A 46-year-old Vietnamese refugee sits in an Oakland jail after dousing herself with gasoline and trying to set herself on fire. Now she´s being hailed by some as a heroine.
Ngoc Hanh Dang Nguyen lives in France. She was in San Francisco in December to protest a speech by the visiting Vietnamese deputy prime minister. She was arrested on federal arson charges.
The Vietnamese government and federal prosecutors have branded her a criminal, saying she meant to harm the deputy minister.
But she´s also being hailed by some local immigrants as a heroine fighting for liberty in Communist-ruled Vietnam.
The debate reflects a broader disagreement about the recent U.S.-Vietnamese trade pact. Her supporters take a hard line, no trade with communists. Others argue that the grip of communism will inevitably loosen as more foreign companies open offices in Vietnam.