South China Sea: Vietnamese Fisherman Killed in Contested Waters

Vietnamese fishing boat that carries Truong Dinh Bay and other crew members is seen arriving at a border guard station in Quang Ngai Province, Dec. 1, 2015. (PetroTimes)

Vietnam has launched an official investigation into the killing of a fisherman in disputed waters near the Spratlys.

The incident enraged online users, and some social activists criticized Hanoi for not doing enough to protect its fishermen, who have been caught up in the escalating disputes over the South China Sea.

Ly Tho, vice chairman of Binh Son District, Quang Ngai Province, said the bullet-ridden fishing boat, carrying a crew of 13 members and the body of Truong Dinh Bay, docked at Sa Ky port on Tuesday, five days after it was attacked.

“The authorities are investigating the incident.  They did a postmortem examination and got statements from the captain and others.  The result will be announced once it is available,” Tho said.

Vietnamese media quoted Bui Van Cu, owner of the ship who was on board during the assault, as saying eight attackers on two speedboats approached, and Bay was shot twice as the crew tried to flee.

“They did not wear a uniform bearing the mark of any countries,” Cu said.

Earlier Phan Huy Hoang, chairman of Quang Ngai Association of Fisheries, said the fishermen told him that Philippine bandits might be involved in the case.

An official at Binh Chau Commune, who wanted to remain anonymous due to the ongoing investigation, said it has not been confirmed.

“For sure, they are foreign attackers, but their nationality is not known yet,” she said.

Speaking in a regular briefing on Tuesday, Le Hai Binh, the spokesman for the Vietnam Foreign Ministry, did not specify who carried out the raid.  He condemned “the inhumane killing, and the use of force against Vietnamese fishermen.”

“We have instructed Vietnamese diplomatic missions in nations that line the South China Sea to quickly probe the killing and to clarify this serious case,” he said.

News of the killing came as Vietnam launched its most advanced coast guard vessel, tasked with the duties of “conducting sea patrols, search and rescue missions and supporting defense forces” on islands that Vietnam claims in the South China Sea.

While Vietnam continues trading accusations with other territorial claimants in the South China Sea, mostly China, over aggressive behaviors, its fishermen have borne the brunt of mounting tensions in the disputed waters.

Critics have accused Vietnamese authorities of putting fishing crews at risk when urging them to maintain their presence at sea to protect the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Vietnam’s parliament, the National Assembly, last year endorsed a budget of more than $756 million to support its maritime forces and fishermen.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Vietnamese service.



The fishing boat of Quang Ngai Province. Photo by Hien Cu

A Vietnamese fisherman was killed last week by an unidentified foreign ship while fishing near Truong Sa (Spratly) Archipelago.
Nguyen Dinh Bay, 42, of Binh Chau Commune in Quang Ngai Province had been among 15 people on board a fishing boat in Vietnamese waters, some 30 nautical miles off Suoi Ngoc (Alicia Annie) Reef, Nguyen Thanh Hung, chairman of the Binh Chau Fishing Association, said.
The incident happened on November 26 when a foreign ship approached and five armed men jumped on board Bay’s vessel and shot him before leaving.
The ship’s nationality and the reason for the attack are both unclear.
The area has for long been a traditional fishing ground for Vietnamese fishermen, who have never been attacked before, Hung said.
Others on board immediately called their families on shore who reported to the fishing association.
Nguyen Thanh Nam of the Binh Chau Fishing Association said he called the boat owner, Bui Van Cu, who is also on board, and was told the fishermen were frightened and were returning home.
Bay’s elder son, who is among the men on the boat, has been frequently fainting since the killing, Nam said.
Hung said the fishermen have four gun shells from the attackers’ guns.
Suoi Ngoc is some 29 nautical miles from Vanh Khan (Mischief) Reef, which is illegally occupied by China.
Speaking about another, unrelated case in which a fishing boat was threatened in the East Sea, the Foreign Ministry said it opposes the use of or threat to use force against boats and vessels.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Le Hai Binh on November 27 stressed Vietnam’s consistent stance of resolutely protesting against all actions that use or threaten to use force against Vietnamese boats and vessels.
He was responding to media questions about reports that some Chinese coast guard and naval ships surrounded and threatened to use force against Hai Dang 05.
“These actions violate international law, run counter to the spirit and letter of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), seriously threaten peace and stability in the region, and are completely unacceptable and unjustifiable,” he said.

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One Response to “South China Sea: Vietnamese Fisherman Killed in Contested Waters”

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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