Anh Thuy Le at the August 19 protest in front of Milpitas City Hall.
Anh Thuy Le emigrated to the United States from Vietnam in 1979.
Leaving behind her home country was tough, and even to this day, she continues to do all she can to stay connected to the people of her culture, and informed of all the daily struggles they endure.
Two years ago, Le got word of something that shook her to her core:
Back in Vietnam, the sister of Le’s friend, along with her entire family, had been forced off their land by the government. Their family had lived on this land for generations; it was land they had toiled over, had raised children on, had built endless hopes and dreams upon.
But just like that, the government had decided the land was to be used for other purposes.
The husband of this friend’s sister voiced his opposition to the government’s play for their land. Because of this, he was murdered.
“When he died, they were so poor,” said Le. “They couldn’t even afford a casket. They had to wrap him in a piece of cloth, and bury him in the ground, wherever they could find a place.”
Le also knows of a young man, in his 20s, who met the same fate in Vietnam, and commited suicide due to the pressure.
In Vietnam, all land is owned by the government. People must thus lease the land, and even then, the government seems to do whatever it wants with it, at whatever time it pleases.
Presently, Vietnam is on the verge of signing a 99-year land lease in three different economic zones, which would open up the purchase thereof to foreign investors. If the deal is signed, China is already poised to come in and devour whatever land it can.
People in Vietnam and abroad have launched protests in response. Already, these protests have caused the signing of the deal to be pushed from this past June into this coming Fall.
Van Lan Troung, addressing the protestors.
In Milpitas, every other Sunday, a group of Vietnamese immigrants gathers in front of City Hall in protest, to show their support for their people and their culture.
“I cannot look away anymore. We do this just a few hours every week,” said Le. “It’s nothing compared to what our people in Vietnam are facing every day. We’re showing them that we’re supporting them from here.”
Ha Phan, who has been serving on Milpitas’ Library Advisory commission, started organizing the event just weeks ago. “It’s my honor, it’s my duty, it’s my job, my responsibility to do this,” she declared to the group gathered at the last Sunday protest. “I do this for the people in Vietnam now who are fighting for human rights, democracy, and freedom.”
Over 100 similar rallies to support the people in Vietnam have taken place at San Jose City Hall. That group meets every Saturday.
“We hope someday there will be real change for them so that they have a decent life. We hope that they can be independent, have good clean air; be able to farm the land, and fish the sea,” said Van Lan Troung, a resident of Milpitas and a Management Analyst for Santa Clara County Behavioral Services. “It’s very simple. Nothing fancy. Just like any other developing country, we want to develop our country; so that it’s not under communist rule. We believe in a democratic environment, freedom, and human rights for everyone. If you tell me those values aren’t worth fighting for, I don’t know what is.”
A big rally for this cause is scheduled in San Jose for September 1, in front of Grand Century Mall on Story Road.