities and the police in trying to repress patriots, to save face for Beijing. But these brutalities were not able to deter the people. Please listen to democracy activist Duong Thi Xuan announced the sentiments of the protest at Dong Xuan market:

In the mean time, the situation in Saigon becomes tenser. Police is now allowed to burst into shops along the street to arrest people without the need for warrant. As it comes closer to the ceremonial sites and toward the end of the Olympic Torch Relay, only Chinese tourists can be seen walking around freely, whereas all Vietnamese are watched with suspicion. Some were sent away, others were taken into police custody.

Updated at 3pm Vietnam, April 29, 2008.

Photos courtesy of bloggers

Only Chinese-speaking supporters (most likely Chinese visitors) were allowed to freely walk through the streets. Protesters speaking up about Hoang Sa/Truong Sa and pro-democracy activists were harassed and arrested by police officials.

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