US man detained in Viet­nam af­ter vi­o­lent protests

The Borneo Post - - WORLD -

HANOI: An Amer­i­can cit­i­zen is be­ing held in Viet­nam for ‘dis­rupt­ing public or­der’ af­ter he joined vi­o­lent protests over a con­tro­ve­rial spe­cial eco­nomic zone draft law, an official said Thurs­day.

Wil­liam Anh Nguyen, 32, took part in one of sev­eral ral­lies in the com­mu­nist coun­try on Sun­day, where pro­test­ers ac­cused the govern­ment of plan­ning to grant China lengthy land leases in the zones.

More than 100 peo­ple were detained in south­ern Binh Thuan prov­ince af­ter de­mon­stra­tions quickly spun out of con­trol when ri­ot­ers lit cars on fire and dam­aged govern­ment prop­erty.

Large crowds who gath­ered in Ho Chi Minh City, in­clud­ing Nguyen, who was ar­rested Sun­day and is be­ing held for “dis­rupt­ing public or­der”, For­eign Min­istry spokes­woman Le Thi Thu Hang told re­porters Thurs­day.

“A con­sular visit for this in­di­vid­ual is un­der arrangement and there was no use of force con­cern­ing this in­di­vid­ual,” she added.

A fam­ily friend cit­ing rel­a­tives con­firmed that Nguyen, a Tex­as­born Yale grad­u­ate, was detained Sun­day in Ho Chi Minh City dur­ing the protests.

Nguyen, who is set to re­ceive a Mas­ters de­gree in Sin­ga­pore next month, had ar­rived in Viet­nam on Satur­day.

He tweeted photos of huge crowds demon­strat­ing in Ho Chi Minh with the cap­tion “This is # democ­racy in #Viet­nam”.

He also posted a photo of a man on the ground sur­rounded by crowds and wrote: “Po­lice struck a pro­tes­tor and chaos has bro­ken out”.

The US em­bassy in Hanoi said it was “aware of me­dia re­ports that a US cit­i­zen was ar­rested in Viet­nam”, spokesman Pope Thrower told AFP.

“When a US cit­i­zen is detained over­seas, the US De­part­ment of State works to pro­vide all ap­pro­pri­ate con­sular as­sis­tance,” he added in a state­ment.

The week­end de­mon­stra­tions – rare in the one party- state where public protests are banned or quickly bro­ken up – forged ahead in sev­eral cities, in­clud­ing the cap­i­tal Hanoi, even af­ter the govern­ment said it would de­lay a vote on the spe­cial eco­nomic zones.

The draft law, which made no spe­cific men­tion of Chi­nese in­vestors, orig­i­nally pro­posed land leases of 99 years but the govern­ment later said it would re­duce the rental terms.

Hanoi and Bei­jing have had a dicey re­la­tion­ship since a deadly border war in 1979. — AFP

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