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Vietnam braces for National Day protests in Hanoi

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By Khanh Vu

HANOI (Reuters) – Vietnam has ordered police and military forces in the capital, Hanoi, to prevent big gatherings or protests during its National Day holiday next month, the Hanoi People’s Committee said on Monday.

Freedom of assembly is legal in the Communist-ruled country, but despite sweeping reforms, communist-ruled Vietnam tolerates little dissent. Protesters and activists are often prevented from gathering or charged with “causing public disorder”.

“(The authorities) should closely monitor and take efficient measures to prevent people from gathering and protesting in the city,” Hanoi chairman Nguyen Duc Chung said in a statement on the Hanoi People’s Committee website.

Police and military officials should step up security and safety measures at cultural and entertainment sites before, during and after National Day on Sept. 2, Chung said.

The committee did not say what issues it thought might lead to protests.

In June, police arrested dozens of people during at times violent nationwide protests triggered by fears that plans for a new law on special economic zones would be dominated by Chinese investors.

The law has yet to be ratified. Protests have also taken place over the past year or so against pollution and what people see as unfair land grabs.

Last week, a court in the southern commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City, jailed two Vietnamese-Americans loyal to the now defunct state of South Vietnam for masterminding a series of bomb plots.

Police said the pair had planned to launch more bomb attacks on public holidays.

Hanoi will also host several regional heads of state at a World Economic Forum conference about the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Sept. 11-13, in what will be Vietnam’s biggest diplomatic gathering this year.

(Reporting by Khanh Vu; Editing by James Pearson, Robert Birsel)

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