Activists and religious leaders in Vietnam have asked the government to release all detained demonstrators who opposed a highly controversial cybersecurity law
and a draft law on three special economic zones.
They say people from all walks of life have expressed deep concerns and claim the two laws could let Chinese expansionists usurp important places and information technology, allowing them to conceal troops in important zones before invading Vietnam. They said protest marches in many cities and provinces on June 10 opposing the two laws and demanding freedom of speech, expression, information, gathering and association were a good sign of citizens' desire for national existence, peace and development. Activists condemned authorities of Bien Hoa City, southern Vietnam, for arresting 52 protesters and imprisoning 15 for causing public disorder
. They said no organization or person was damaged or injured by the protest. "We demand the government free all jailed and detained peaceful demonstrators objecting the two laws," they said in an online statement issued on Aug. 4. The statement, signed by seven civil society groups and more than 100 former government officials, activists, intellectuals, priests and pastors, urged the government to return demonstrators' mobile phones, motorbikes and other possessions confiscated by police. Authorities should apologize and pay compensation to protesters who were beaten and detained illegally and inhumanely, they said. They urged the National Assembly to urgently pass a law on demonstrations stipulated by the constitution so as to bring vitality to political and democratic activities in Vietnam. On Aug. 5, hundreds of Catholics with lit candles attended a special Eucharist Adoration led by Father Anthony Dang Huu Nam at My Khanh Church in Nghe An province. They objected to the two laws and raised banners saying "No leasing communist Chinese land, even one day." They also prayed for peace and justice to be practiced in the country and for prisoners of conscience to be freed. An online referendum on the draft law on economic zones
held by activists shows that 97 percent of 3,365 voters demanded the draft be repealed as of Aug. 6.