Vietnam Right Now, Jan. 17, 2017: It started as a class for young would-be activists eager to learn about their political rights, and ended a few weeks later with a police raid and vicious assaults on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City. The violent attacks just before Christmas highlighted the perils of standing up for human rights and democratic freedoms in Vietnam’s one party state, where government critics are routinely subjected to intimidation and arrest. Doan Trang sent this report on how one group of independent minded young people incurred the wrath of the national security establishment.
When Hanah (her name has been changed to protect her identity) joined the class, she didn’t expect that a few weeks later she would be sitting in a chair being interrogated by a group of policemen and then be kicked to the ground and stomped on by a gang of toughs.
In her early twenties, Hanah came to Ho Chi Minh City from the countryside and took a job as a hairdresser’s apprentice. She saw few other prospects in the city, as she came from a poor family and had quit school at 16.
She became interested in politics and society when she joined thousands who took to the streets to demand answers over the government’s handling of a major environmental disaster off the north-central coast last April and May.
As a practicing Catholic and someone with a fast developing social conscience, she was appalled by the aggressive and brazen way in which police broke up the demonstrations in Ho Chi Minh City and elsewhere. Read More