American Is Detained After Joining Protest in Vietnam

HONG KONG — An American citizen was among dozens of people arrested in Vietnam this week during protests against proposed special economic zones that have raised fears of Chinese encroachment.

The American, Will Nguyen, was visiting Ho Chi Minh City ahead of his graduation this summer from a master’s program at the University of Singapore, according to a statement from his family and friends.

Mr. Nguyen, 32, a Houston native who graduated from Yale, took part in protests on Sunday. He was “beaten over the head and dragged into the back of a police truck,” after the authorities moved to quash the demonstrations that day, according to the statement.

A video from the protests shows Mr. Nguyen, with blood smeared across his face, being dragged by a group of men. He is later shown standing in the bed of a pickup truck topped with emergency lights.

From Ho Chi Minh City, commonly called Saigon, Mr. Nguyen posted a series of tweets documenting the protests on Sunday, with crowds of people marching down city streets.

“I can’t stress how enormous of an achievement this is for the #Vietnamese people,” he wrote. “The communist government is allowing people to assemble peacefully and the people are exercising their civic duty to protest injustice.”

One image he posted shows a protester who was struck by police officers lying on the street while another person helps him. Another shows a protester holding a sign that reads, “No Chinese Land Lease Even 1 Day.”

Mr. Nguyen’s family has not been able to reach him, but his hosts at an Airbnb rental did reportedly speak with him shortly after his detention. Police officers showed up at the apartment two days later to confiscate his laptop, passport, credit cards and a change of clothes, his family said.

In addition to the special economic zones, protesters said they were concerned about a proposed cybersecurity law. The state-controlled news media in Vietnam reported that 102 people were arrested Sunday in the southeastern province of Binh Thuan, where thousands of protesters blocked a highway and later set fire to public buildings. Protests were also reported in Hanoi, the capital.

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