Vietnam Protests: Week 3

People rallied in various locations around Vietnam today, Sunday, May 15, in smaller numbers than previous weeks as hundreds of people are under virtual house arrest.

One of the largest rallies was in Nghệ An Province on Vietnam’s north-central coast. The central coast has been effected by a massive fish kill which people believe was caused by toxic pollution from a steel mill in Ha Tinh Province.

Police blocked streets and gathered in locations likely to draw protesters while others stood outside the homes of activists, keeping them under virtual house arrest.

Late yesterday, Saturday May 14, The Wild East received a message via twitter:

the goverment prevent us to send every messages include “sensitive words” like fish, death fish, Vung Ang, formosa etc

Facebook was also blocked for the 30 million Vietnam users of that web site.

A small group of young protesters hold signs up as they march in Hanoi
Protesters in Hanoi before being arrested. Photo: Anh Chí

In Hanoi, a group of young people held protest messages up and marched for about 100 meters before being arrested.

In Saigon, expats reported that foreigners in the vicinity of protest sites were being arrested and questioned by immigration authorities as well as police. Videos and pictures of the protests were deleted from their devices.

Some protesters were guided by advice to not gather around the Duc Ba Cathedral where protesters last week were brutally suppressed, but to gather instead in the ‘Backpacker area’ of Pham Ngu Lao/ Bui Vien. They hoped that the presence of foreigners in the area would discourage police violence, while increasing the potential for international attention.

The international media has largely ignored the issue, and the protests it has generated. Last week, May 8, which was also Mother’s Day, peaceful protesters were beaten and pepper-sprayed by police. Victims of police bashings included women with children.

Reuters reported that a single rally happened May 8 in the country’s capital Hanoi, and that protesters were ‘shepherded onto buses‘. Other media outlets copy-pasted the Reuters report.

Police in Saigon
Police gather in large numbers in an attempt to prevent a third Sunday of protests. Photo: Viet Tan
Protesters in Nghệ An Province Vietnam
People march in a protest in Nghệ An Province, Vietnam, May 15, 2016. Photo: Viet Tan