Vietnam Blocks Local Activists from Attending U.S.ís National Day in Hanoi



By Vu Quoc Ngu, Defend the Defenders

July 1, 2016


Security forces in Vietnamís capital city of Hanoi have barred a number of local activists from attending a ceremony to mark the National Day [July 4] of the U.S. which is organized by the American Embassy in the Southeast Asian nation.


Among blocked activists are human rights lawyer and former prisoner of conscience Le Quoc Quan and blogger Nguyen Huu Vinh, the victims said.


Mr. Quan, who was freed last year, said when he left his private in My Dinh, around 5.30 PM today [July 1] to go to the event at the invitation of the U.S.ís Embassy, dozens of police officers and plainclothes agents blocked his way, not allowing him to move out of the area.


Blogger Vinh, who has numerous articles posted on the British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) and the Radio of Free Asia (RFA) on promotion of multi-party democracy and human rights, also reported that the local authorities deployed a number of plainclothes agents to station near his private house and block him from going out.


Vinh said he was also invited by the American Embassy to the event, however, he couldnít come due to the police blockage.


Many other activists have reported that they have been under close police surveillance in recent days for unknown reasons.


It is not the first time Hanoi security forces barred local activists from meeting with foreign diplomats. In April, before and during the visit of U.S. President Barack Obama to Vietnam in May, a number of activists and independent journalists had been barred from going to meet with Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel and Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Tom Malinowski as well as attending a meeting between President Obama and representatives of local civil societies.


Vietnam has also blocked around 100 local activists from going abroad to meet with foreign politicians and international human rights activists or attend workshops and training courses. Authorities have also confiscated passports of many political dissidents and human rights activists, and refused to grant passports for many others, citing controversial decree on national security.


Meanwhile, the security forces in Ho Chi Minh City on Friday released two local activists Mr. Tran Tu Long and his girlfriend Truong Tue Minh. Police of Nha Be district detained the duo yesterday when they were traveling with their motorbike in the areas. Mr. Long and his girlfriend participated in a number of peaceful demonstrations on environmental issues, particularly raising their voices to demand the governmentís transparency in the investigation of the massive death of marine species in the central coastal region which was likely caused by discharge of huge volume of improperly-treated waste of the Ha Tinh province-based steel plant of the Taiwanese Formosa Plastic Group in Vietnamís sea waters.


Police in the central coastal province of Quang Tri on June 29 detained former prisoner of conscience Pham Minh Vu but freed him on the next day after failing to force him to making confession for trumped-up allegation. Vu, who was released November last year, has actively participated in public gatherings to promote human rights and multi-party democracy as well as raise concerns about environmental pollutions across the nation.


Vietnamís government has tightened public security to maintain the one-party regime. Earlier this week, Minister of Public Security Senior Lieutenant General To Lam, who is a member of the partyís Politburo, ordered the security forces to apply tougher measures to prevent peaceful spontaneous demonstrations.


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