Voters barred from meeting national assembly members

A group of young, pro-democracy constituents on Friday were barred from entering a meeting between voters of Hoan Kiem district and the delegation of Hanoi national assembly deputies.

In their previous public announcement, the Hanoi National Assembly delegation said they would meet constituents of Hoan Kiem district on May 8, and Ba Dinh and Tay Ho districts on the next day.

The national assembly deputies that would meet up with constituents include Nguyen Phu Trong, the current leader of the Vietnamese Communist Party.

Some environmentalists, members of the “For A Green Hanoi” Facebook group, believed this would be “a marvelous opportunity” for the group to “exercise their citizens’ rights” by questioning their representatives at the meeting.

Around ten young members of the group actually came to the Hoan Kiem district’s hall, with a list of queries for the National Assembly deputies.

Plainclothes police were filming the environment activists.

Plainclothes police filming the environment activists.

However, all of them were stopped outside the hall. Dozens of police and plainclothes security agents were deployed in the area to prevent the environmentalists, mostly young people, from getting inside, and to take photos of them.

Then the deputies’ mission of meeting voters was passed on to the vice-chairman of the Hoan Kiem People’s Committee, Mr. Lam Quoc Hung, and a representative from the Hanoi Department of Construction. In response to the young environmentalists, both just said “the inspection process is ongoing.” However, they promised that they would hand the questions to Nguyen Phu Trong, General Secretary of the VCP and Hanoi’s national assembly deputy, within ten days.

Meeting voters is said to be a procedure that national assembly deputies implement in their constituency on a regular basis. But most of the meetings are heavily symbolic and often neglected by the public, and it is understandable that the young environmentalists were hardly welcomed by the authorities, who always set a vigilant eye on activists, trying to find reasons to isolate them from the community.

A police officer was pointing at the environmentalists, shouting, "Disperse! Disperse immediately or we'll take you away."

A police officer was pointing at the environmentalists, shouting, “Disperse! Disperse immediately or we’ll take you away.”

"You can't get in," said the policeman to the young environmentalists.

“You can’t get in,” said the policeman to the young environmentalists.