VietWill persists with plan for protest at S.F. torch relay

For Immediate Release:

VietWill persists with plan for protest at S.F. torch relay

Berkeley, CA
7 April 2008

VietWill, an Internet-based activist group, is determined to carry out its protest against China's aggression in Vietnam’s Eastern Sea (South China Sea) on the occasion of the Olympic torch arriving in San Francisco on April 9 to call attention to the Chinese government’s blatant disregard for the lives of Vietnamese fishermen as it strives for world superpower status.

VietWill also plans to use the relay event to speak out against the Chinese government’s politicization of the Olympics in declaring its ownership of Paracel Islands, which China illegally seized from South Vietnam in 1974. In addition, China also illegally took control of a number of the Spratly Islands from Vietnam since 1988, and made egregious claims over 80% of the Eastern Sea as its territorial waters.

The group will particularly protest China's bullying activities in Vietnam’s Eastern Sea, among which is the shooting, killing, and capturing of Vietnamese fishermen making an honest living on what China regards as its territorial waters.

Vietnam has a long coastline running north to south (2140 miles, islands excluded). Therefore, fishing is a critical economic activity for Vietnamese people, especially for those in Central Vietnam, where there is little agricultural land. For thousands of years, Vietnamese fishermen have been fishing on Vietnam’s Eastern Sea. Today, they continue to fish where their fathers, grandfathers, and ancestors fished, but they are called "pirates" and "robbers," chased after, and shot.

The injured are captured and mandated to pay a ransom of 15,000USD, which is equivalent to many years of earning on the sea. Most of the fishermen are not aware of the international border disputes or China's hegemonic ambitions; they only know that the shooting comes from China's Navy boats, and that the soldiers speak Mandarin.

Most of the incidents take place near the Paracel and Spratly Islands. These islands get attention because they are surrounded by an abundance of fish stock, and located on the main trade route through Asia, a strategic location economically and militarily. Additionally, the Spratly region is estimated to contain the fourth largest oil reserve in the world, more than that in Kuwait.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the Chinese government would make claims on these islands in order to exercise its control in the region. Although the disputes began in the early 1900s, the escalation has only occurred in the latter part of the 20th century until the present as China focuses on using its military might to invade and seize the islands. And now, innocent Vietnamese fishermen are victimized as China flexes its military muscles.

VietWill invites all who are sympathetic to the livelihood of these poor fishermen on the sea, and who are concerned with China's "un-peaceful rise" to join the group in this demonstration.

Demonstrators plan to distribute information pamphlets and free T-shirts to the public at the protest site in San Francisco in order to highlight that China's bullying of Vietnam and its Southeast Asian neighbors by both diplomatic and military force is a huge threat to the stability in the region. If actions are not taken in a timely manner, it could pose an uncertain imbalance of powers in the world.

VietWill’s protest symbol at the relay will be the Trong Dong Hung Vuong, an ancient Vietnamese Bronze Drum, a symbol of Vietnamese peace-loving spirit with strength of resistance against Chinese imperialism. For thousands of years, Trong Dong has been in front of our battle against foreign invasion, in ceremony and worship our ancestor, and in festival celebrating victories and prosperous crop. And now, this very sacred cultural heritage will serve as the rallying cry and image for VietWill’s modern day struggle against China’s aggression.
Tel: 1 (714) 260-3879

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