Australian activist detained in Vietnam

HANOI, Vietnam—An Australian woman of Vietnamese descent was detained in Vietnam after participating in a rare public demonstration over the weekend, a dissident group said Monday.

Hong Vo, a 53-year-old social worker from Melbourne, was taken into police custody Sunday, a day after passing out T-shirts, hats and fliers in the capital with other members of Viet Tan, or the Vietnam Reform Party, the U.S.-based group said in a statement.

Prior to a massive celebration of Hanoi’s 1,000th birthday, the group called on Vietnam to defend its right to sovereignty over disputed islands in the South China Sea, which China and several other countries also claim all or in part.

A request seeking comment from Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry was not immediately answered Monday.

Following Saturday’s demonstration, police confiscated materials that were passed out, the group said.

Viet Tan is a pro-democracy group with members in Vietnam and abroad. It is outlawed in Vietnam, which considers it a terrorist organization, but the U.S. says it has found no evidence to suggest that. The group itself maintains that it is nonviolent.

Vietnam does not tolerate any form of challenge to its one-party rule and has jailed several Viet Tan members.

In August, Vietnam arrested Pham Minh Hoang, a Vietnam-born French math teacher, who also is a member of the group. He was accused of attempting to overthrow the government by posting anti-communist articles on the internet

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