Workers say got paid to join protest-turned-riots

By T.Hang, Thanh Nien News

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A group of people attempt to force into the premise of a company in Binh Duong Province on May 14. Photo: Do Truong

A group of people reportedly used money to incite workers to participate in demonstrations early this week in southern Vietnam which later turned to riots, a labor union leader said.
The workers in Binh Duong Province said they were told to use the money to buy flags and uniformed T-shirts for the protests against a Chinese oil rig illegally positioned in Vietnamese waters on May 13-14, Mai Duc Chinh, vice chairman of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor, told Thanh Nien.
Most of the inciters were said to be outsiders, not workers in the industrial zone. They had maps that showed locations of all Chinese and Taiwanese businesses in the area and used walkie-talkies to contact one another. They also brought with them Molotov cocktails to set fire to facilities as well as knives and swords, workers said.
They even hired fierce looking gangsters to participate in demonstrations which they apparently plotted and organized.
The demonstration in Binh Duong Province on May 13, which began peacefully, turned violent when workers were incited to vandalize factories in the industrial zone. Fifteen factories were set on fire.
Police arrested more than 800 people, 300 of whom may face criminal charges.
A riot in a Taiwanese steel plant project in Ha Tinh Province, which had been ignited by a fight between two groups of Vietnamese and Chinese workers, left 1 person dead and 149 others wounded. Police has so far arrested 76 people.
Chinh said he was tipped off on May 16 that a number of people had sent sms to workers urging them to demonstrate on May 18 and promising to pay VND200,000-300,000 each. “Notably, they asked to bring children to the demonstration so that law enforcement forces wouldn’t be able to suppress,” he said.
The authorities have been aware of this information and are verifying it, he said.
According to Chinh, the situation in industrial zones in Binh Duong, Dong Nai and Ho Chi Minh City has eased but threats were still implicit.
On May 16, demonstrations spread to Bac Ninh and Bac Giang Province.
VGCL Chairman Dang Ngoc Tung has called on workers to stay calm and follow the government’s policy in protesting against China’s placement of the oil rig in Vietnam’s territorial waters.

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