Archive for February 23, 2011

Protesting the Party Through Self Immolation

Posted in Politics, Society with tags , , , , , , , on February 23, 2011 by Ian Pham

Several days ago, February 20, Pham Thanh Son, a Vietnamese man, set himself on fire outside Da Nang City’s municipal office in protest of the government’s confiscation of his home.  Son is a Vietnamese engineer who, on many occasions, has tried to prevent the Vietnamese government from taking the land and property away from him and his family.  Sadly, his pleas have fallen on deaf ears, and it seems that he has no way out.

Son’s land has been unconditionally seized by the Communist government to make space for infrastructure and construction.  The Communist Party could care less if what they’re doing results in the homelessness of their own people.  All they care about is pushing their own agendas, eagerly waiting for the benefits that follow.  At this point, the VCP is only interested in profits, even if it means taking away the livelihood of defenceless people like Pham Thanh Son and his family.

It is sad that the only way Son could draw attention to the issue of the government’s corruption is through the sacrifice of his own life.  Pham Thanh Son set himself on fire to show the world how the Vietnamese Communists have become the enemy of the people, taking land form the common citizens for the sake of enriching themselves.  The seizing of Pham’s property falls under a larger government agenda, the construction of Da Nang City’s ‘Cau Rong’, or ‘Dragon Bridge.’

This is another example of corruption within the Communist Party.  The government took away Pham Thanh Son’s house and could care less what happens to him and his family.  Police in Vietnam described what happened to Son as a typical motorcycle accident, while authorities claimed that he had mental issues.  However, my experience with Communists tells me that both of these claims are highly unlikely.  If this were true, why would they surround the deceased’s house with undercover police, prevent his family from haveing visitors?

An incident similar to this had taken place before, almost fifty years ago.  In 1963, the American media reported a major incident where a Buddhist monk, by the name of Thich Quang Duc, engulfed himself in flames to protest Ngo Dinh Diem’s government.  Over the past decade however, crucial evidence about the incident has emerged, indicating that the Viet Cong played a major hand in the monk’s actions, orchestrating that event to damage the Diem government.  It is ironic now, that someone has decided to burn himself to protest against them.  Only this time, it is unquestionably clear who the bad guys are.

Pham Thanh Son’s actions represent the feeling of many other people in Vietnam right now.  The Communist government continues to abuse their power and disregard the suffering of the people of Vietnam.  They have betrayed their people once again, and doing so with blatant disregard for both domestic and international law.  What can this mean for the VCP?  Democratic revolutions are erupting all across the world.  Even China, Vietnam’s gargantuan neighbor, has gotten a taste of it.  If the VCP want to keep digging their own graves and push their people towards breaking point, the time will come when they have to pay for it all.

Pictures and information about Pham Thang Son’s incident provided by Duy Hoang and Global Voices.