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Hanoi Lawyer - Foreign journalists visit site of ‘unrest'
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Foreign and domestic reporters have travelled to the northwestern province of Dien Bien to inquire into reports of alleged social unrest in the province's border district of Muong Nhe that appeared in the foreign media earlier this month.

During a two-day visit on May 26-27, reporters from AFP, Reuters, Kyodo News, NHK, Xinhua and several domestic press agencies, including Viet Nam Television, had working sessions with provincial leaders and local agencies to receive an update on local developments and efforts to settle the disorder.

Dien Bien People's Committee vice chairwoman Giang Thi Hoa once again rejected false information about the so-called unrest of the Mong ethnic minority group in Muong Nhe District which was reported by several foreign news agencies in May.

These agencies had reported that local authorities had used force to disperse the Mong "protesters", resulting in numerous arrests and even death.

The reports were a fabrication and were made in bad faith, Hoa said.

Between April 30 to May 6, she said, some extremists in several localities in Muong Nhe had used cunning to lure several thousand Mong people to gather in Huoi Khon Village in the district's Nam Ke Commune with stories about the appearance of a "supernatural force". The stories were spread by local and foreign extremists and were intended to undermine the great bloc of national unity and incite the locals to fight the authorities and create society disorder, she said.

Local authorities in Muong Nhe then mobilised agencies and mass organisations to take measures in accordance with Vietnamese law to prevent further extremist acts, which had included formation of the extremists' own guard units, blocking the ordinary travel and daily activities of local people in the area as well as the operations of local authorities, detaining on-duty officials, and expressing conditions and claims against the laws of Viet Nam.

While dispersing the crowd, Muong Nhe authorities did not use force, but only organised working teams of mass organisations to help the people understand the scheme of the bad elements and to encourage them to voluntarily return to their residential areas. They also provided medical care and treatment for those who were ill, especially the elderly and children, to ensure security and social order, Hoa said.

Mong families who came from outside the village have since returned home, with local authorities providing means of transport as well as food and money for them to return safely, she said. Nobody was reported killed or wounded.

A few elements which committed acts in violation of the law were temporarily detained for re-education.

The situation in Muong Nhe has since returned to normal, and ethnic people in Muong Nhe were able to actively participate in the elections on May 22 for the 13th National Assembly and People's Councils for the 2011-16 term, with 99.34 per cent of voters going to the polls, Hoa said.

The foreign and domestic reporters who travelled to the area spoke with the authorities of Muong Nhe District and of Nam Ke Commune and visited Huoi Khon Village, where people had gathered between April 30 and May 1.

Asked about the incident, Huoi Khon residents Giang A Ky and Vang Thi Pao affirmed that the acts of leading elements were wrong, went counter to the law, cheated the people and caused more difficulties for the people's lives. They requested the authorities to severely punish these elements, sympathise with the people's mistake and continue to create better conditions for them to live and work stably.

The reporters' trip was organised to help them better understand the Vietnamese Party and State's consistent policies of ensuring the rights of the people and the freedom of belief and equality of ethnic communities, while determinedly and strictly enforcing the law. The nation has consistently performed policies that prioritise the flow of development funds to ethnic minority populations in difficutly in remote and isolated areas.

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