Vietnam unveils new riot police to suppress protests
Police showed off new units in a ceremony two days ago. Vietnam’s constitution guarantees the right to protest, but no law has been approved regulating it. Since 2018 the issue has not been discussed.
Hanoi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – At least 15 Vietnamese provinces and cities have set up reserve riot police battalions or regiments to suppress "illegal demonstrations" and conduct arrests for “disturbing public order".
On Wednesday, police in Ho Chi Minh City held a ceremony to show off the new unit, the Công an Nhân Dân (People’s Police) newspaper reported.
The new outfit will operate under the Ministry of Public Security or the heads of provincial police departments.
According to Radio Free Asia (RFA), the units could be used to crack down on protests by ethnic and religious minorities.
A Ho Chi Minh lawyer, whose identity cannot be revealed for security reasons, said that the “suppression of unlawful protests” goes against the Constitution of Vietnam.
“The right to protest is a constitutional right, so repression is unconstitutional”; however, no legislation exists regulating demonstrations in the country.
“According to the Vietnamese constitution, people have the right to protest, but the bill on demonstrations has been frozen for many years”; as a result, “In practice in Vietnam every protest is repressed,” said a woman who took part in demonstrations against the construction of a Chinese oil platform in Vietnam's exclusive economic zone in 2014.
In 2013, the government directed the Ministry of Public Security to draft a bill on protests. Since then, the proposed legislation was tabled and then withdrawn several times from the National Assembly’s agenda. By 2018 no lawmaker or media raised the issue again.
Overall, “fundamental civil and political rights are systematically suppressed in Vietnam,” reads the latest report (February 2022) by Human Rights Watch. “The government, under the one-party rule of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV), severely restricts freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly, movement, and religion.”