Are protests in Hong Kong and Thailand spreading to Vietnam?

Protest in Thailand in years demands democratic, monarchy reforms

Thai youth and protesters in Hong Kong

The state media of Vietnam proved not inferior to international news agencies in the speed of updating information related to the protests of tens of thousands of Thai people and young people, which took place over the course of the past two months.

In mid-August, Tuoi Tre Online newspaper ran the headline “Protests in Thailand calling for the government to resign, the biggest since the 2014 coup.” In the summer of September, the online newspaper VnExpress published general information about the latest Thai student’s Bangkok street rally demanding reform of the monarchy, requesting Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha and his government resign and building a new, more democratic constitution, to replace the current one. News of VnExpress, on September 21, emphasized the concern of the head of Thai Government, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha, that the protest “engulfed Thailand in a sea of ​​fire.”

A democracy activist in Vietnam applying for political asylum status in Thailand, on the evening of September 24, spoke to the relevant RFA regarding his comments on the Thai authorities’ behavior towards the demonstrations that broke out from July up to now.

As far as I know, the Thai government behaves very politely with the protesters during their protests. And, they have no arrests or beatings or the kind of brutal treatment of dissidents in Vietnam. In Vietnam, the government is ready to prepare vehicles, prepare all forces and equipment to be able to blatantly arrest protesters in front of the media cameras. But in Thailand, the protesters are very organized and the State of Thailand, even a monarchy, up until now respects the rights of expression of protesters and opposition.”

The anonymous democracy activist confirmed to RFA that the fighting spirit of Thai students was spilled from the protest spirit of young people in Hong Kong, as noted by world media.

I found that the power of protesting among young people in Hong Kong spread not only to the people of Hong Kong but also spread to many other regions fighting so tirelessly. I watched the news over the past few days, I noticed that young people in Thailand are gradually learning how to persistently fight young people in Hong Kong. Because in the past, the protests were ‘yellow shirt’, ‘red shirt’ in Thailand, but now the majority of protesters in Thailand are young people, students and they request practical things for the people, not partisan colors so I find this method very effective.”

Blogger Do Nga commented on the Thai government behaving with great respect for the protesters and activists and dissidents. Blogger Do Nga said that Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha is concerned that the protest will engulf Thailand in flames, suggesting that the situation in Thailand is still in turmoil and that there may be many changes, not necessarily happening a violent repression like in Vietnam. Blogger Do Nga emphasized:

That’s a huge difference between the actions of a government in Thailand versus in Vietnam.”

Both bloggers Do Nga and Vietnamese democracy activist who wants to remain anonimous, agree that although Thai Police arrested approximately a dozen of the country’s democracy activists on allegations related to protests against the Thai Government, however, the protests continued with the participation of many people and students. They asserted to RFA that it is the clearest proof that the Thai Government has complied with the law and does not suppress the protesters, at least until the end of September.

Mr. Do Nam Trung (first, left) in a protest with young Taiwanese.

Impact on Vietnam?

Young Do Nam Trung, a democracy activist in Vietnam, shared with RFA that the information about the protests in Hong Kong and Thailand has positively contributed to the awareness of Vietnamese youth who understand more about the general trend of the times towards a democratic and civilized society.

Mr. Do Nam Trung said about his personal recognition:

I remember about 4-5 years ago, when meeting with young people, they were often indifferent and ignorant about politics. However, in the past few years, people have also cared, especially young people, have been more concerned about the current state of society and the country as well as seeking to make a positive contribution to their society and environment. I think it was probably in part due to the images from international developments through the media and the internet. Especially thanks to the internet, recently Vietnamese youth are no longer blindfolded and gagged as before. Although it’s limited, but it’s a lot better than before.”

Meanwhile, there are also opinions that the enthusiasm of the Vietnamese State media to report news of the protests in Hong Kong and Thailand is aimed at partially deterring the people and young people in Vietnam.

Blogger Do Nga asserts this:

Their aim is to promote the instability of the non-Communist political institutions. In fact, they are not being dishonest about the nature of the problems that gave rise to those protests, but they drive in a different direction. That is, they want to promote the instability caused by the protest.”

Some people in Vietnam’s democracy activists contacted by RFA expressed that in the current Vietnamese context, through increased arrests of dissident voices and imprisonment of participants. There will be no demonstrations in the country in the coming time. However, they have the same belief that the protest spirit of Asian youth, as in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Thailand, will encourage young people in Vietnam.

Young Do Nam Trung told us about his feelings and experiences of participating in protests with young people in Taiwan to support the Hong Kong protest movement. Mr. Do Nam Trung realized that regardless of the outcome of the Hong Kong protest movement, Freedom House’s 2020 Freedom Award to honor the protest movement in Hong Kong will be empowering young people in Asia, including Vietnamese youth, to be more resilient in the pursuit of human democratic values.

There will inevitably be other protests or movements that will break out bigger and more powerful. For example, in the past, there were protests against China, for human rights, against tree chopping, then protests against Formosa and BOT. Each movement is about a few years, for each movement is suppressed, another movement emerges. And, I think in the next few or three years another movement will emerge, for example, but now it is not certain what movement it is.

Blogger Do Nga admits that even though the democratic situation in Vietnam is going through the worst days. However, the people and young people of Vietnam will be very strong, once movements break out for the ideal of a democratic, just and civilized society.

Surely democratic society must move forward anyway. But the important thing is time.”

Those concerned with the democratic situation in Vietnam believe that this time is fast or slow depending on many factors from both sides. (Translated)