Lets Go Everywhere


Dissidents arrested yet again in Vietnam

 

 

Vietnam arrests foreign activists

Map

Vietnamese police have arrested six political activists, including four foreign citizens, in Ho Chi Minh City.

(BBC)

The activists – two Vietnamese, two American, one French and one Thai – were reportedly arrested after attending pro-democracy discussions.

Three of the six are members of a US-based anti-communist group.

The Vietnamese government exerts strong control over media and political activity. It has not yet commented on the arrests.

The US-based organisation Viet Tan (Vietnam Reform) said the activists were arrested on Saturday after they “participated in discussions with other democracy activists on promoting peaceful democratic change”.

It said their members were using examples of non-violent struggles around the world to “help empower the Vietnamese people.”

Vietnam says Viet Tan, which was established by a former south Vietnamese general in 1982, is a terrorist organisation and has staged a media campaign against it in recent months.

Seeking information

Among those arrested was Frenchwoman Nguyen Thi Thanh Van, a well-known campaigner and contributor to overseas Vietnamese-language media.

A press officer from the US embassy in Hanoi told the BBC the US was seeking information from the Vietnamese government regarding two US nationals.

There is no word on the charges they face.

The Paris-based campaign group Reporters Without Borders has condemned the arrests.

“We call for their immediate release since they were only engaged in peacefully promoting freedom of expression,” it said.

Vietnam has recently increased its efforts to silence political dissent and has jailed many activists who oppose the one party state system.

Watch yourself expats! The wrong word around your official minder and you’re outta here. I don’t think there’s a bribe big enough to get you out of ‘terrorism’ charges.

The government must be pretty scared if they are willing to go as far as arresting foreigners (Viet kieu, I hear) for attending a meeting, even if it was about democracy. Or maybe the country’s leaders are just used to dealing with black eyes and will do just about anything to preserve the one-party system so popular among the ruling class.

Still no word on the situation in the local English-language media… Though no big surprise there.

I tried to access the Viet Tan website but obviously it’s blocked within Vietnam. If anyone wants to send me a mirror or saved version I’d appreciate it!

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President Bush in a pretty silk dress
November 20, 2006, 10:37 am
Filed under: APEC, bush, capitalism/socialism, empires, expat, Hanoi, News and politics, Uncategorized, US, vietnam

What you’ve all been waiting for… United States President George W Bush in a silk ao dai.

 Picture pops! Re-jiggered and in proportion.

Bush in ao dai

Howdy to Ao Dai

“The colourful, elongated tunics of Vietnam’s traditional dress, the
Ao Dai, are worn with much grace by Vietnamese women and men – and
extreme unease by the US president George Bush. Donning the costume
over his suit for the obligatory “family photograph” alongside 20
other leaders of Asian and Pacific nations, Mr Bush grimaced
repeatedly and shifted from foot to foot, a portrait of embarrassment
in turquoise blue brocade with yellow trim. It was obvious he couldn’t
wait to get it off and sure enough, moments after the official
photographs were taken, he strode away, ripped it off and folded it
up, according to reports. His fellow leaders showed more restraint and
waited until they were out of sight.”

The Guardian



George Bush doesn’t care about Vietnamese shopkeepers

Hello friends, I know it’s been a while. I haven’t posted anything in ages due to the fact I’ve been levelled by a flu.Our new Swiss intern at the magazine brought me a nice, long-lasting European flu strain that had me in bed for days. The worst part was the headache — like a jackerhammer in my head for hours. Ahhh, and shivering with cold in 35 degree heat. Nice!

No worries though; today I am on the mend and I plan to get him back somehow.

The sicktime has also given me a chance to catch up on my reading — I finished re-reading Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance and started Static by Amy & David Goodman. Static is good, so far, and A Fine Balance is one of my all-time favourites.

While browsing HuffPo today, I noticed this article from the New York Times:

Unlike Clinton, Bush Sees Hanoi in Bit of a Hurry

Hanoi, Sunday, Nov. 19 — President Bush likes speed golf and speed tourism — this is the man who did the treasures of Red Square in less than 20 minutes — but here in the lake-studded capital of a nation desperately eager to connect with America, he set a record.

On Saturday, Mr. Bush emerged from his hotel for only one nonofficial event, a 15-minute visit to the Joint P.O.W./M.I.A. Accounting Command, which searches for the remains of the 1,800 Americans still listed as missing in the Vietnam War.

There were almost no Vietnamese present, just a series of tables displaying photographs of the group’s painstaking work, and helmets, shoes and replicas of bones recovered by the 425 members of the command. He asked a few questions and then sped off in his motorcade. …

Waiting for One More Star

The Hadong Silk shop in this city’s Old Quarter is the first port of call for well-heeled visitors on the hunt for the tailor-made silkwares for which Vietnam has become famous. This weekend, with heads of state from 21 countries in town for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, a parade of dignitaries streamed in for fittings of made-to-order shirts, dresses and suits.

Laureen Harper, the wife of Canada’s prime minister, Stephen Harper, showed up on Friday, made a few purchases and signed the guestbook for Dang Thi Thu Thuy, the petite, exquisitely dressed owner. Ditto for Australia’s first lady, Janette Howard.

But Mrs. Thuy was searching for more. “We really hope that Mrs. Bush will come into our store,” she says. “We are waiting for her, but she hasn’t come.”

The walls of Hadong Silk are lined with giant framed photos of Hillary Rodham Clinton, who came to the shop during Mr. Clinton’s visit in 2000. There is a photo of Mrs. Clinton towering over three saleswomen, another of her standing next to Mrs. Thuy, both clad in silk suits, and one upstairs of her, surrounded by Secret Service agents, perusing silk blouses.

Vu Thi Thu Huong, a saleswoman, said the shop was so excited after Mrs. Clinton left, having bought 10 raw silk shirts for her husband, that the distinctive square collar on their men’s silk shirts was renamed the “Bill Clinton Collar.”

So, will there be a “George Bush Collar”?

Mrs. Thuy shrugged. “I’m not sure,” she said. She gestured to her camera, and said, “If she comes we will take her picture, too.”

Mrs. Bush visited the Temple of Literature, a monument to the legacy of Confucius, and the Museum of Ethnology, which focuses on Vietnam’s 54 ethnic groups. With the spouses of other leaders, she saw water puppets. It is unclear whether she bought any silk.

Clinton in Vietnam

Just more proof Bush doesn’t care about Vietnamese shopkeepers. At least though, the women folk got a chance to see the water puppet show. No matter what anyone says, that’s some good entertainment!

Scott, have any delegates stopped by Ipa-Nima? If so, who , and what did they buy?? Inquiring minds need to know.



Public Power In The Age Of Empire

As I reflect on the results of the US midterm elections I am reminded of a brilliant speech by Arundhati Roy called “Public Power In The Age Of Empire”.

Here you can listen to it in podcast format. An added bonus are folk songs by Utah Philips.

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No one’s watching

Canada #2 in maintaining personal privacy
KATIE FRETLAND
Canadian Press and Associated Press
Pub. Globe And Mail Oct 31

LONDON — Germany and Canada are the best defenders of privacy, and Malaysia and China the worst, an international rights group said in a report released Wednesday (Oct 31).
Britain was rated as an endemic surveillance society, at No. 33, just above Russia and Singapore on a ranking of 37 countries’ privacy protections by London-based Privacy International.
The United States did only slightly better, at No. 30, ranked between Israel and Thailand, with few safeguards and widespread surveillance, the group said.
The study ranks countries on various privacy-related issues. These include whether they have a written constitution with specific mention of privacy, the use of identity cards and biometrics, electronic surveillance including closed-circuit TV cameras, interception of communication, access of law-enforcement agencies to private data, surveillance of travel and financial transactions, and global leadership in promoting privacy.
On a scale of one to five, Canada scored three or higher in all categories.
Canada received the highest ranking of five for its legal limits on the keeping of private data….

This seems like good news for Canadians and Germans, and bad news for the citizens of world powers who like to talk about freedom and democracy but who violate and destroy the liberities of their own people.

I’m talking about you George Bush Jr., Tony Blair and Robert Mugabe.

At least regimes like Than Shwe’s in Myanmar don’t really claim to be into democracy or freedom. They are happy with their military junta and will only be removed at gunpoint. Vietnam transforms the word ‘democracy’ into meaning farmers can choose between one Communist member and another Communist member to represent them at the lowest level.
Freedom means you have the freedom not to be bombed to shit on a daily basis.

And then places like Thailand actually use tanks and soldiers to incite a situation they believe will restore democracy by wresting power from the hands of an elected tyrant. Freedom meaning, sometimes you have to have the will to take strong medicine.

That makes me think that the US could learn from Thailand… but I won’t get into that too deeply just yet.

Here’s the official rankings, some countries are tied.

Best Protectors of Civilian Privacy
1. Germany
2. Canada
3. Belgium
3. Austria
5. Greece
6. Argentina
6. Hungary
8. France
8. Poland
8. Portugal
8. Cyprus
12. Finland
13. Italy
13. Luxembourg
13. Latvia
13. Estonia
13. Malta
18. Denmark
18. Czech Republic
18. Ireland
18. Lithuania
18. New Zealand
18. Slovakia
24. Australia
24. Spain
26. Slovenia
26. Netherlands
28. Israel
28. Sweden
30. United States
31. Thailand
31. Philippines
33. Britain
34. Singapore
34. Russia
36. Malaysia
36. China



Kentucky Fried Communism
November 1, 2006, 9:08 am
Filed under: capitalism/socialism, consumerism, expat, freedom, Hanoi, politics, vietnam

The news in Hanoi has gone from bad to worse.
The place we all escape to in order to detox ourselves of fast food, Starbucks coffee and 7/11 slurpees is building a 2ND KFC outlet, this one in the much more central location of Ba Trieu, or steps away from the Vincom Tower mall.
While exiting the nearby Asahi Shushi restaurant Scott and I witnessed the raising of the signboard. A dubious moment in Hanoi history.

Do the Vietnamese really need a fried trans fat outlet, or does KFC Co. really need a piece of the lucrative and as of yet uneducated Asian market?
Yeah, there’s not much talk about the dangers of trans fats here. A GREAT place for a artery-clogging grease factory.

Like cigarette companies who came before them, fast food outlets, strip malls, social isolation, home invasions and perhaps eventually sidewalk crack dealers are on the horizon for an increasingly rich Vietnam.
Mo’ money mo’ problems, everyone knows that.
Quite an irony for a supposedly socialist country.

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