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Vietnam Detains Fourth Internet-User Of Religious Rights Chat Room

HANOI, VIETNAM (BosNewsLife)– Vietnamese security forces have detained a fourth user of an influential Internet forum promoting religious rights and political freedom in the Communist nation.
BosNewsLife obtained a recording of the discussion group ‘Democracy for Vietnam the only way’ (Dan Chu Cho Viet Nam Con Duong Duy Nhat), hosted by website Paypal.com, in which a young man calling himself ‘Freedom for the country’ (Tucdochodatnuoc), attempted to discuss politics for half an hour on March 12.

Among other issues he spoke of a writer who turned her back to Communism after the “Communist troups invaded Saigon on April 30, 1975,” and she realized “that the party lied to her and her people in the North…”

While sharing his opinions from a Hanoi Internet cafe, most likely at 65 Nguyen Chi Thanh Street, he was suddenly interrupted by several police men entering the premises. Before he could finish his last sentence, several of them started shouting, the recording shows. He was asked to go with them with one apparently saying “beat him to death, beat him, pull him out to the police office.”

During the discussion before his apparent arrest, recorded by the forum administrator, he said he was a member of a pro-democracy working group. The administrator continued recording after the police intervention, and a man’s voice is heard on the microphone introducing himself as the Internet cafe’s owner. He confirmed that one of his customers had been taken away by police, according to a transcript. The cafe owner added he had been fined for “violating Internet law.”

SAFETY CONCERNS

A co-activist told BosNewsLife he feared for the safety of the man, whose real identity and whereabouts remain unknown.

“This unnamed youth who is struggling silently for the democracy and freedom of our country. I think he is likely tortured by the atrocious hands of the Communists of Vietnam, if we still keep silent,” said activist Anthony Nguyen of The International Movement for Vietnam ‘s Democracy and Human Rights, which founded the chat room.

In October 2005, three other Internet-users using the same discussion group, Truong Quoc Tuan, Truong Quoc Huy and Lisa Pham, a Vietnamese with US residency, were arrested in Ho Chi Min City. Nguyen suggested the Communist authorities are apparently concerned over the impact of the Internet.

DIFFERENT OPINIONS

“Our visitors are from Vietnam and different countries who can voice their opinions either anti or pro Communism. Sometimes they just describe the hardships they have been through [or] the better lives they made for themselves in democratic countries,” Nguyen explained.

In a reaction, the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders organization said, “This episode very well illustrates the risks run by Vietnamese democrats to get themselves heard. It also provides an insight into the kind of battle going on between the police and these young people who know their way around the Internet.”

The advocacy group said it had “included Vietnam last November in countries we classify as ‘Enemies of the Internet’ which earned us virulent criticism from the Hanoi authorities. These new arrests confirm that Vietnam deserves to be on the list.”

NO COMMENTS

Vietnamese officials have not commented on the arrests, but the government has in the past denied human rights abuses.

The Vietnamese Internet has reportedly been developing since 1997 under the strict control of the Communist Party. In September 2000, the regime proposed a new, inexpensive access formula that would not require a license, Reporters Without Borders said. “Its only drawback is that access is limited to Vietnamese sites,” the organization added.

Several more journalists and dissidents, including Christians, are believed to be held in detention centers in China and Vietnam for their comments on the Internet. (With BosNewsLife News Center ).