Many demonstrators were hired, says Vietnam’s top cop

By Bao Ha, Viet Tuan   August 13, 2018 | 08:51 am PT
Many demonstrators were hired, says Vietnam’s top cop
People gather for a rally to protest against provisions of a draft law on Vietnam's three Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Ho Chi Minh City on June 10. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen
Vietnam’s Public Security Minister says many people who participated in recent demonstrations were paid to do so.

Drug addicts and HIV infected were among the people paid to join the protests against the special economic zones (SEZ) planned by the government, according to Senior Lieutenant-General To Lam, Minister of Public Security.

Investigations have found that between VND200,000 ($8.59) to VND400,000 was paid to hire demonstrators, Lam told a meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Monday.

Lawmakers said at the meeting that the demonstrations had seriously affected social security, tainted the country’s image and evoked public concern.

As demonstrations broke out in many provinces and cities across the country over controversies surrounding Vietnam’s proposed draft law on special economic zones and a cybersecurity bill, some people instigated violent acts, he said.

Lam said the public security sector would study the problems and identify solutions to tackle illegal protests in the future.

Lam said he has instructed police forces to make plans to deal with illegal demonstrations, riots and acts of terrorism; and ensure safety at key industrial parks.

Meanwhile, relevant authorities would continue to track down criminals and prevent them from joining public protests, he added.

Thousands of people took to the streets in Hanoi, Da Nang, Ho Chi Minh City and several provinces on June 10 and 11, with banners and signs calling for the SEZ and cybersecurity draft laws to be scrapped.

Many objected in particular to an SEZ law provision that would allow foreign investors to lease land for 99 years, saying that such a law would allow foreign countries to undermine Vietnam’s sovereignty.

The bill, which was scheduled to be passed in June, has been postponed for further parliamentary discussions in October. The Cybersecurity Law was passed on June 12.

With passing of the Law on Demonstration delayed several times, all actions to incite public protests are deemed illegal.

Following the demonstrations, police detained hundreds of protesters and said they uncovered evidence that the protests were anti-state actions incited by organizations based in other countries using false, distorted information on the draft laws.

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