Vietnamese authorities have detained one of the country’s most prominent dissidents, Nguyen Dan Que, for allegedly calling for the communist government’s overthrow, mirroring revolutions seen in the Middle East in recent weeks. The arrest of Nguyen Dan Que took place at his home in the southern Ho Chi Minch City on Saturday (26 February 2011), Vietnam News reported. According to the source, police also seized several documents on Que’s anti-government activities during the raid, including pamphlets calling the public to “take the streets to dismantle the Politburo!” and to “take advantage of the democracy movement in Africa and the Middle East”. Que, 69, is currently held pending further investigations. He is known for his open criticism against Vietnam’s one-party system and the government’s economic management. This is the fourth time he has been arrested in over 30 years.
He has also previously been jailed for 20 years.Significance: The arrest comes amid ongoing popular unrest in the Middle East, which has made a number of authoritarian governments in Asia nervous that the unrest could spread. While Vietnam currently enjoys a high degree of political stability and widespread public opposition to the government is rare, the government is wary of any public criticism and routinely clamps down on dissent. While in the short term, serious organised discontent is unlikely to emerge, provided that economic growth satisfies social and material needs, in the longer term the issue of political legitimacy could move to the forefront and challenge the regime.