A Vietnamese-American has been detained and placed under investigation by Ho Chi Minh City police for disrupting public order, after he was found to have stirred up violence during a march in the southern metropolis on Sunday.
The detainee, William Anh Nguyen, was among thousands who occupied several streets in Ho Chi Minh City to speak out against a draft law on Vietnam’s new special economic zones on Sunday, only one day after he entered Vietnam on a tourist visa.
The 33-year-old is a U.S. citizen who was pursuing education in Singapore, according to the spokesperson of Ho Chi Minh City police.
Video evidence acquired by the police shows Nguyen joining a huge crowd marching through Nguyen Van Troi and Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Streets, which form a major route connecting the downtown area with the city’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport.
Upon reaching the junction between Nam Ky Khoi Nghia and Ly Chinh Thang Streets in District 3, Nguyen demanded that police vehicles, which were used as road blocks, be moved away so the crowd could proceed, according to the police.
When his demand was not met, Nguyen climbed onto a vehicle and called for others to join him in breaking through the police line.
All his actions were filmed by law enforcement officers and used as evidence to move forward legal proceedings against him, on the charge of disrupting public order, according to the police.
Nguyen has been in detention since Tuesday following an arrest warrant.
Nguyen’s prosecution is the second involving participants of Sunday’s marches in the city, after police launched legal proceedings against a Vietnamese man earlier this week on a similar charge.
|Participants carry banners and signs during a march in Ho Chi Minh City on June 10, 2018. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Ho Chi Minh City police and lower-level law enforcement units say they have handled a total of 310 people who broke the law while joining the marches, including some with links to terrorist groups based in foreign countries.
Vietnam has plans to establish three new special economic zones where greater incentives and fewer restrictions are offered to lure foreign investment into the areas.
The zones – Phu Quoc, Van Don, and Bac Van Phong – are to be located in Kien Giang, Quang Ninh, and Khanh Hoa Provinces in the southern, northern and south-central parts of Vietnam, respectively.
The draft law which gave rise to the recent marches includes in its early version an article that allows land at the economic zones to be leased for up to 99 years to potential foreign investors, raising concerns national security would be at stake.
The government has since pledged to scrap the lease period entirely from an updated version of the bill, which would be submitted to lawmakers for consideration in October.