Vietnam: Prison Sentences Imposed on Farmers for Protesting Land Grab

[Nearly 40 years after the defeat of the US in Vietnam, the faux “socialist” regime has continued semi-feudal relations amidst a very corrupt capitalist regime.  The long struggle of the Vietnamese people continues under these exploitive and repressive conditions today.  —  Frontlines ed.]

SEPTEMBER 20, 2014

Can Thi Theu

VNRN – Three land activists from Duong Noi [Dương Nội], a village in suburban Hanoi mostly known for its long-standing land disputes, on Friday appeared before the Ha Dong People’s Court. While they were on trial, dozens of their supporters were barred from approaching the courtroom; many were temporarily arrested, including their family members.

Mrs. Can Thi Theu [Cấn Thị Thêu], 52, and her husband, Trinh Ba Khiem [Trịnh Bá Khiêm], 56, were given 15 and 18 months of imprisionment respectively for “resisting persons in the performance of their official duties” under Article 257 of the Penal Code. The third accused, Mr. Le Van Thanh [Lê Văn Thanh], was sentenced to 12 months in prison.

The three were arrested after a land grab on April 25. Mrs. Can Thi Theu was reportedly shooting a video footage of the eviction where her husband and other farmers got beaten by police forces. The police then tried to stop her by allegedly giving her anaesthetic before taking her away. The video clip, spread subsequently on Facebook, showed a violent conflict between the farmers of Duong Noi and foreces of police and social order defenders. Continue reading

When they tell you “resistance is futile”: Remember the Cu Chi Tunnels

[During the US war on Vietnam, the collective determination and perseverance of the Vietnamese was matched by an extraordinary resourcefulness against the US occupation/war in the South.  One of the best examples of the creative response the liberation struggle made to US aggression, was the creation of a vast tunnel network underground–the most famous one (of many) was known as the Cu Chi Tunnels, as told in this documentary.  This is more than a historic memory, as one cannot imagine how the highly-touted UAV/drones of contemporary counter-insurgency warfare would prevail against such tunnels and other resourceful forms of popular resistance and revolution in present times.  — Frontlines ed.]

THE CU CHI TUNNELS (with English subtitles)

This film was the first to be shot in Vietnam since the war ended. Director Mickey Grant started shooting it in 1986 on 16mm film and it premiered on 35mm film at a Saigon theater in 1990 with all the cast of former Viet Cong present and ended with a standing ovation that lasted over 30 minutes. Continue reading

US hegemony-media on the US’ military “pivot” to Asia

[This year has seen US power beginning to shift its central focus from the middle east to Asia.  In line with this, the Pentagon has been making new deals for military force “visitations” and deployments, from Okinawa to Guam, Australia, and Philippines, along with new force buildups in Hawaii, Taiwan, Korea, and “joint operational and training” arrangements with India, Vietnam and elsewhere.  This article, from TIME magazine in July, explores the responses to, and embraces of, these US moves in the Philippines. — Frontlines ed.]

American ‘Pivot’ to Asia Divides the Philippines

Recent trouble in the South China Sea has renewed debate as to whether the U.S. is a trusted friend, or an old foe

By Catherine Traywick , TIME magazine, July 23, 2012

Romeo Ranoco / Reuters — Members of a militant women’s group hold up placards condemning the joint Philippine-U.S. military exercises during a protest in front of the U.S. embassy in Manila on April 27, 2012 

Bai Ali Indayla, a human-rights worker and antimilitary activist, has met just one American soldier. They convened at a picnic table inside a Philippine army camp in Mindanao in 2010 to discuss the alleged suicide of a Filipino who died under mysterious circumstances after starting a job with the U.S. military’s counterterrorism program. Indayla believed the death was suspicious, and she wanted answers, but her first and only interaction with a U.S. soldier earned her none. He was dismissive, she says, as well as arrogant and profane. After a brief and terse exchange, he walked out of the meeting without warning, and she walked away with all of her prejudices soundly affirmed.

The encounter, colored by her mistrust and his apparent indifference, reflects an enduring dynamic at play between two forces in Philippine society: the U.S. military, whose decades-long occupation of the islands eventually gave way to civil unrest, and a small but historically significant network of activists who believe the former’s presence is tantamount to neocolonialism. As China more aggressively asserts its claim over the South China Sea and the U.S. ponders a “pivot” to Asia, the gap between these groups seems to widen, calling fresh attention to the question of U.S.-Philippine ties.

The relationship between ordinary Filipinos and U.S. armed forces is a tortured one, dating back to America’s “liberation” of the Philippines from colonial Spain more than a century ago. The U.S. takeover of the Philippines in 1899 kicked off a short, bloody war, during which Filipinos were forced into reconcentrados (a type of concentration camp), massacred in their villages and subjected to a new torture technique now known as waterboarding. When the U.S. finally gave the Philippines its independence in 1945, sprawling American military bases remained — and with them, an exploding sex industry and a legacy of human-rights violations widely publicized by the national press.

A decades-long antimilitary movement culminated in the 1991 closure of American bases and the ousting of U.S. troops. Yet American forces have nevertheless maintained a limited but continuous presence in the country, where they conduct regular joint training exercises and have, in recent years, extended antiterrorism efforts. Dubbed “the second front of the war on terror” in 2002, western Mindanao has played host to 600-strong U.S. troop rotations as they pursue two al-Qaeda-linked terrorist groups. Though officially base-less, barracks, ports and communications infrastructure emerged within and near the Philippine military camps that host American soldiers. This year, the Aquino administration granted the U.S. Navy permission to use the former U.S. base in Subic Bay for the service of U.S. warships. Continue reading

General Giap–Military Strategist/Commander of Vietnam’s Liberation Forces–is 100 years old

The famous independence hero was born August 25, 1911 in a central-north province. His name is linked to the wars against the French, Japanese and U.S.. He is still remembered for the battle of Dien Bien Phu in the plain, in 1954, which ended the war in Indochina….

General Vo Nguyen Giap in 1953, planning the battle of Dien Bien Phu--the Waterloo for French colonial forces in Vietnam

Thursday, August 25, 2011

By Asia News

Hanoi – After defeating the French, Japanese and Americans one after the other, he also seems to have defeated time itself: General Vo Nguyen Giap, hero of the Vietnamese, today celebrates his 100th birthday. He was born August 25, 1911 in central-north Quang Binh province to a poor family, composed of seven siblings, some of whom died young. Politically active since his school years, he was expelled from a school in Hue for organizing student protests. But his name is tied hand in glove with the wars in Indochina in the second half of the 1900’s, so much so that the Vietnamese people consider him the second most important national personality, only after “Uncle” Ho Chi Minh. Continue reading

Inter-imperialist rivalry in Asia heats up between US and China

Obama and Hu Jintao make nice for public consumption


[This article provides a useful overview of the current state of economic, political and military contention between the US and China in Asia. However, it does not not identify China as an imperialist power in its own right, and it one-sidely portrays the US imperialists as “encircling” China. This makes it impossible to understand the capitalist/imperialist nature of China’s growing economic investments in Asia, as well as China’s development of military ties with Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. This not a “defensive” reaction to pressure from US imperialism, but is a calculated strategy of a newly emerged imperialist power that is trying to break into the US’ traditional spheres of influence in Asia, and elsewhere in the world.–Frontlines ed]

World Socialist Web Site, 13 November 2010

US diplomatic offensive tightens strategic encirclement of China

Washington’s aggressive diplomatic campaign in Asia over the past two weeks has amounted, in the words of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to “a full court press” against China, with the western Pacific and the Indian Ocean emerging as potential future theatres of war.

President Barack Obama’s visits to India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan, and Clinton’s trips to Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Australia, sought to either strengthen existing alliances or create new partnerships for a US-led strategic encirclement of China.

Obama fervently courted India, China’s regional nuclear-armed rival. He urged New Delhi to become a “world power” and backed its bid to become a UN Security Council permanent member. Clinton twice reiterated that Washington could invoke the US-Japan Security Treaty to militarily support Japan against China in the conflict over the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands in the East China Sea. Vietnam announced it was ready to hire out its strategic Cam Ranh Bay port in the South China Sea “to naval ships from all countries”—with Washington the most likely client. Canberra agreed to provide greater US access to its military facilities, especially those in northern Australia. Continue reading

Hungarian disaster revives Vietnam’s bauxite mine fears

An aerial view shows the broken dam responsible for the toxic flood near Devecser, Hungary, October 7. Pollution levels from the red sludge spill have subsided in the Danube and there is no risk of a biological or environmental catastrophe in the major European waterway, Hungarian officials said on October 8. There were still no estimates of the financial damage wrought by the sludge — waste from bauxite refining that has a strong caustic effect — over an area of 800-1,000 hectares (1,920-2,400 acres).

While the government wants to exploit the world’s largest reserves of the ore, others are not so keen

By Jonathan Manthorpe, Vancouver Sun
November 8, 2010

Protests in Vietnam against plans for six massive bauxite mines coupled with fears of Chinese economic imperialism have revived following last month’s toxic spill in Hungary that killed nine people and destroyed three villages.

The government of Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has grudgingly agreed to review the bauxite mine and alumina production projects planned for the Central Highlands after receiving a much-publicized letter from 1,500 noted former politicians and intellectuals calling for new studies of the scheme.

“The disaster in Hungary is a serious warning to Vietnam,” said the letter, whose signatories included former vice-president Nguyen Thi Binh and former deputy minister of natural resources and environment Dang Hung Vo.

But although government spokesmen have said “It is necessary to listen to concerns of the public and intellectuals,” the tone and body language suggest there is no enthusiasm for halting the development of what, at 5.5 billion tonnes, are said to be some of the world’s largest reserves of the ore from which aluminum is produced. Continue reading

Vietnam: “The Cu Chi Tunnels”

[The American War in Vietnam became a legendary turning point for imperialism, and for the people’s struggles worldwide.  The defeat of the US by the Vietnamese people continues to inspire struggles against imperialism and reaction worldwide today.  Yet, with the passage of time, many do not know how the resistance was waged.  This story of the Cu Chi Tunnels gives a picture of how the Vietnamese people’s resistance , with great determination, resilience and resourcefulness,  was able to win victory against what looked like insurmountable odds.–Frontlines ed.]

THE CU CHI TUNNELS (with subtitles as told by America’s former enemy), running time 59:16

This film was the first to be shot in Vietnam since the war ended. Director Mickey Grant started shooting it in 1986 on 16mm film and it premiered on 35mm film at a Saigon theater in 1990 with all the cast of former Viet Cong present and ended with a standing ovation that lasted over 30 minutes. During the war in Vietnam, thousands of people in the Vietnamese province of Cu Chi lived in an elaborate system of underground tunnels. Originally built in the time of the French, the tunnels were enlarged during the American presence.

When the Americans began bombing the villages of Cu Chi, the survivors went underground where they remained for the duration of the war. The secret tunnels, which joined village to village and often passes beneath American bases, were not only fortifications for Viet Cong guerillas, but were also the center of community life. Continue reading

Vietnam sentences independent unionists to 7-9 years in prison

Protect Viet Workers, October 31, 2010

Mr Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung inside the Vietnamese court, surrounded by the police.

Mr Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung inside the Vietnamese court, surrounded by the police.

On 27th October 2010, Vietnam sentenced Doan Huy Chuong, Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung, and Do Thi Minh Hanh to 7, 9, and 7 years respectively, for distributing leaflets complaining about wages, for being in contact with my group, and for helping workers organise a 10,000-strong strike at the My Phong shoe factory. They had been held without charges since February 2010.

As an indication that the trial’s outcomes were pre-decided, at 5 pm the day before, 26th October, the state-run Cong An Nhan Dan actually posted an online news item announcing that “On 27 October, the court sentenced..”

At her arrest, witnesses saw police punching the petite 5-feet tall Hanh in the face, her lips dripping blood. As to Hung, it can be seen that he has lost much weight, probably not because in jail he is body-image conscious. Our information is that in jail, all three were physically and mentally abused. Chuong’s and Hanh’s families were allowed one visit each during the 8 months. Hung’s was not allowed even 1 visit. Continue reading

US-Chinese rivalry looms over Hillary Clinton’s visit to Vietnam

[The two articles that follow (promoting American interests) paint a detailed picture of the growing rivalry in Southeast Asia between US imperialism and China, which has emerged as an imperialist power in its own right.  While Vietnam like China is a thoroughly capitalist country with a one-party state that masquerades as “communist”, and has been propped up by billions of dollars in foreign investment in all areas of its economy, it is worried about its big northern neighbor.  Now the Vietnamese government is being courted aggressively by the US in order to counter China’s growing economic and military power. This will be a bitter experience for many Vietnamese who experienced the US war that killed upwards of 2 million soldiers and civilians and ravaged their country from 1965-75.  A US-Vietnam alliance may sail into some rough waters in the years ahead.-ed]

US Secretary of State Clinton appearing in Hanoi with Vietnamese general


China’s rise prompts Vietnam to strengthen ties to other nations

Washington Post, October 30, 2010

HANOI – Three weeks ago, an exhibition opened at the Vietnam Military History Museum. On one side of a long hall, the mementos of Vietnam’s 25 years of war against the United States and France – letters of surrender, quotations from Ho Chi Minh, hand grenades and AK-47 rifles – lined the walls. Nothing new there.

But on the other side, the History Museum was actually making history. Along those walls hung daggers, paintings and quotations from Vietnam’s struggle with another rival: imperial China.  Battles dating to 1077, 1258 and the 14th and 18th centuries were featured in intricate detail.

Putting China on a par with “Western aggressors” marks a psychological breakthrough for Vietnam’s military and is troubling news for Beijing. For years, China has tried to forge a special relationship with Vietnam’s Communist government. But China’s rise – and its increasingly aggressive posture toward Vietnam – has alarmed the leadership of this country of 90 million, prompting it to look differently at its neighbor.

Beijing risks losing its status here of a fraternal Communist partner and being relegated to its longtime place as the empire on Vietnam’s northern border that has shaped and bedeviled this country for centuries. That change of perception has led Vietnam to embark on an extraordinary undertaking to befriend the world as a hedge against China. And prominent among its new intimates is the United States, which is equally eager for partners to help it cope with Beijing. Continue reading

Vietnamese authorities charge labor activists with “disrupting security”

Oct 18, 2010

Hanoi – Vietnamese authorities have brought charges against three labour activists for ‘disrupting security,’ an official said Monday.

The indictment said the three often contacted and received money from Tran Ngoc Thanh, chairman of the Warsaw-based Committee to Protect Vietnamese Workers, to print and distribute anti-government leaflets and to foment labour strikes. It said ‘those offenders’ crimes are very serious, operated and organized with the intention to destroy the country’s security, and need punishing.’

The accused are Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung, 29, Do Thi Minh Hanh and Doan Huy Chuong, both 25 years old, said Nguyen To Toan, deputy head of security department No 2 of the prosecutor’s office.

In November 2006, Chuong established the United Workers-Farmers Organization of Vietnam (UWFO) to advocate for labour rights. He was arrested and sentenced to 18 months in prison in December 2007 for ‘abusing democratic freedoms,’ but was released on May 13, 2008 due to poor health. Continue reading

India enlists aid from imperialists, Zionists–and now from Vietnam–in the fight against tribals and Maoists

[India’s “Operation Green Hunt”,  facing significant political opposition and militant resistance from the Indian people, is drawing in technical resources and military training from imperialist and Zionist forces. Now, Vietnam’s government, having long turned to the capitalist market and friendly relations with imperialism, is sending forces to train Indian counter-insurgency forces waging an internal war against tribal people, Maoists, and independence movements in Kashmir, Manipur, Assam and elsewhere. This story (and snarky headline) from The Telegraph gloats over Vietnam’s turnabout on revolution, but the spirit of resistance, once led by Vietnamese, is now unmistakably carried by the tribals and the Maoists in India.–ed.]

The Telegraph, Calcutta, India

October 14, 2010

Ho! Look who’s teaching army-Hanoi tie-up in Maoist time

New Delhi: The Indian Army has decided to learn from the masters of the bush war — Vietnam — in the middle of an intensive study of Maoist military tactics.

The irony is hard to miss. When the Naxalites emerged in India in the late-1960s, a popular slogan that reverberated in Bengal was “Tomar naam, amar naam, Vietnam, Vietnam”.  Translated it means “Your name, my name, Vietnam, Vietnam”, but the English does not have quite the same ring as the passionate Bengali in which the slogan was chorused.

That was in solidarity with the Communist-led resistance war against the Americans and their puppet South Vietnamese government. The struggle that drove the Americans out in 1975 was probably the most successful guerrilla war in modern history.

Today, nearly 35 years later, defence minister A.K. Antony and his Vietnamese counterpart General Phung Quang Thanh — a hero of that guerrilla war — agreed that the armies of the two countries will begin joint exercises from next year. Continue reading

China’s exploitation of Vietnamese migrant workers

Los Angeles Times,  September 19, 2010

Reporting from Aidian, China

Illegal immigrants pour across border seeking work

The illegal immigrants come seeking higher wages, steady employment and a chance at better lives for their families. They cross the border in remote stretches where there are no fences or they pay traffickers to sneak them past border guards.  Then they work as maids, harvest crops or toil hunched in sweatshops.

As familiar as this sounds, this is not the United States or Europe, but China, which is attracting an increasing number of undocumented workers to fill the bottom rungs of its booming economy. Tens of thousands of foreigners from Southeast Asia, North Korea and even faraway Africa are believed to be working here illegally.Among the most active areas for the furtive crossings is China’s 800-mile southern borders with Vietnam, whose people are drawn by jobs in China that may pay twice as much as they do at home.

“People are struggling for money in Vietnam. They look at China and think it’s rich,” said Anh Bang, a 23-year-old Vietnamese clothing merchant who travels legally to China several times a month but empathizes with those who enter without documents. “In China they can find a job easily and earn so much more.” Continue reading

40th Anniversary: Laos to open Battle of Ban Dong war museum next year

Remains of US made ARVN tank along a branch of the Ho Chi Minh Trail near Ban Dong. The tank was destroyed during Operation Lam Son 719 in 1971. The man in the photo is a resident of Ban Dong.

2010-09-08, dpa

Vientiane, Laos – Communist Laos is planning to open a museum to commemorate 1971’s Battle of Ban Dong, one of the pivotal clashes in the Indochina War, media reports said Wednesday.

The Lao-Viet Commemorative War Museum, which cost 5 billion kip (625,000 dollars) to build, was due to open to the public next year in Dong village in Savannakhet province in southern Laos near the site of the battle, also called the Lamson 719 battle.

The fighting pitted communist Lao and Vietnamese troops against the South Vietnamese army and its US allies. The confrontation lasted from February 8 to March 20, 1971, and ended in a resounding victory for the communist forces. It was seen as a turning point in the Indochina War, which eventually ended with a communist victory in 1975.

“The Lamson 719 battle in Xepon district was one of many places in Laos that witnessed heavy conflict during the struggle against foreign aggressors,” said Bounauer Phomkhe, deputy director of the Savannakhet provincial Labour and Social Welfare Department. Continue reading

US imperialism’s growing investment in Vietnam

[As unrestrained foreign investment grows in formerly socialist countries, the class struggle has intensified and taken many forms.-ed]

A Taiwanese-owned Nike shoe factory in Vietnam went on strike in April

Vietnam-US relations grow fast, says Vietnamese diplomat

Tuesday, 13/07/2010

Vietnamese Ambassador to the US Le Cong Phung made the remark in an interview granted to Washington-based Vietnamese reporters on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the normalisation of the two countries’ diplomatic relations (July 12).

While assessing the bilateral ties over the past 15 years, Phụng said that these are special relations.

“The two countries experienced a period of ups and downs, especially the war heritages, and it is unimaginable that the bilateral ties have developed so well,” Phung said.

The Ambassador noted that the US leaders are all determined to boost ties with Vietnam, referring to Vietnam policies of the two former administrations of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and the current administration of Barack Obama. Continue reading