08/06/2012, 00.00
VIETNAM

"Prehistoric" vs "modern" communism: arrests for Catholics and activists, marriage for gays

by Nguyen Hung
Fifty anti-China demonstrators are arrested. Gay and lesbian demonstration is allowed. Seventeen young Catholics and one Protestant have been arrested for defending freedom of worship. Justice minister pledges to recognise gay marriage.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) - Vietnam's communism is in some respect "pre-historic" even if it is trying to modernise to remain in power, this according to experts who spoke about recent events in the capital.

About a hundred members of Vietnam's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered community (pictured) held their first parade in the streets of Hanoi. Holding balloons and riding bicycles, they called for greater tolerance in society.

Although unauthorised, the demonstration went off without a hitch with participants unmolested by either bystanders or police. A protest against Chinese hegemony in the South China Sea ended instead in the arrest of 50 activists.

"For some reason, the government thinks that political protesters are more dangerous than gay people," said Nguyen Phuc Tiet, a young demonstrator.

It appears in fact that the government is more open to homosexuality. Last month, Justice Minister Ha Hung Cuong said that Vietnam should reconsider its laws and recognise marriage between people of the same sex. If this happened, Vietnam would be the first Asian country to legalise gay marriage.

Coming from the Vietnamese Communist party, such "modernity" can be explained by its desire to be accepted in the world economy, especially its main partner, the United States. But some suspect that such "modernity" is also a way to hide some of the dictatorship's "prehistoric" aspects, such arresting anti-China and pro-democracy activists and bloggers.

In one respect, the government's attitude is even more "prehistoric," namely religion. In fact, religious groups are kept under tight government leash-this is especially true for Catholics.

Sources told AsiaNews that in Con Cuông (Vinh), the regime continues to harass Catholics, guilty of practicing their faith, in various ways, including press campaigns and physical attacks like stone throwing.

Since July 2011, the authorities arrested without charges 17 young Catholics and a Protestant. In response, Fr Antony, a Redemptorist clergyman in Saigon, talked to over 3,000 people, asking them to "pray for Catholics, unfairly arrested and victimised by the regime, and for our nation."

What many young believers find hard to believe is the fact that "government is so eager to crack down on Catholics and yet unwilling to protect Vietnam's sovereignty vis-à-vis China."

"Public opinion in Vietnam is shocked by the inanity of the country's leaders, following China's decision to place a garrison and its administration in Sansha, in the Paracels."

"The government of Vietnam should defend our nation," said Fr Joseph, another Redemptorist. "Instead, it just sent a diplomatic note."

Printable version
CLOSE X
See also
White House to stop Beijing's "imperialist" policy in the South China Sea
24/01/2017 15:55
Tensions between Seoul and Pyongyang rise as Cold War fears cast a shadow over Korea
12/02/2016 15:14
Hanoi cracks down on protests, 50 anti-Chinese demonstrators arrested over South China Sea
22/08/2011
Chinese ships attack Vietnamese fishermen
01/09/2017 19:01
Vietnamese take to streets against Beijing’s incursions in the South China Sea
04/06/2011