Mai Khoi’s dissenting voice

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IN THE dying days of February, an audience gathered in the foyer of the Phu Sa Lab performing-arts space in Hanoi’s Tay Ho District. Representatives from the American embassy and other members of the diplomatic corps rubbed shoulders with activists, musicians, artists and a small but excitable handful of journalists. Foreigners and Vietnamese alike, they were there to witness the launch of “Dissent”, Mai Khoi’s aptly and bluntly-titled new album. Many wondered aloud whether the police, too, may make an appearance. It wouldn’t be the first time that one of the dissident-musician’s concerts has been raided.

The American entourage, in particular, was well aware of Mai Khoi. In 2016 she was blocked—along with hundreds of other independent candidates—from running in Vietnam’s National Assembly elections and was among a small group of activists invited to meet then-president Barack Obama. In November, as President Donald Trump visited for the Asia-Pacific Economic…Continue reading

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