Vietnamese-American Detained in Vietnam For ‘Disturbing Public Order’

Girls wearing face masks riding scooters in Hanoi

Girls wearing face masks riding scooters in Hanoi, Vietnam. Photo: Robert z Ziemi (Pixabay).

Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Thursday that it is detaining a Vietnamese-American citizen for “disturbing public order” for participating in a peaceful protest that turned violent in Ho Chi Minh City on June 9.

William (Will) Anh Nguyen, a 32-year-old graduate student from Houston, Texas, who is visiting Vietnam, tweeted about clashes between protesters and police over government plans to grant long-term leases to foreign companies operating in special economic zones (SEZs).

He was detained the following day in Ho Chi Minh City, also called Saigon, for participating in the protest where dozens of demonstrators were taken into custody, with some assaulted by police, sources told RFA in an earlier report.

“A consular visit for this individual is under arrangement, and there was no use of force concerning this individual,” ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang was quoted by Agence France-Presse as saying.

Last weekend, thousands of Vietnamese citizens in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Nha Trang in Khanh Hoa province, and Binh Thuan province, publicly demonstrated against the communist government’s plan to sign into law a decree on SEZs amid fears that leases for periods as long as 99 years in the areas could go to Chinese-owned and operated firms.

In one of several tweets about the protests, Nguyen said the Vietnamese were also demonstrating against encroachment by China and a cybersecurity bill that would further restrict citizens’ use of the internet.

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Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

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