Vietnam Detains Internet Writer; Christian Politician Still In Hiding
By BosNewsLife News Center
4/27/07 Vietnam (BosNewsLife) The Committee to Protect Journalists (CJP) said in a statement it “is gravely concerned” about the recent arrest of Tran Khai Thanh Thuy, an award-winning journalist and writer. Thuy was reportedly taken into custody Saturday, April 21, at her residence, where she was already being held under house arrest.
She was charged with violating Article 88 of Vietnams criminal code, which prohibits the dissemination of information that authorities deem harmful to the state, the CJP said.
Thuy had posted a number of Internet essays calling for greater democracy, according to people familiar with her writings. “Authorities have not indicated which of her articles they perceived to be in violation of the criminal code. If convicted, she faces up to 12 years in jail,” the CJP added.
News of her detention came as an influential Christian politician, Tran Van Hoa was believed to remain in hiding Friday, April 27, after Vietnamese security forces “harassed” him, a key dissident told BosNewsLife.
Tran Van Hoa is “an active Christian” and member of the anti-government People’s Democratic Party was “constantly harassed” by Quang Ninh (province) police, said the activist, Tran Nam , who has close knowledge about the situation. The politician was forced to leave his wife and children to go into hiding, he told BosNewsLife.
Human rights watchers say Vietnam ‘s government is once again curtailing freedom of expression, ending hopes that economic reforms would also come with political and religious changes in the Communist nation. The CPJ said that at least three Vietnamese writers are among those currently behind bars on “antistate charges related to material they posted online.”
It suggested that the policy seens to violate article 69 of Vietnam s constitution which it claimed broadly guarantees press freedom, stating that citizens “shall enjoy freedom of opinion and speech, freedom of the press, [and] the right to be informed, the right to assemble, form associations and hold demonstrations in accordance within the provisions of the law.”
CPJ acknowledged that “conditions had improved for journalists and pro-democracy activists during Vietnam s run-up to joining the World Trade Organization, which it formally acceded to on January 11.”
However, “since then, Vietnamese authorities have resumed their suppression of political opposition groups, sentencing a number of prominent dissidents to long prison terms,” the group claimed.
“Authorities should immediately and unconditionally release Tran Khai Thanh Thuy,” said Joel Simon, CPJs executive director in a statement obtained by BosNewsLife. “The international community must not allow the Vietnamese government to use journalists as negotiating pawns. We call on WTO members to hold Vietnam to account for this cynical manipulation.”
Thuy was reportedly also accused of being a member of Bloc 8406, a pro-democracy group that last year circulated a petition calling for a transition to democracy.
The authorities also accused her of illegally organizing a trade union and supporting a dissident human rights commission, the CPJ said.
Vietnamese authorities have denied human rights abuses. The Communist Party of Vietnam Online Newspaper monitored by BosNewsLife said “organizations instructed her to continue to write articles to slander Vietnam to violate democracy, human rights…”
The paper, which claims to be an organ of Vietnam ‘s Communist Party Central Committee, said she got “in touch with workers in industrial zones and students to excite them to go on strike” and “select elements to send to Thailand to train as key elements of the movement.” It added that she had cooperated with “reactionary individuals and organizations living in exile to oppose Vietnam .”
In February, Thuy was awarded a Hellman-Hammett Grant from Human Rights Watch; the awards are given annually to dissident writers who display of courage in the face of political persecution. Vietnamese authorities have denied human rights abuses.