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Thinking and Talking about Arts and Culture in Southeast Asia
Mai Khoi Detained

Mai Khoi, ‘Vietnam’s Lady Gaga’, detained for eight hours in Hanoi after European tour (via SEA Globe)

Vietnamese singer and political activist Mai Khoi was detained for eight hours in a move that Human Rights Watch says points to intensified government efforts to stifle political opposition

Vietnamese singer and pro-democracy activist Mai Khoi was detained for eight hours by authorities at Hanoi airport yesterday morning as part of an ongoing government crackdown on political dissent.

Khoi, who rose to fame in 2010 when state-controlled Vietnam Television named her hit single ‘Vietnam’ song of the year, has consistently come under fire from the ruling Communist Party for her pro-democracy activism and politically-charged lyrics.

In one of her latest singles, ‘Please, sir’, Khoi pleads with the Communist Party leader to grant everyday freedoms to ordinary people.

The 34-year-old’s pop career effectively ended in 2016 after she unsuccessfully campaigned to be on the ballot for an independent seat in the country’s National Assembly.

Her political activism won her a seat at a roundtable in Hanoi with then US President Barack Obama during his visit to the country in 2016. Months after the meeting, Khoi told Southeast Asia Globe that she hoped to use the meeting to convince Obama to pressure the ruling Communist Party into relaxing restrictions on civil liberties. Ultimately, she said, she left the meeting disappointed.

According to Phil Robertson, deputy director of the Asia division of Human Rights Watch, Khoi’s high-profile detention reflects a severe tightening of the noose around freedom of expression in Vietnam, a downward spiral he linked to increasing US isolationism.

“Mai Khoi is someone who they [Vietnamese authorities] are certainly interested in and they see her as a dissident, but she is someone who is high-profile enough that they would basically leave her alone. This is the first [time] we have seen her subjected to the kind of things that your ordinary dissidents would face when they are trying to come back from overseas,” Robertson told the Guardian.

 

Read the full report on SEA Globe.

ArtsEquator Radar features articles and posts drawn from local and regional websites and publications – aggregated content from outside sources, so we are exposed to a multitude of voices in the region.

 

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