The Communist Party in Vietnam has been throwing activists in jail and brainwashing youth.

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MANY Vietnamese people know me as the rapper behind the controversial rap song “DMCS.” The lyrics are explicit because, for the first time, I am practicing my free speech rights to the fullest extent. “DMCS” is a verbal attack against the ruling Communist Party in Vietnam, a criticism of its war crimes and poor management of the country. The song has surpassed more than 600,000 views on YouTube, and inspired more Vietnamese youths to do their own research and demand a better political system.

It was time to speak up because of the current geopolitical issues between Vietnam and China. Despite Vietnam strengthening its relationship with the United States, there is a lack of transparency and information within Vietnam. Over the last few years, courageous bloggers and informants have leaked secrets indicating that the Vietnamese communist leaders have agreed to cede parts of Vietnam to Chinese communists.

Listen to Nah’s “DMCS” in the YouTube player below (Warning: contains profanity)

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Editor's note: As the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon approaches, the Seattle Times editorial board admires former Gov. Dan Evans and citizens who welcomed Vietnamese refugees into their homes and lives. That legacy continues, though citizens can provide more direct assistance to today’s refugees. Read more about this project.

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Places like Vung Ang and the bauxite mines in Tay Nguyen contain areas where only Chinese workers are allowed and streets have been changed to Chinese names. Before he died in 2013, the famous Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap warned Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung to oppose the Tay Nguyen bauxite projects for environmental and security reasons, but he, too, was ignored.

Last, but not least, are the Paracel Islands. Satellite images show the Chinese have constructed a runway and other military structures in this disputed territory in the South China Sea, yet the Vietnamese government won’t even allow citizens to protest this incursion.

To keep the people from speaking up against its corruption, the current regime has been jailing activists and brainwashing youths through a communist-controlled media and education system. As a child in Vietnam, I was taught the communists liberated the country from Americans. Only when I got a chance to study in the United States did I learn that many Southern Vietnamese were imprisoned or lost their lives trying to flee the country after Saigon fell April 30, 1975. So I asked myself, “Who invaded whom?” Saigon was the pearl of the Far East back then, and we could have been stronger than Korea or Singapore if the communists had not won.

Whenever I think about what is happening in Vietnam, I feel sad. Poverty, street crimes and bribery are everywhere. There is fear and hatred inside so many individuals, resulting from oppression and censorship. There is not enough room for love and creativity. People don’t trust one another, let alone unite and demonstrate against the elite. When activists speak up, the pro-communist folks label us “traitors” and think that we have been bought by the U.S. government or by the exiled Vietnamese community. I would ask them: “Do you think the happiness of myself and my loved ones has a price?”

Since the release of “DMCS” three months ago, I have become concerned about my family’s safety. I am studying in America, but my parents and younger brother are still in Saigon. As the Vietnamese communists try to strengthen relations with the West, I doubt they will publicly violate human rights. But this regime has a history of overreaching and quashing opposing views. For example, musician Viet Khang wrote two songs in 2011 named “Anh La Ai” (“Who Are You?”) and “Vietnam Toi Dau,” (“Where Is My Vietnam?”). Both criticized the government in subtle ways, but he was sentenced in 2012 to four years in prison and two years of house arrest.

My song “DMCS” criticizes the government in a much more straightforward manner and has created a much bigger impact on youths. It’s certain that if I go back, they would punish me.

Son Nguyen, who goes by Nah, is a Vietnamese rapper from Saigon and international student at Oklahoma State University.
Son Nguyen, who goes by Nah, is a Vietnamese rapper from Saigon and international student at Oklahoma State University.

My intent is not to hurt my family, my friends or any of my fellow Vietnamese. My goal when I released “DMCS” was to break the fear. I want to push people out of their comfort zone so that they can have different perspectives and no longer be subjected to one view. I want to inspire people so they can become their own leaders. People should understand that there is no way they are born just to pay taxes and die. They are here to create an impact and change the world.

I’m sure more people will speak up against the oppressive authorities. I demand that the government of Vietnam release political prisoners and stop violating human rights. I demand that Vietnam’s Constitution be amended to allow multiple political parties.

After 40 years, it is clear that the Communist Party lacks efficiency in managing the country and should be replaced so that the country can become the pearl of the Far East it once was.