On the front page of the Wall Street Journal today as Trump arrives in Hanoi. This article highlights the abuses of authority I have faced since nominating myself to run in the National Assembly elections last year and meeting Obama after I was unfairly rejected to run. As usual the focus centres more on repression than resistance although The Dissidents do get a mention!
HANOI—Vietnamese singer Do Nguyen Mai Khoi came face to face with the reach of her country’s security forces after she met with President Barack Obama in Hanoi in May last year.
Ms. Mai Khoi was among several dissidents who were invited to meet with Mr. Obama during his visit. She had recently tried but failed to make the list of independent candidates for the country’s legislature, which does little to challenge the ruling Communist Party.
When she arrived home, four policemen knocked at her door and tried to make her acknowledge that she owned a Facebook page which criticized the security forces. She refused, fearing she would be arrested on the spot.
“They have called my parents in for questioning, raided two of my concerts, asked my landlord to kick me out of my house, refused my permit to live in Hanoi, and put me under constant surveillance,” said Ms. Mai Khoi, who is now 33. “Some of my best friends are no longer friends with me,” she said.
The pressure Ms. Mai Khoi faces reflects what human-rights groups say is the largest and most persistent crackdown in the communist state in years. Vietnamese officials didn’t respond to requests for comment for this article.
It comes as Vietnam is again in the spotlight as the host of this year’s annual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. President Donald Trump used a speech at the summit on Friday to champion his America-first trade policy.
Amnesty International says Vietnam is currently holding at least 84 political prisoners or dissidents for crimes such as “spreading propaganda against the state” or “abusing democratic freedoms.” In many cases they have been prosecuted for posting critical comments on Facebook.
The latest blogger to be convicted, a university student named Phan Kim Khanh, was given a six-year prison sentence last month. The 11-year-old daughter of another jailed dissident, Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, wrote to first lady Melania Trump to help free her. Ms. Trump awarded Ms. Quynh the State Department’s International Women of Courage Award in March, and the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi has lobbied for the release of Ms. Quynh and other dissidents.
Ms. Mai Khoi, who is now putting together her first album with her new band, The Dissidents, has drawn comparisons to performers such as Lady Gaga and Russia’s activist group Pussy Riot. To some extent, her fame has helped protect her. Diplomats and executives such as Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google’s parent Alphabet Inc., have sought out her views.
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