To All International News Agencies, Journalists Reporting on APEC Summit 2006 in Ha Noi
By Pham Hong Son*
Ha Noi, November 16, 2006
The atmosphere of APEC summit in Viet Nam has been excited and hastened more than ever before. Just less than 24 hrs there shall be an economic meeting among the 21 APEC leaders of which the names of the familiar world heavy-hitter leaders should not be ignored: Bush, Abe, Hu, Howard….
Many sounding horns of motorcycles in hurry, the usual daily motorcycle commuters in a familiar stream of disorder suddenly come to stop at any places, even with no stop light, and replace with a row of new, shiny vehicles moving smoothly with new blue plates with a white APEC word following one after another in an orderly fashion. There is a siren sound at times on the street, with it there are many Camion motorcycles covered with gray… with uniformed security officers carried revolver, bludgeon… Looking around the main areas-of-attraction of the capital as Ho Guom, many high-class hotels such as Hilton, Horizon, Sheraton, especially in the central area of the national assembly My Dinh, people feel a sense of entering military area, witnessing the security officers in black uniforms, wearing black, shiny boots and many police equipment on their uniforms; each one with machine gun on their hands patrolling on the side of streets. On the avenues and along the streets in the city, appeared many different security-officer uniforms: Black is of the mobilized officers, Green belongs to security officers, Yellow signifies patrol officers, red armed-band indicates the people-protective force and last but unidentifiable is the secret security officers in plain-clothes.
With the many scenes of massive-police-presence on the streets, pedestrians seem to forget the banners with black color hanging on the electric poles with many words for APEC. Many streets were so cleaned, many gathering places of street-vendor kids, hookers were tidied up, Mai Xuan Thuong public park where petitioners-on-redress-for-their-land used to gather, appears just a few uniformed polices. The noisy, hastened atmosphere awaited the world economic leaders is the topic around many common folks. But wait!!! Hold on to these attractive, appeared-as-democracy scenes, because those are just setup for the foreigners to see, a huge canvas that the APEC Summit 2006 host has spent on hundreds-million US Dollars of taxpayers’ money. There are many other special and unique scenes one must pay attention to. It is only happened in Viet Nam.
Just take a stroll on to the 26 Ly Thuong Kiet street, 11 Trang Tien alley, around the 62 Ngo Quyen, on opposite direction to 37 Ly Nam De, up diagonally toward 69 Thuy Khue alley, come around the common-residential geography-aerospace Trung van – Tu Liem, turn around on to A11 room 420 Thanh Xuan Bac, head back to 45 Pagoda Boc alley, go around the common place Phuong Mai at A7 room 48, then head toward across 01 Ta Quang Buu alley room 302 Z8, make across to 104 Le Thanh Nghi… These areas are not for the APEC leaders to stay, obviously not a place to hold the summit meetings, to carry dialogue among world leaders, and certainly not the residence of the Vietnam’s government officials. Such signs as "No Trespassing" and police posts placed around these areas on 24/24 hrs surveillance to prevent contact with foreigners, especially the international news agencies, journalist and human rights groups.
Around the areas with these posted signs "No camera", " Restricted area", "No foreigner", are scores of uniformed and plain-clothes security police wearing red armed-band, ready to question anyone happened to be in these restricted areas, especially the foreigners shall be stopped and requested to leave immediately with a reason for security protection.
One common point for the above addresses and areas is that those are the places where the pro-democracy and human rights activists, the dissidents have been voicing the protest to the Vietnamese Communist Regime on the one-party ruling, calling for the rights of freedom of fair election, freedom of __expression, association, of whom many familiar names: Hoang Minh Chinh, Le Hong Ha, Nguyen Thanh Giang, Pham Que Duong, Hoang Tien, Nguyen Khac Toan, Nguyen Van Dai, Le Thi Cong Nhan, Tran Khai Thanh Thuy, Nguyen Phuong Anh, Bach Ngoc Duong, Le Chi Quang … are so well known to many international amnesty and human rights groups. It is a mistake not to mention those activists in Sai Gon, in Da Lat for evergreen city, in Hue and others places across the country, their situations being harassed and suppressed by the security police are not less than in Ha Noi.
According to the host committee, there will be around 2000 journalists registered for reporting news on the APEC summit, certainly the majority of the well-known news agencies is from country with political pluralism institution, therein APEC only with two members still hold on to the one-party system are China and the host country – Viet Nam.
Reporting news on APEC should not only reporting news happened in those meeting rooms, more significant, one should report news happening on people daily life and the Hanoi’s practices outside the summit. Those are the absolute true news, reflecting on the nature of the government. In order to have a meaningful and long-lasting collaboration among companies for just economic front, one must not forget to seek the true and honest of its partner. Ostensibly with many expensive wines, gifts, economic contracts with many zeros, besides many topics such as DOHA, one must take heed to how the host treats his own people.
All developments come with a common denominator, i.e., Liberty and Happiness. In the spirit of humankind, each human being should not look away while other human beings’ basic rights have been deprived and these deprivation and harassment were being practiced by the host of the APEC Summit 2006.
Let not get carry away with the opportunity for the photo ops with world leaders, let just move quick on video clips in meetings, let shorter on interviews with world leaders. Let, however, concentrate on paying a visit to those above listed addresses and residential areas to witness a reality. And remember not to flash for photos with your camera because it will immediate confiscate by the police. However, the key is to have a report on the actual facts you have witnessed in these historical APEC Summit 2006 days in Viet Nam, thus to land a helping hands on denouncing of the crimes . That is what reporting should be on APEC!
(Translated by Dang Sao Minh)
* Dr Pham Hong Son, a prominent cyber-dissident in Vietnam. He was arrested and put in jail in March 2002 for using Internet to send democracy-advocating document. He was named as prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International. After serving more than three years in prison, he was released as result of constant international interventions with Hanoi authorities. Dr Pham still remains under house arrest and police surveillance.
Vietnam Human Rights Network