Vietnam detains anti-China activists before torch relay

Photo/AFP
HO CHI MINH CITY (AFP) — Police in Vietnam prevented major anti-Chinese rallies Tuesday with what activists said were scores of detentions ahead of the Ho Chi Minh City leg of the troubled Olympic torch relay.

The US-based pro-democracy group Viet Tan said it had confirmed more than a dozen detainees by name in Hanoi while several activists and bloggers claimed scores more had been taken into custody, including a group of fishermen.

Viet Tan, which is banned in communist Vietnam, said those detained after protesting at China’s human rights record and its claim to disputed islands in the South China Sea were students, teachers, artists and farmers.

Police would not confirm any detentions, but an AFP reporter witnessed one incident at a Hanoi market when two protesters were taken away after unfurling a banner showing the five Olympic rings rendered as handcuffs.

The Beijing Olympic flame was flown into Ho Chi Minh City — formerly known as Saigon — from North Korea late Monday.

The relay was scheduled to start in the southern port city at 6:30 pm amid tight security, with organisers anxious to avoid disruption by pro-Tibet and rights activists that has dogged earlier legs of the global journey.

Some 60 runners will carry the torch from the downtown Opera House along a secret route of some 10 to 13 kilometres (six to eight miles) to the Military Zone 7 Competition Hall stadium near the airport, officials said.

After Vietnam, the Olympic torch will be flown to Hong Kong and Macau, and from there into the Chinese mainland.

Ho Chi Minh City includes Vietnam’s largest ethnic Chinese community, and several youths were seen wearing T-shirts that said “Proud to be Chinese” and bore the Beijing Olympics logo “One World, One Dream, One China.”

While pro-Tibet rallies have dogged the relay in cities including London, Paris and Canberra, Vietnam’s mostly young and nationalist activists are more driven by the country’s own long-simmering dispute with its neighbour.

Beijing and Hanoi are among the claimants to the Spratly and Paracel island chains, in a dispute that late last year triggered a series of street rallies rarely seen in Vietnam, a one-party state.

The governments of Vietnam and China routinely stress their comradely ties, and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung last week promised China’s visiting Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi to stage a trouble-free torch relay.

The premier warned that “hostile forces” would seek to disrupt the event, using a standard term from the communist lexicon for pro-democracy activists.

In both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, scores of riot police deployed outside Chinese diplomatic missions, where last December’s rallies started.

Police last week detained a blogger, accusing him of tax evasion, and also expelled a Vietnamese-American chemical engineer caught with T-shirts bearing slogans such as “A Gold Medal for Oppression.”

The banned People’s Democratic Party said university students here had also been detained for printing T-shirts that read, “Protest the torch relay” and “China invaded Vietnam’s Spratly and Paracel Islands.”

Vietnam was ruled as a vassal state by China for centuries and repeatedly invaded by successive Chinese dynasties, and most Vietnamese folk heroes are leaders who fought back the northern invaders.

China and Vietnam fought their last border war in 1979, but the leaders in Hanoi and Beijing, two of the world’s five remaining communist regimes, have since normalised relations and become strong economic partners.

29 April 2008

Source: AFP

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

Radio New Horizon
www.radiochantroimoi.com

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:

http://www.radiochantroimoi.com/audio/2008/04/ducthach2.mp3/

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:

http://www.radiochantroimoi.com/audio/2008/04/DuongTXuan.mp3/

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 radiochantroimoi.com 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.

Bản tin nhanh số 2 – Hà Nội, Sài Gòn sục sôi lòng yêu nước Việt – Đảng, Nhà Nước CSVN dốc toàn lực bảo vệ Bắc Kinh

Tại Hà Nội, lúc 9 giờ sáng ngày 29/4/2008, khoảng 150 người, bao gồm các nhà dân chủ, dân oan và thân nhân các ngư dân Thanh Hoá bị hải quân Trung Quốc bắn giết trên biển Đông đã tụ họp trước cửa chợ Đồng Xuân để biểu tình phản đối hành động bá quyền và xâm lấn của Trung Quốc.

Đoàn biểu tình mang theo nhiều biểu ngữ, trong đó có một biểu ngữ lớn màu đen trắng in hình các còng tay theo dạng thế vận hội và thông điệp phản đối Bắc Kinh. Phái đoàn cũng mang theo cả loa cầm tay để giải thích và kêu gọi mọi người chung quanh tham gia.

Nhưng chỉ khoảng 15 phút sau, hơn 300 công an cơ động, chìm, nổi xông vào giựt cờ, xé biểu ngữ, bẻ tay, đánh đập số đồng bào biểu tình. Xin lắng nghe lời tường thuật của Nhà Thơ Trần Đức Thạch: http://www.radiochantroimoi.com/audio/2008/04/ducthach2.mp3

Sau đó công an bắt hầu hết số người phối hợp cuộc biểu tình, bao gồm cả nhà văn Nguyễn Xuân Nghĩa, nhà giáo Vũ Hùng, sinh viên Ngô Quỳnh, sinh viên Tiến Nam, anh Vi Đức Hồi, chị Kim Thu … vào tầng 1 chợ Đồng xuân. Lúc 10 giờ sáng, công an đưa xe ô tô đến áp tải tất cả số người bị bắt về đồn công an Thành Phố Hà nội 87 Trần Hưng Đạo. Trong khi đó, số đồng bào còn lại trong đoàn biểu tình sau khi lấy lại bình tĩnh đã trở lại trước cửa chợ Đồng Xuân chứ không bỏ về. Đến 10 giờ 30 sáng ngày 29/4 an ninh cộng sản đến bắt hơn 100 người trong đoàn biểu tình tại trước cửa chợ Đồng Xuân, bao gồm cả nhà thơ Trần Đức Thạch, anh Đỗ Duy Thông, ông Châu, ông Kiều, anh Nguyễn Bá Đăng, anh Túc, sinh viên Nhất, anh Toản, anh Vỹ, toàn bộ bà con ngư dân Thanh Hoá, các dân oan Mai Xuân Thưởng, đoàn giáo viên Hà đông, đoàn sinh viên Hải phòng, v.v… Tất cả bị nhét lên xe ô tô và đưa về trung tâm thẩm vấn 87 Trần Hưng Đạo – Công an Thành phố Hà nội.

Các hành động hung bạo của hơn 300 công an có làm đồng bào biểu tình kinh ngạc. Kinh ngạc về mức độ quyết tâm của thành phần lãnh đạo đảng CSVN và hệ thống công an của họ trong nỗ lực công khai trấn áp những người Việt yêu nước để bảo vệ sĩ diện cho Bắc Kinh. Nhưng sự hung bạo đó không còn đủ để làm những đồng bào này run sợ. Xin nghe nhà dân chủ Dương Thị Xuân tuyên bố quan điểm của đoàn người biểu tình tại chợ Đồng Xuân:

Trong khi đó, tình hình Sài Gòn tiếp tục căng thẳng. Nay công an được phép xông vào các quán nước bên đường và chận bắt người trên đường phố mà không cần cho biết lý do. Càng gần các khu khai mạc và kết thúc cuộc rước đuốc, người ta chỉ thấy các “du khách” Trung Quốc tự do đi lại. Mọi người Việt đều bị công an nhìn ngó với cặp mắt nghi ngờ. Nhiều người bị lớn tiếng xua đuổi, hoặc thậm chí bị tống lên xe chở đi.

Cập nhật lúc 15 giờ, giờ Việt Nam, ngày 29/4/2008

Radio Chân Trời Mới
http://www.radiochantroimoi.com

Pictures from Torch Relay in Saigon

From Blogger Hồ Lan Hương. Strong presences of Chinese supporters in the white Beijing tshirts.

Saigon on the Eve of the Olympic Torch Relay

Radio New Horizon
http://www.radiochantroimoi.com

News Brief #1
Saigon on the Eve of the Olympic Torch Relay

On April 28, 2008, amidst preparations for the highly anticipated arrival of the 2008 Olympic Torch Relay through the streets of Saigon, Vietnamese citizens have become increasing aware of the heighten sense of unease among the city’s public security officials.

Around 9pm, security police swamped the historic Saigon Norte Dame Basilica, the downtown Opera House, and the Bach Dang station in anticipation of large scale protests. When they realized they had been mistaken, security police encircled the Saigon Opera House and the Chinese Consulate. Currently there is a large police presence at each location numbering in the thousands. Cars passing by are being inspected. Police have also cordoned off the major boulevards of Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Pham Ngoc Thach, Tran Hung Dao and Le Loi.

Students and youth in Saigon continue to form small groups to follow the deployment of security officials and look for the best locations to gather without prior coordination. Perhaps this is what has worried security officials. They have tried to detain or isolate those believed to be youth leaders. In the last 24 hours, blogger Dong A, college student Le Ngoc Ho Diep, college student Hoang Duc Tuong, among others, have been detained at their local police station.

Police have also prevented democracy activists from across the country from gathering in to Saigon to protest China including writer Nguyen Xuan Nghia and Pham Thi Thanh Nghien in Hai Phong; Nguyen Phuong Anh, Lu Thi Thu Duyen in Hanoi; Trinh Thi Phuong Thuy, wife of imprisoned democracy activist Nguyen Phong, in Hue; and engineer Do Nam Hai in Saigon.

The unease of Vietnamese security officials and discontent among the populace led Beijing to make a concession in the last 24 hours. Olympic organizers modified the torch relay map, which had visibly portrayed the Spratly and Paracel Islands as part of China. The edited maps can be seen at http://torchrelay.beijing2008.cn/en/journey/map/.

While Vietnamese authorities declared that no Chinese paramilitary guards would be escorting the torch, local observers have noted an influx of Chinese-speaking “tourists,” “professionals,” and “workers” on the streets of Saigon in recent weeks. Shockingly, Vietnamese police have used the threat of Chinese security agents to threaten democracy activists. In a recent interrogation of Do Nam Hai, police threatened that “Chinese security forces know the location of your home, they know your appearance, so you better be careful for your personal safety.”

Updated 5am Vietnam, April 29, 2008


Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica

Call for release of Vietnamese prisoners of conscience before Olympic torch relay in Ho Chi Minh City

Reporters Without Borders called today for the release of all journalists and cyber-dissidents in Vietnam after a leading Vietnamese blogger was arrested on 19 April for taking part in protests against China. The Olympic torch is due to arrive on 29 April in Ho Chi Minh City, in southern Vietnam, after being borne through the streets of the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.

“When the Olympic torch relay takes place in Ho Chi Minh City, the Vietnamese government should release all prisoners of conscience and implement the Olympic Charter, which defends human dignity,” Reporters Without Borders said.

Many pro-freedom initiatives and independent media have emerged since the launch of the Bloc 8406 pro-democracy movement in April 2006. It was declared illegal by the government in October 2006 and since then the security services have constantly hounded its leading members. Several dozen have been arrested, including nine journalists and cyber-dissidents.

Opposition party members Huynh Nguyen Dao, Le Nguyen Sang and Nguyen Bac Truyen have been sentenced to jail terms of three, four and two years respectively on charges of “propaganda hostile to the government” in what they posted online. Lawyers Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan have been sentenced to four and three years in prison respectively.

Catholic priest Nguyen Van Ly, one of the chief editors of the Hue-based underground magazine Tu do Ngôn luan (Free Expression), was arrested in February 2007 and, after a summary trial, was given a long jail sentence for “propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.”

Less than a month ago, a court in Vinh Thuan (in the southern province of Kien Giang) sentenced independent journalist Truong Minh Duc to five years in prison under article 258 of the Vietnamese criminal code.

Biggest crackdown since 2002

Several Vietnamese have been arrested in the run-up to the torch relay for demonstrating against human rights violations in China and Chinese policy towards the South China sea, where China and Vietnam dispute the sovereignty of the Paracel Islands and Spratly Islands.

Overseas Vietnamese websites have reported that the official Chinese torch relay website shows these two archipelagos as being part of the People’s Republic of China.

(JPEG)

Blogger Dieu Cay

The blogger arrested on 19 April in the southern city of Dalat was independent journalist Nguyen Hoang Hai, who is better known by his blogging pseudonym of Dieu Cay. He had participated in protests against Chinese policy in Ho Chi Minh City earlier this year and was being closely watched by police, who had threatened to let Chinese agents kill him.

According to a Vietnamese government website, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung called on 20 April for “absolute security” during the Olympic torch relay in Ho Chi Minh City and warned against “hostile forces” that were always ready to disturb the peace.

http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=26673

VIETNAM: Supermarket Prices Rocket

http://www.kamcity.com/namnews/asp/newsarticle.asp?newsid=39871

Supermarket prices in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, have risen 10-15% over the last week on the back of petrol price hikes and increased transportation costs. The director of Ho Chi Minh City ‘s Big C Mien Dong supermarket, Dao Vinh Thai, said the prices of some 50 products, particularly meat, fish, shrimp and cooking oil, have increased from 5 to 15% this week. Other supermarkets in the city, including Maximark and Sai Gon Co-op, have also announced price increases. Sai Gon Co-op is said to have raised the price of more than 300 items.

The price of fresh produce at Co-op Cong Quynh supermarket has climbed 10%, while the prices of frozen and dried food are up by 15 and 10-20%, respectively. Co-op Cong Quynh management were quoted as saying that the price hikes were unavoidable, and expected to increase further in the next few days. Food suppliers started jacking up prices at the beginning of last month, citing higher transport and labour costs in tandem with restrictive banking conditions.