I’m struck by the number of former U.S. soldiers who visit Vietnam and come back impressed with how happy and prosperous the Vietnamese people are under the communist regime. I have no doubt the communist government arranges their itineraries so that they visit locations specifically prepared to display the regime’s supposed success and generosity. Once in a great while, I run into an American visitor to Vietnam with a different story. One such is a man who tries to help orphans in the highlands. He tells of deprivation and an absence of human rights. Especially targeted are Amerasian mixed-race people and the Montagnard tribesmen.
Why don’t Americans visiting Vietnam realize they are being duped? The Socialist Republic of Vietnam (Vietnamese: Cộng hòa xã hội chủ nghĩa Việt Nam), as the country now calls itself, is a police state devoid of basic freedoms that Americans take for granted. Stories regularly appear in the press about the arrest and incarceration of dissidents who criticize the regime for refusing to grant freedom of speech and assembly, for example. I learn by reading Time.Inc,, that according to Amnesty International, over the past two years Vietnam has placed “severe restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, of association and of peaceful assembly,” while “peaceful criticism of government policies continued to be silenced through judicial and extra-legal means.”
There are “more cases of government thugs beating up dissidents, longer and longer jail sentences, and now, more arrests,” Human Rights Watch’s John Sifton told AFP, calling 2017 a “terrible year” for Vietnam’s human rights record.
The Washington Post reported on Wednesday, 6 September, that “The police in communist-led Vietnam have been cracking down especially hard on free expression over social media for the past few months.”
Why do American vacationers fail to see what’s going on?