Read the story below and see for yourself. It tells of an American reporter, the AP bureau chief in Hanoi, photographing a Christian demonstration against the Communists. He was lead away by police, had his camera taken away, and beaten, requiring stitches. The story appears in the section below.
Personal Disclosure: Your blogger married into a south Vietnamese-American family, many of whom were forced to escape (at great peril) after our once great nation, abandoned South Vietnam's efforts at staving off Communist invasion. Your blogger has in-laws still stuck behind the bamboo curtain, who are not allowed to leave that nation, as their government fears they will not return.
(The photo above is of another demonstration, stateside, with the demonstrators carrying the flag of the Republic of South Vietnam, which was defeated in 1975 after our government abandoned them. )
Katy is scheduled to make her first visit to the former Saigon in the Spring. She is told the government welcomes American tourists, if not reporters!
Your blogger grew up fearing Communism, mostly in its Marxist form, and was terrified of the evil empire, the Soviet Union. She urges all readers to continue to take note of the harsh developments in Russia and in China.
The video in the story below was taken by a very brave Vietnamese citizen who was able to upload it to You Tube, which is monitored by their country's censors. It shows the reporter being led off before being questioned, jailed, and beaten by Hanoi police.
Click below to read the story:
From the AP, Sept 19, 2008
An Associated Press reporter in Vietnam was choked, punched and hit over the head with a camera by police who detained him Friday while he covered a Catholic prayer vigil in the communist country. You can watch his arrest and the very start of the assault on him on video below captured by an onlooker.
Ben Stocking, 49, Hanoi bureau chief, was released from police custody after about 2 1/2 hours and required four stitches on the back of his head. His camera was confiscated by police. "They told me I was taking pictures in a place that I was not allowed to be taking pictures. But it was news, and I went in," Stocking said by telephone from Hanoi, according to the AP. Stocking was covering a demonstration by Catholic priests and church members at the site of the former Vatican Embassy in Hanoi, which is currently the subject of a land dispute between the church and city authorities.
The city had started to clear the site Friday after announcing a day earlier that it planned to use the land for a public library and park-- a significant development in an already tense relationship between the church and state in Hanoi.
After Vietnam's communist government took power in 1954, it confiscated property from many landowners, including the Catholic Church. The church says it has documents showing it has title to the land.
Within minutes of arriving at the prayer vigil, Stocking said, he was escorted away by plainclothes police who took his camera and punched and kicked him when he asked for it back.
Taken to a police station for questioning, Stocking tried to reach for his camera and an officer "banged me on the head with the camera and another police officer punched me in the face, straight on." The blow from the camera opened a gash at the back of his head.
Transferred to another police station to give a written statement, Stocking was permitted to leave with a U.S. Embassy official to be taken to a medical clinic.
The AP is protesting the incident, seeking an apology from Vietnamese authorities involved and insisting on the return of Stocking's property.
"It is an egregious incident of police abuse and unacceptable treatment of a journalist by any civilized government authority," said John Daniszewski, the AP's managing editor for international news. "Ben Stocking was doing his job in a calm, reasonable and professional manner when he was escorted away and violently assaulted."
U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Angela Aggeler said a formal statement of protest was filed with the Foreign Ministry.
The Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to e-mail and telephone requests by the AP seeking comment.
Violence is rare against international journalists in Vietnam, which has strict controls that govern press activities and travel. Foreign media have to register with the Foreign Ministry and get permission to go to remote provinces. -- AP
The Video below was taken at great peril by a brave Vietnamese citizen from a camera phone.