Hammered and sickled: Vietnam’s protests mounting


Vietnam’s Communist Party is in a weaker position than it seems. Protests are mounting and economic growth will be hard to revive, the Economist observes:

Although the party does not allow any formal opposition, informal criticism has been growing. Improved education and internet access have exposed Vietnamese to “universal values like democracy and human rights”, says Nguyen Khac Giang, an analyst who lives in New Zealand. Moreover, there were 65m social-media users in Vietnam in 2020, according to We Are Social, a British firm, out of a population of almost 100m. In contrast to the “authoritarian public sphere” offline, notes Mr Nguyen, “you have relatively liberal and free social-media platforms where you can speak out your views.”

As Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party gears up for its most important meeting in years, its leadership has presided over an intensified crackdown on dissent, according to rights groups, activists and data collated by Reuters. A record number of political prisoners, longer jail terms, and increased harassment of activists in recent years have contributed to the crackdown ahead of this week’s Communist Party congress, a gathering to determine national leadership and policy that takes place once every five years.

The Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR) welcomed a strong resolution adopted by the European Parliament (EP) in Brussels today (above) on the “Human Rights situation in Vietnam, in particular the case of human rights journalists Pham Chi Dung, Nguyen Tuong Thuy and Le Huu Minh Tuan”. The resolution was tabled jointly by all seven of the political groups in the 705-member body from across the whole political spectrum.

A recent crackdown is a sign of how worried the party is about popular discontent, Tuong Vu of the University of Oregon tells the Economist:

Protests are, in effect, illegal in Vietnam, yet on many occasions over the past 15 years the government has had to change course in response to public pressure…. Between 1995 and 2018 factory workers across the country organised over 6,600 strikes, according to Ben Kerkvliet of Australian National University. The government changed several laws in response to some of the workers’ demands.


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