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May Day is mobile in Vietnam

Wednesday, 1 May, 2013

This time last year, Hanoi experienced the hottest day of 2012, with a high of 39°C and oppressive humidity. The people of Vietnam endured their May Day stoically, however, because they’re used to oppression. Hundreds of dissidents are in prison for challenging the one-party rule of the Communist Party. No independent media is allowed, pro-democracy blogs are banned, protests are forbidden and civil rights activists face constant harassment and persecution.

May Day in Vietnam

Yesterday marked the 38th anniversary of the fall of Saigon and the withdrawal of US troops from Vietnam, but the vocal anti-war protesters of the 1960s and ’70s never speak out about what’s happening in the country today and neither do they demonstrate to help make Vietnam a freer country, like they so passionately professed to care about four decades ago. Still, there is hope. Access to independent sources of information is expanding rapidly thanks to the mobile phone, which is the ultimate status symbol, and people seem to be connected all the time. Texting while zipping around on the ubiquitous motorbikes is routine and answering phones while driving or in meetings is commonplace. If you want a SIM card, and thus a new number, just hand over a few dollars on a Hanoi street. No photo ID is required. All this suggests that the iron grip of the Party cannot endure forever. A May Day might yet come when the people of Vietnam are truly free.


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