Hanoi Police Arrest Dozens of Anti-China Activists Few Days after PCA Rejects Beijing’s Claim in East Sea
By Vu Quoc Ngu, Defend the Defenders
July 17, 2016
On July 17, security forces in Hanoi detained dozens of activists who oppose China’s violations of Vietnam’s sovereignty in the East Sea (South China Sea), few days after the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague rejected Beijing’s claim of sea and islands in the sea.
Among the detainees are Nguyen Thuy Hanh, Huynh Ngoc Chenh, Nguyen Bich Phuong, Truong Dung, Hoang Ha, Bui Quang Thang, Dao Thu Hue, and La Viet Dung. Police arrested them at around 8.30 AM of Sunday when they gathered at King Ly Thai To monument at the city’s center, took them into a bus which ran into unknown direction.
A number of other activists were arrested and kept in police stations in the city’s centers.
The police in Hanoi made detention in a bid to prevent the planned peaceful demonstration of activists scheduled at 9 AM of Sunday. Earlier this week, No-U movement which does not recognize the Chinese U-shaped line claim in the East Sea called for a peaceful protest to support the PCA’s ruling on July 12 and demand China to go out of the sea.
Hanoi-based activist Dr. Nguyen Xuan Dien said he came to the monument to join the demonstration but seeing the quick detention. All the roads leading to the monument and areas near the Ho Guom Lake were blocked with barbed wire and full of police officers, plainclothes agents and militia, Dien said.
Numerous activists in Hanoi have complained that local authorities have deployed a large number of plainclothes agents to their private residences, making them de facto under house arrest as they do not allow activists to go out.
Vietnam has zero tolerance with spontaneous demonstrations and considered all peaceful protests as causing public disorders. Recently, Minister of Public Security Senior Lieutenant General To Lam ordered the security forces to take tougher measures to prevent spontaneous demonstrations amid increasing public dissatisfaction.
Hanoi claims Truong Sa (Spratlys) and Hoang Sa (Paracels) in the East Sea. The country effectively control 21 islands and reefs in the first archipelago while China still illegally occupies the second archipelago and seven reefs in the first after violently invading them from Vietnam in the 1956-1988 period. Recently, China turned seven Vietnamese reefs in Truong Sa into artificial islands and deploys aircrafts and military equipment to them.
Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei also control part of Truong Sa.
Vietnam is the most affected country from China’s aggressiveness in the East Sea as China has deployed giant oil rigs into Vietnam’s 200-nautical waters and inhumanely attacked Vietnamese fishermen in their traditional fishing grounds in the East Sea. Thousands Vietnamese fishermen have been beaten and dozens of them were killed by Chinese attacks in the past few years.
China has deployed modern ships, warplanes and missiles in Hoang Sa and Truong Sa, and threatens to set up Air Identification Defense Zone in the East Sea to limit the overflight there. In mid-June, Vietnam lost a Su-30MK2 jetfighter and a CASA-212 helicopter in the East Sea and many observers linked their crash to China’s threat.
Vietnam has verbally protested the Chinese aggressiveness in the East Sea. Hanoi threatens to bring China’s violations of its sovereignty to international courts, however, no specific move has been recorded. According to Deputy Defense Minister Gen. Nguyen Chi Vinh, China has asked the communist government in Hanoi not to take legal move to international courts but settle disputes bilaterally. Vietnam and China elevated their diplomatic ties to comprehensive strategic partnership in 2008 and the two communist nations regularly exchange high-ranking visits to deepen their ties.
Vietnam has violently suppressed anti-China protests since 2011, beating and arresting hundreds of demonstrators and holding them in social inhabitation facilities which are used to hold drug addicts and sex workers.
In addition, it has applied policies of suppression, intimidation and persecution against anti-China activists. Along with blocking economic activities of activists, the security forces have been assaulting them, causing serious injuries for the victims.
Last week, plainclothes agents brutally assaulted La Viet Dung from Hanoi and To Oanh from Bac Giang. Both Mr. Dung and Mr. Oanh are among most active figures in No-U movement initiated by Dr. Nguyen Quang A, the leading political dissident in the capital city.