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  • Vietnam: Clinton Should Spotlight Internet Freedom , -- posted on 31 Aug 2012
  • Vietnamese Catholics demonstrate despite government threats, -- posted on 19 Jul 2012
  • Blogger Slashed by Thugs, -- posted on 14 Jul 2012
  • Vietnam: Free Catholic Activists, -- posted on 23 May 2012
  • Vietnamese Blogger Dieu Cay, -- posted on 21 Apr 2012
  • Michael Brehl, C.Ss.R.: “We admire the commitment of the Province of Vietnam..., -- posted on 18 Nov 2011
  • Press Release: On the abuse of social media system, police and gangs by the communist government of Vietnam against Thai Ha Parish, -- posted on 15 Nov 2011
  • Following the Lord on the path of the Cross, renews our way of thinking, says Pope, -- posted on 31 Aug 2011
  • Cau Ram: thousands of Catholics protest against property seizures, -- posted on 16 Aug 2011
  • Reporters Without Borders: French-vietnamese blogger sentenced to three years in prison, -- posted on 15 Aug 2011
  • Public frustrations soar in Vietnam, -- posted on 05 Aug 2011
  • AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL URGENT ACTION VIETNAMESE BLOGGER "LOSES ARM" IN PRISON , -- posted on 02 Aug 2011
  • Return of Father Nguyen Van Ly to Prison, -- posted on 29 Jul 2011
  • Vietnam: U.S. Ships to Join Exercises, Raising Objections from China, -- posted on 20 Jul 2011
  • Hanoi archbishop protests convent demolition, -- posted on 26 May 2011
  • Vietnam unleashes wave of repression against Hmong Christians, at least 49 dead, -- posted on 16 May 2011
  • Amnesty International Annual Report 2011, -- posted on 16 May 2011
  • Vietnam: 14 Die as Troops Converge On Hmong, -- posted on 10 May 2011
  • Soldiers sent to free kidnapped officials in Vietnam, -- posted on 07 May 2011
  • Vietnam: Ethnic Hmong 'in mass protest in Dien Bien', -- posted on 07 May 2011
  • Ethnic Hmong hold mass protest in Vietnam, -- posted on 07 May 2011
  • Vietnam quashes rare Hmong uprising, -- posted on 07 May 2011
  • Vietnamese Catholics beaten, arrested for supporting human rights lawyer, -- posted on 04 May 2011
  • My revived hatred of communism, -- posted on 18 Feb 2011
  • Vietnamese Catholics bury aborted fetuses, -- posted on 29 Dec 2010
  • More trouble for Vietnam's Redemptorists: monastery turned into state office, -- posted on 26 Dec 2010
  • New wave of harassment against Redemptorists in Vietnam, -- posted on 17 Dec 2010
  • Vietnam's land management system prone to corruption, experts say, -- posted on 29 Nov 2010
  • KonTum Bishop committed to bring The Words to remote regions despite local scrutiny , -- posted on 18 Nov 2010
  • Vietnam youths go online to promote chastity, -- posted on 18 Nov 2010
  • Congressman criticizes conviction of six Catholics in Vietnam as ‘sham court’, -- posted on 04 Nov 2010
  • Heavy sentences against faithful of Con Dau - Catholics protest injustice , -- posted on 27 Oct 2010
  • Former enemies US, Vietnam now military mates , -- posted on 09 Aug 2010
  • Human Rights Watch honours 6 Vietnamese dissident writers who faced political persecution, -- posted on 06 Aug 2010
  • In Visit, Clinton Criticizes Vietnam on Rights, -- posted on 24 Jul 2010
  • Vinh Long nuns keep fighting for justice and truth , -- posted on 15 Jul 2010
  • Vatican moves upset Viet local Church leaders , -- posted on 06 Jul 2010
  • Pope to appoint groundbreaking representative to Vietnam, -- posted on 06 Jul 2010
  • Vietnam: Provincial government tightens its grip on freedom of religion , -- posted on 23 Jun 2010
  • Vietnam, US hold security, defense dialogue, -- posted on 09 Jun 2010

    
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  • Vietnamese Americans protest art exhibit in Santa Ana
    A day earlier, a photo with Communist symbols was defaced and the building owners ordered the exhibit closed. The Vietnamese American Arts & Letters Assn. commissioned the show.

    By Louis Sahagun and My-Thuan Tran
    (Los Angeles Times)

    January 18, 2009



    Hundreds of Vietnamese Americans demonstrated Saturday outside a provocative art exhibit in Santa Ana that had featured Communist symbols that protesters claimed mocked their painful experiences as political refugees.

    The protest -- joined by people bused in from as far away as San Jose -- came the day after one of the works was defaced with red paint and the owners of the building ordered the exhibit closed, saying the organizers lacked the proper business license.

    Curators of the exhibit, which was commissioned by the Vietnamese American Arts & Letters Assn., said they wanted to launch a discussion about freedom of expression in the Vietnamese community, where talk of communism is a taboo.

    A week into the exhibit's run, Jim Nichols, a co-owner of the building at 1600 N. Broadway, acknowledged that he had been pressured by Vietnamese community members.

    "We support the arts," Nichols said. "But my gosh. Create a firestorm? That's not a good atmosphere for a corporate building." "We have a huge investment in this building and a serious vacancy factor," he said of the decision to order the exhibit closed. "They have factions in their community that go after anyone who in any way seems to put a positive light on communism."

    In the crowd Saturday, a man who unfurled and waved a large flag of Communist Vietnam was immediately surrounded by demonstrators shouting, "Communist!" and, "Go back to Vietnam!"

    Yelling, "I have rights. I have rights," the man was arrested by Santa Ana Police Department officers on suspicion of fighting in public.

    Authorities had already blocked traffic on Broadway, a main downtown artery, between 15th and 17th streets, where demonstrators waved the yellow-and-red flag of South Vietnam and held up signs that said, "VAALA stabs the Vietnamese in the back."

    Some of the demonstrators were clad in military fatigues. One man spread a Communist flag on the street and then encouraged a young boy to stomp on it.

    Kathy Phuc Nguyen, a demonstration organizer and spokeswoman for the human rights group Thanh Nien Co Vang, drew cheers when, speaking through a bullhorn, she said, "Surely, one would not display a photograph of a young Jewish person wearing a Nazi symbol and standing next to a bust of Hitler in a heavily populated community of Holocaust survivors."

    Nguyen was referring to a photograph in the exhibit by Brian Doan, associate professor of art and photography at Long Beach City College, showing a young woman wearing a red tank top with a yellow star -- a representation of Vietnam's official flag -- and standing beside a small bust of former Communist leader Ho Chi Minh.

    Doan said in an interview that the photograph had been damaged with red paint, which the exhibit organizers confirmed. He said he intended the work as a commentary on youths in Vietnam who grew up after the Vietnam War. Now, he said, he plans to display it as "a symbol of my freedom of speech."

    But Tina Dinh, speaking for the demonstrators, called the use of Communist symbols incendiary.

    "They cannot use their freedoms of expression to hurt people with wounds that have not healed," she said, noting that for many upset by the exhibit, "the Vietnam War never ended."

    Some who had hoped to judge the work for themselves said their own freedom had been trampled.

    Tom Do, 55, a counselor at Irvine Valley College, was among a handful of people who went to see the art Friday afternoon only to find the exhibit shut down.

    The demonstrators, he said Saturday, had "robbed my rights to enjoy something I don't happen to have a problem with."

    Kieu Linh Valverde, 39, a professor of Asian American studies at UC Davis, said she decided to travel to see the exhibit in part to support the organizers' decision to display the work.

    "When we see bravery like this, we cannot remain silent," she said, noting a long history in the expatriate community of going after anyone perceived as supportive or sympathetic to the current communist government in Vietnam.

    "Right now, we live in fear because these people threaten our families and destroy our work and take away our freedoms," she said.

    After the exhibit opened last weekend, there were heated calls for the organizers to take down some of the offending works. Assemblyman Van Tran (R-Garden Grove) and Westminster officials sent a signed letter.

    Initially, exhibit sponsors held their ground. "We . . . tried to give this exhibit as much historical thought as possible, like works about the refugee experience," said co-curator Lan Duong, an assistant professor of media and cultural studies at UC Riverside.

    She pointed out, for example, that the exhibit also included works of art banned in Vietnam.

    "The feeling that I may have hurt or injured the community in any way was not my intention at all," she said.

    As part of an effort to counter perceptions that the exhibit celebrated communism, Duong and Arts & Letters Assn. officials have been on Vietnamese radio talk shows and Vietnamese language newspapers explaining that their goal was to include a wide variety of voices and images.

    "A diversity of opinions and viewpoints is absolutely needed for the community to move forward," Duong said. "We would like to honor the stories of the first generation, but at the same time, I think the first generation needs to honor how the 1.5 and second generation has understood our history as well."

    louis.sahagun@latimes.com
    my-thuan.tran@latimes.com

    Los Angeles Times

     
    Posted on 18 Jan 2009


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