An American student of Vietnamese descent was arrested in Binh Thuan, located east of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, on Sunday for participating in a peaceful protest against China, which turned violent after police started clashing with demonstrators.
Will Nguyen, 32, a Yale graduate and Texas native, was reportedly arrested for “disrupting public order.” He is scheduled to receive a master’s degree from the University of Singapore next month.
The protests were reportedly over proposed economic zones that would allow up to 99-year leases for foreign investors, which raised fears of Chinese encroachment and domination by the so-called “Middle Kingdom.”
Nguyen was arrested in addition to over 100 other protesters and dozens of participants, also injured by police.
According to a statement issued by his family and friends, Nguyen was “beaten over the head and dragged into the back of a police truck.”
A video on YouTube, uploaded by individuals claiming to have witnessed the scene, shows Nguyen being dragged onto a police truck after he was beaten over the head.
The statement added, “On June 12, the police arrived at Will’s hosts’ apartment to confiscate his laptop, passport, credit cards and a change of clothes. They did not respond to questions about Will’s whereabouts or welfare.”
The media reported that, in Vietnam’s capital city Hanoi, more than a dozen protesters carrying anti-Chinese banners were detained.
According to the BBC, some of the protesters held anti-Chinese banners reading: “No leasing land to China even for one day.”
According to the New York Times, Pope Thrower, spokesman for the United States Embassy in Hanoi, said the embassy was “aware of media reports that a U.S. citizen was arrested in Vietnam.” Thrower reportedly added, “When a U.S. citizen is detained overseas, the U.S. Department of State works to provide all appropriate consular assistance. Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment.”