Amer­i­can detained, ‘beaten’ af­ter join­ing Viet­nam protests

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Asean Focus -

AN Amer­i­can cit­i­zen of Viet­namese de­scent has been detained in Viet­nam af­ter join­ing a protest over a con­tro­ver­sial draft law on spe­cial eco­nomic zones that pro­test­ers fear would favour Chi­nese in­vestors.

Fam­ily and friends said in a state­ment that Will Nguyen “was beaten over the head and dragged into the back of a po­lice truck” af­ter po­lice moved to break up the protest on Sun­day.

The state­ment is­sued Thurs­day said Nguyen was taken to a po­lice sta­tion, but his cur­rent health con­di­tion and where­abouts are un­known.

Viet­nam’s For­eign Min­istry spokes­woman Le Thi Thu Hang told re­porters at a reg­u­lar press brief­ing that Nguyen was “be­ing held for dis­turb­ing public or­der.”

The US Em­bassy in Hanoi said in a state­ment that it was aware of me­dia re­ports that a US cit­i­zen had been detained and said it would of­fer as­sis­tance. It de­clined fur­ther com­ment, cit­ing “pri­vacy con­cerns.”

The state­ment from his friends and fam­ily said Nguyen was vis­it­ing Viet­nam ahead of his grad­u­a­tion from a mas­ter’s de­gree pro­gramme at the Univer­sity of Sin­ga­pore.

A video from the protests shows Nguyen with blood on his face and be­ing dragged by a group of men. He is later shown stand­ing on the bed of a po­lice pick-up truck.

Ms Hang said that there was no use of force and that con­sular vis­its were be­ing ar­ranged.

State me­dia have re­ported that po­lice in the south cen­tral prov­ince of Binh Thuan had ini­tially detained more than 200 peo­ple for dis­turb­ing public or­der, most were re­leased af­ter pledg­ing not to re­peat their ac­tions, but 12 re­main in po­lice cus­tody for ques­tion­ing.

The official Viet­nam News Agency said pro­test­ers burned a dozen po­lice ve­hi­cles and more than 40 po­lice­men were in­jured in clashes with the pro­test­ers dur­ing the events on Sun­day and Mon­day.

Pro­test­ers also dam­aged prop­erty at sev­eral govern­ment build­ings and po­lice sta­tions, it said.

De­mon­stra­tions against the pro­posed law took place Sun­day through­out the coun­try, in­clud­ing in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

The Na­tional As­sem­bly voted Mon­day to de­lay pas­sage of the leg­is­la­tion un­til the next ses­sion in Oc­to­ber to al­low more re­search. – AP

A mo­tor­cy­clist looks at charred ve­hi­cles burned by pro­test­ers at a fire and po­lice sta­tion in Binh Thuan prov­ince, Viet­nam, on Tues­day. Photo: AP

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