a disturbing event

I witnessed an event yesterday that left me feeling very disturbed. I was riding my motorbike along Nguyen Huu Can around 11.30 when suddenly, right in front of me I saw what at first appeared to be a traffic accident and a resulting scuffle. I assumed that one motorbike had somehow accidentally clipped another and brought it down in the heavy morning traffic and those involved had begun throwing punches. However, my initial observation was only partly correct. It quickly became apparent that not one, but at least two motorbikes had been in pursuit of this one bike and that they had deliberately brought it down in order to apprehend the people on it.

The bike being pursued was being driven by a thin looking young Vietnamese guy and he had an even thinner young Vietnamese woman behind him as a passenger. The initial bikes giving chase both had 2 young Vietnamese guys on them and all 4 very quickly stepped off their bikes to tackle the couple. Meanwhile, as most of the road was blocked I pulled over to the pavement and became a “gawker”. Usually I hate “gawkers”, people who see something interesting in the traffic whether that be an accident or anything at all of interest happening on the pavement and either stop dead in the middle of the road or go very slow and crane their necks to watch, paying no attention to the traffic around them or the fact they’re creating an obstacle. I hate gawkers cos they get in my way, but yesterday I succumbed, this looked too interesting, I became a gawker. However I did at least think to pull right off the road.

Anyway, back to the unfolding drama on Nguyen Huu Can. The initial 4 guys in pursuit were very quickly joined by at least another 6 or 8 young guys, all in civilian clothes, on 3 or 4 more motorbikes creating one hell of a blockage on the road with more gawkers stopping to watch. All of these guys were off their bikes in a flash and jumping over the motorbike on its side in the road to get at one or other of the couple. The young guy was very quickly punched to the ground and when he went down several guys jumped into him and gave him a fair old kicking. He was hauled back to his feet and received another beating as guys scrambled around trying to hold onto him and pick his bike up off the tarmac where it lay. By this stage his face and body were very red from the blows he’d taken. Meanwhile, the young woman hadn’t escaped unscathed as she was crying and clutching her stomach and looked to be in some pain, no doubt from both the initial motorbike crash and the strong treatment she was receiving. Both these guys were in complete shock, and who wouldn’t be under the circumstances.

It quickly became obvious to me that this wasn’t just a random event or some argument about bad driving I was witnessing. The speed and professionalism of the guys in pursuit was a sure indication they’d done this type of thing before and they were very intent on capturing, subduing and removing these 2 individuals with a minimum of fuss. The young guy had his shirt ripped open at the front and folded back in such a manner that he couldn’t easily move his arms and was bundled onto a motorbike in between two of the pursuers. The young woman meanwhile was similarly manhandled (without her shirt being ripped open) and wedged in between 2 guys with the guy at the rear keeping a firm grip on her arms. The couples motorbike was mounted by one of the pursuers and the whole lot drove out into the centre of the road to do a U turn and drive back in toward District 1. Apart from a helmet and a few pieces of motorbike plastic lying on the road you wouldn’t know that anything had taken place there, (once we gawkers dispersed that is).

I can only speculate about the story behind this event. First thought is that the young couple were thieves being officially apprehended, or perhaps they owed somebody money, who knows. One thing for sure is that whoever their pursuers were they knew exactly what they were doing. These guys were very professional, very tough and I’m certainly glad it wasn’t me they were chasing. They were quick to knock the stuffing out of the young couple taking any fight or thoughts of running they may have had right out of the equation.

An interesting bit of drama and as I said at the beginning, I drove on feeling quite disturbed. When you witness violence first hand at close quarters like this it is disturbing. On the one hand I felt some empathy for the young couple. Not knowing what their crime was allowed me to feel this way, but if for instance it was my house they’d just robbed I guess my feelings would be different towards them. The other reason I was disturbed was because actually I got a bit of a buzz out of the whole scene, it got my adrenalin pumping and left me on a bit of a high. Disturbing.

It’s disturbing when we have to acknowledge our own animal instincts isn’t it!

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