The Vietnamese police has arrested and detained a large number of citizens who held celebrations to mark an anniversary of the country’s war with China.
According to a report from Radio Free Asia, over ten persons were remanded in prison custody earlier on Friday but were released later in the evening.
The news outlet quotes some reliable sources as confirming that dozens of citizens trooped out en masse for the celebrations held in Saigon to mark Vietnam’s 1979 border war with Xi Jinping’s country.
Detractors were arrested in Saigon while paying tributes to Tran Hung Dao, a powerful Vietnamese military commander whose heroic efforts in the 13th Century allegedly fought off Mongolian invaders led by Kublai Khan. The celebrants were surrounded by police and security forces after their arrival at the statue.
An RFA correspondent in Vietnam told the agency on condition of anonymity that he knew security forces were well prepared for a massive crackdown but people dared.
In his words: “Just before 9:00 there were police everywhere, and I knew there would be a crackdown.
“A short distance from the statue, the poet Phan Dac Lu told me that the police were going to arrest people, but I told him that I would still go ahead, and as soon as we got there the police rushed us and took both of us away.
“They dragged us to their vehicle,” he said.
In the nationwide event, over 100 persons were arrested in Hanoi.
Citizens in the capital city gathered in mass to pay respect to an early Vietnamese emperor who died in the bloody three-week war with China. The massacre was launched on 17 February, 1979, history confirms.
Although the ceremony was held as planned, media reports say a large number of plain clothes police were on ground to maintain peace and security among citizens. Most arrests were carried out after the event.
A source said, “…However, after the ceremony, a few people were arrested.
“One (of those remanded) was the blogger Nguyen Lan Thang.”
Another tipster confirmed that in the buildup to yesterday’s celebrations, a cemetery near the country’s border was blocked to control an increasing tension. Most undercover officers were women.
A human rights activist named Oanh spoke with RFA, saying: “Three days before, police in Vietnam’s border city of Lang Son blocked a group of about 10 activists who had tried to enter a cemetery to pay tribute to Vietnamese killed in the war.
“As soon as we got there, a group of 30 plainclothes police approached and surrounded us. Half of them were women,” she said.
“We showed them our IDs so that they would let us in to light incense for the martyrs, but they closed the gate, telling us we had to ask permission from local authorities before coming in.”
“They didn’t let us take photos, either,” Oanh adds.
Educators and activists are protesting censorship on the truth about this war with China. They claim books for students contain little or no information on the incident, bemoaning the fact that citizens have been denied a right to history.
An author named Vu Duong Ninh told the news outlet that readers may have a chance to learn more about it from new books which will be released next year, admitting that they don’t know much yet.
In his words: “We talk about our wars against the French and the Americans, and this doesn’t affect our relationships with those countries.
“We need to let our students know about this,” Ninh said.
Western sources believe Vietnam lost over 10,000 civilians and twice an estimated 7,000 soldiers lost by Chinese troops although an official number of deaths has not been published by both partially-communist countries.