Police in Viet Nam’s capital, Hanoi, shut down a major annual meeting of grassroots groups and non-government organizations (NGOs) this morning in an alarming step-up of the authorities’ repression of civil society, said Amnesty International.
“This is an absurd and shocking crackdown on a well-established, peaceful event. To use an arcane wartime decree about holding events in public spaces to stop a private gathering at a hotel is clearly unjustified and cynical,” said Minar Pimple, Amnesty International’s Senior Director for Global Operations.
A coalition of local groups were holding their third annual workshop today at the Hanoi Club Hotel. As in previous years, the meeting aimed to discuss approaches to social issues including public service access, health and gender equality.
Once the workshop was underway, local police entered the premises and ordered organizers to shut it down. Police accused organizers of violating a wartime law from 1957, Decree 257-TTg, which provides that public authorities must be informed of events at least 24 hours in advance.