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'Why not open a restaurant called Uncle Osama bin Laden': Vietnamese eatery named 'Uncle Ho' after communist dictator forced to change name after protests

April 11, 2016 1:13 AM
36 0

A Vietnamese restaurant named after communist leader Ho Chi Minh will be rebranded after its ‘cultural insensitivities’ resulted in death threats and a 100-strong protest.

Uncle Ho announced on social media on Sunday they would be renaming to Uncle Bia Hoi, after receiving ‘death threats’ and closing for the day.

About 100 Vietnamese locals protested outside the Newfarm beer café and restaurant in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley earlier in the day.

The new name references a type of beer rather than the former North Vietnamese leader whose regime saw many deaths and millions flee the country as refugees.

The restaurant’s director Anna Demirbek announced the name change in a statement posted to Instagram on Sunday.

‘We are, and have always been, fully conscious that the brand Uncle Ho would be sensitive. It is not, for the record, the first or only business in Australia bearing such a name,’ Ms Demirbek wrote.

She declared they were not ‘a community money laundering operation’, nor were they ‘communist sympathisers’.

The restaurant employs ‘many Australians’ as well as ‘Vietnamese nationals’ from both the North and the South ‘who find no offence in the brandname’.

‘Similarly we have had many Vietnamese Immigrants dine at the venue already, who have loved everything about our quality of food, beer and the venue. They too have commented that the brandname is inoffensive to them.

‘Despite the organisers of the protest maintaining that this is a “peaceful protest”, over the past 24 hours management have received death threats and threats of burning down the building our business is housed in,’ the statement said.

Their Instagram and Facebook accounts have been changed to the name ‘Uncle Bia Hoi’, however, locals have called on the restaurant to go further.

'No sign of an apology,' one wrote, adding the owner had an 'insensitive [and] arrogant attitude'.

'Changing the name of the joint is not good enough with that attitude!' another wrote on Instagram.

‘Yes, you’re in Australia. But you’re in an Australia where most of the Vietnamese community are refugees,’ one woman wrote on their Facebook page.

Another person commented on their Instagram post from ‘Uncle Ho’s city’ of Saigon, and is forced to see the ‘oppressive … propaganda on every street corner’.

Dr Bui Cuong, who escaped from Vietnam during the war, said the name gives refugees who fled the country 'nightmares'.

'The communist people called him Uncle Ho. That is Ho Chi Minh. He is a mass murderer, a dictator,' Dr Bui told The Sunday Mail.

It was not just the name, but Uncle Ho’s marketing choices which angered the Vietnamese community.

An Instagram picture posted about a month ago showed a red tank with military and the words: ‘Gather your squadron and mobilise the troops’.

Daily Mail Australia has contacted the restaurant for further comment.

Ho Chi Minh led the Vietnamese nationalist movement for more than three decades, fighting against Japanese, French and US-backed South Vietnamese forces.

He remained president of North Vietnam from 1945 until his death in 1969. In July 1976, Saigon was officially renamed Ho Chi Minh City after the leader.

In the 20 years after the Vietnam War ended in 1975, around two million people left the country in a mass exodus to escape the communist regime, with hundreds of thousands dying on the journey.


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