Vietnamese leader’s local visit protested

first_imgDANA POINT – Hundreds of protesters demonstrated Friday near a resort where the president of Vietnam was scheduled to have an evening reception with business leaders. Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet was expected in Southern California following a meeting earlier in the day with President George W. Bush in Washington, D.C. Triet was the first president from the communist-led nation to visit the White House since the Vietnam War. During his trip, Triet has been criticized by senior U.S. lawmakers for human-rights-abuse claims. In recent months, Vietnam has arrested or sentenced at least eight pro-democracy activists. A crowd of mostly Vietnamese protesters lined Pacific Coast Highway near the St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach awaiting Triet’s arrival. They waved American flags and the red-striped yellow flag of the former South Vietnam. The county is home to a huge population of Vietnamese who resettled after the war. When Triet’s motorcade arrived, protesters were kept at a distance by Orange County sheriff’s deputies on horseback but still found a way to express their anger. “Nguyen Minh Triet go home!” they screamed. Many wore T-shirts with a photograph of a jailed Vietnamese priest and the slogan, “Freedom of speech in Vietnam?” Some also brought pictures of other religious and political figures who have been arrested or put under house arrest in Vietnam. Nhan Le, 62, of Gardena said he took the day off from his job in an electronics store to participate. Others came from as far away as San Jose. “We have a moral obligation to speak up for the people of Vietnam because right now they cannot do so in their own country,” he said. “The president is not used to seeing people criticize him so that’s why we have to be here to let him know that there are people who oppose his policies.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img