Incident Group: Activists harassed on January 19, 2019 while honoring soldiers of the former South Vietnam

Hoang Sa Naval Battle - 1974 (known as the Battle of the Paracel Islands) is an important event in the history of the territorial sea conflict between Vietnam and China, where the navy forces of the Republic of Vietnam (ROV - South Vietnam) engaged in a direct battle against the Chinese counterpart. The battle was an attempt by the South Vietnamese to defend the Paracel Islands vicinity from the Chinese expansion forces. Yet, due to the divided resources and more pressing concerns in the mainland (particularly North Vietnam’s possible invasion), Saigon lost the battle with more than 100 South Vietnamese killed or wounded.

Nowadays, January 19 is usually considered the commemoration day by Vietnamese to honor the fallen soldiers of the ROV for their sacrifice to protect the territorial integrity of Vietnam. While benefiting from the historical fact that China violated the peremptory norm of the UN Charter to take over the Paracel Islands from the legitimate control of the ROV, Ha Noi continues to portray ROV as a “puppet” government with a “reactionary” armed forces, regularly committing war crimes, hence the hostility toward anyone participating in such commemoration.

In 2019, activists trying to raise public awareness on the event faced harassment and physical assault.