Vietnamese police have rejected an alleged clamp down on patriotic demonstrations, while suspending a police official for forcing an anti-China protester onto a bus during a rally on July 17.
Lieutenant General Nguyen Duc Nhanh, deputy director of the Security Department under the Ministry of Public Security, and director of the Hanoi Police Department, said there have been eight rallies recently in Hanoi to protest China's aggressive actions in the East Sea, also known as the South China Sea.
Demonstrators, including students, scholars, artists, entrepreneurs and others, have gathered with banners to protest China's actions, he said at a press briefing on Tuesday (August 1).
Nhanh said these were spontaneous and patriotic demonstrations and thus local authorities and the police didn't attempt to crack down and arrest them.
"The rallies were between 8:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. on Sundays, mostly in front of the Chinese Embassy on Hoang Dieu Street," he said, adding that almost all demonstrators had followed Vietnamese laws, including traffic laws.
However, he said Hanoi police are tasked with protecting the Chinese Embassy.
"We would educate, explain and ask demonstrators to disperse. This is the sole policy. There is no intention to crack down or arrest demonstrators as reported by some newspapers abroad."
"The higher-ups had no intentions to do so and Hanoi police have not arrested any demonstrators nor temporarily detained them over a single night," he stressed.
Nhanh said police didn't detain any demonstrators but only "persuaded them" to go to police stations for further explanation.
Following the rally on July 17, Hanoi police suspended Captain Pham Hai Minh of Hoan Kiem District, for forcing Nguyen Chi Duc, a 35-year-old protester from Dong Da District, onto a bus during the demonstration.
"[Minh's] taskforce had shortcomings when taking Duc to the bus when he opposed them by sitting down on the ground, leading to some pushes," Nhanh said.
Nhanh said police had received complaints from several residents on the issue on July 20 and 27. The petitioners requested Hanoi police to clarify accusations that some protesters in an anti-China demonstration on July 17 were "brutally clamped down" by the municipal police.
Earlier, a clip of some police officials forcing a man onto a bus was posted on the Internet. Hanoi police later identified the man to be Nguyen Chi Duc.
According to police, Duc has confirmed that he was not beaten by the police during his detainment that day.
Second Lieutenant Colonel Dao Thanh Hai, Hanoi chief investigator, told the media that Duc said he had been only pushed by some police while being taken onto a bus.
Hai said Duc admitted that he didn't go to the hospital for examination because he was not injured at all, physically or mentally.
However, investigators requested that he be examined at Hospital E in Hanoi, where doctors said he sustained no injuries.
Investigators also found Captain Minh hadn't smashed his foot down on Duc's face as some people had accused.
Nhanh said they found the clip had been posted on the Internet from a server abroad and it's unable to identify the person who posted it.
"We were unable to identify if the clip had been modified. However, we don't agree with police forcing a demonstrator onto a bus. He is a patriotic demonstrator and is not a criminal," he said.
On May 26 a Chinese marine surveillance vessel cut the exploration cables of a Vietnamese vessel which was conducting seismic survey. Two weeks later, Viking II, a Norwegian ship contracted by PetroVietnam Technical Services Corporation and the French-owned CGG Veritas Joint-venture, was also disturbed by Chinese ships.
Both incidents happened well inside Vietnam's 200 nautical mile (370 kilometers) Exclusive Economic Zone, sparking an outcry among the public, both in Vietnam and abroad, and continuous demonstrations over the past weeks.