Police out in force, arrest anti-China protesters

(VNRN) – Just one week after letting anti-China protests go forward in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and after protests in the provinces turned into riots hitting foreign manufacturers, the Vietnamese government yesterday reversed course and deployed massive forces to suppress a second weekend of protests arresting several bloggers.

Among those still detained are Gió Lang Thang, who had reported on the land grab situation in Hanoi, and Huynh Ngoc Hieu, the son of Huynh Ngoc Tuan and brother of Huynh Thuc Vy, two recipients of Human Rights Watch‘s Hellman-Hammett grant for persecuted writers.

Streets near the Chinese Embassy and Hanoi and the Chinese Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh were closed and dozens of police manning the barricades. Residents of HCMC’s District 1 near the Consulate General were warned not to come out during the planned protest times.

On Friday, Vietnam’s prime minister sent out mass text messages to every mobile phone in the country, warning that he has ordered the police and local governments to “implement all synchronous measures, absolute not allow illegal demonstrations, loss of security, order, social safety.”

While many observers think the turnaround is intended to prevent further violence, many others disagree, pointing out that protesters in the two major cities have always been peaceful and any gathering would have been far outnumbered by law enforcement.

Vanda Lam was beaten and taken, and has not been heard of for more than 24 hours now.

Nonetheless, PM Nguyen Tan Dung‘s text message meant no protests were allowed. Police in plainsclothes were posted outside many bloggers’ houses, keeping them from leaving. Paulo Thanh Nguyen reported that police were posted throughout his lodging house, including the doorman’s booth, the parking, and one at the top of the stairs on his floor.

A few did make it to the meeting point, but were caught and dragged away. Police with bullhorns pushed journalists away.

Vanda Lam, a college student, was beaten badly and taken away. More than 24 hours later, he still has not been heard from. He had been carrying a banner calling for unity among Vietnamese, with the current Vietnamese flag and the flag of the former Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) together.

The protests started when it became known that China had planted the giant oil rig CNOOC 981 in near the Paracel Islands, in Vietnam’s continental shell.

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