Hundreds in Hanoi Protest Tree Cutting

Fr. VOA

Many people in Hanoi have expressed anger about the government’s plan to cut down thousands of the city’strees. They have protested around the city and on social media. A Facebotreehugsok page titled “6,700 people for 6,700 treesset up last Tuesday has alreadyreceived nearly 50,000 “likes.”

The plan, at the cost of $3.4 million, involved cutting down 6,700 of Hanoi’strees. According to the newspaper Thanh Nien, the trees, more than a quarterof all the trees in the city, are considered dangerous and unattractive. Thenewspaper questioned what would be done with the timber – or wood from thetrees. Timber is considered highly valuable in Vietnam.

Last Friday, after 500 trees had already been cut, the chairman of the HanoiPeople’s Committee announced that the tree-cutting plan would besuspended.

On Sunday, about 500 people held hands outside a park in Hanoi to protestthe plan. They wore special t-shirts and carried signs with the wordsTreeHugs Hanoi.”

Protester Duc Anh said many people were worried about the plan. He saidHanoians and tourists love the city’s trees for many reasons. They are goodfor the environment. He also said many people feel an emotional connection to the trees. Many of the trees are as old as his grandparents.

On Facebook, many Hanoians wrote about the treesspecial place in the city, as well. Student Vu Thanh Phong said the trees were one of Hanoi’s greatassets. He said the trees are part of what makes Hanoi unique. Withoutthem, the city would not be as special.

About a quarter of Vietnam’s population uses Facebook. The site has becomea powerful tool for social change. Several protesters at the Tree Hug eventwore t-shirts connected to a different campaign, which also began on socialmedia. The campaign called on officials in central Vietnam to stop a plan tobuild a cable car in Son Doong, one of the world’s largest caves.

Thanh Thu was part of that campaign. He said the attention on Facebookhelped make the government rethink the project.

When they considered the factor of environment and economy and they sawthat Son Doong should be protectedthey will not build anything until 2030,” he said.

Thanh Thu says he hopes social media campaigns like this will encouragepeople to think more about other people. He hopes people will become moreactive in protecting the environment.

I’m Ashley Thompson.

VOA correspondent Marianne Brown reported this story from Hanoi, Vietnam.Ashley Thompson wrote it for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

Do you sometimes use sites like Facebook to encourage social change?Write about one such experience you have had with social media!

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