Vietnam annually celebrates April 30 as the Reunification Day and Liberation of Saigon, a historical event that marked the end of the prolonged war which the Communist Party of Vietnam calls the “Resistance War Against America.” For the North under the Communist Party, or the South under the Ngo Dinh Diem regime, this war caused pain for both northern and southern citizens. For some activists, it is insensitive to celebrate April 30 as the Communist Party’s victory in defeating the “enemies,” because some of those “enemies” were fellow Vietnamese, and because of the “boat people” tragedy that happened after April 30, 1975 when hundreds of thousands of Southern Vietnamese fled the country as the discrimination against them by the new Northern authorities was insufferable.
As usual on this date, the authorities kept close watch of activists, whom they deem “reactionaries” for taking advantage of the holidays to protest and “disturb the public order.” Like the crackdown on Vietnam’s National Day, September 2, the authorities intensified harassment against activists prior to and after April 30.
Facebooker Hoang Ngoc Quyen and former political prisoner Do Van Thai were the early victims of this crackdown. Public security forces arrested them at 6:00 pm on April 27 when they were drinking coffee at Loc Vung cafeteria, Ha Huy Giap Street, District 12, Ho Chi Minh City. After being detained for 45 hours and beaten many times, Hoang Ngoc Quyen was released at 3:00 pm on April 29 while former political prisoner Do Van Thai’s situation has been unknown for ten days.
Do Van Thai, 59, was arrested on February 27, 2000 and imprisoned for 17 years under the charge of “carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration” (Article 79 of the 1999 Penal Code). While serving his prison sentence at Xuan Loc Detention Center, Dong Nai Province, he was infected with HIV due to using the same razor with another prisoner, which progressed into AIDS, without being offered any medical treatment. After his release, a prison mate invited Thai to live with him since he has no relatives. Updating on his situation is difficult and depends mainly on his prison mate.
It has been ten days since Thai’s last update. Based on the experiences of September crackdown, some activists predicted that Thai might be now detained at the detention center of Public Security Department, located at No.4, Phan Dang Luu Street, Ho Chi Minh City. This detention center is popular place to detain activists and “suspected” protesters.
Some other Facebookers arrested on the occasion of April 30 were Ngai Nam Tuoc (1978, real name Nguyen Dinh Khue), Las Plagas (1985, real name unknown), and Vy Bui (1983). According to Facebooker Pham Ngoc, who first shared their news on Facebook, the three Facebookers, living near each other at crossroads of Tam Hiep, Bien Hoa City, Dong Nai province, often post and share articles on the current national issues and criticize the government on Facebook. They were accused of calling for a demonstration for civil rights and were arrested on April 24, 2019, and have been detained at Detention Center B5 of Bien Hoa City.
One of Facebooker Ngai Nam Tuoc’s friends told Pham Ngoc that public security of Dong Nai Province went to search Khue’s house and arrested him at 6:00 pm on that day. Activists are trying to contact other people’s families to receive more update on their situation.
© 2019 The 88 Project
Featured image: Former political prisoner Do Van Thai. Source: Facebook Do Van Thai
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