Vietnam: Crackdown persists

English PEN is alarmed about another wave of arrests in Vietnam, in which a number of writers and activists have been arrested in recent weeks for their dissenting views and activities. They include internet writers Nguyen Tien Trung and Tran Anh Kim, who were arrested on 7 July 2009 and remain detained.

According to our information, at least six internet writers have been arrested since July 2009 for allegedly ‘threatening national security’ in their writings as part of an ongoing crackdown on political dissent. Those to have been briefly detained include Pham Doan Trang (f), reporter for the Internet news site VietnamNet, arrested on 28 August 2009 and released on 12 September 2009; internet writer Bui Thanh Hieu (aka Nguoi Buon Gio), arrested on 27 August 2009 and released on 5 September 2009; internet writer and journalist Sphinx, summoned by the security police on 31 August 2009 and released on 2 September 2009; internet writer Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh (aka Me Nam) (f), arrested on 2 September 2009 and reported on 14 September to have been freed. Those to remain detained are:

• Nguyen Tien Trung: internet writer and pro-democracy activist, reportedly arrested by the security police in Ho Chi Minh City on 7 July 2009. Aged 26, he is known for his online writings on the issues of freedom of opinion, religion and media, and alleged official corruption. He is also a poet.

• Tran Anh Kim: Internet writer, and author of many articles and essays focusing in human rights and social injustice. Reports say that he has been arrested on charge of ‘spreading anti-government propaganda’ in Thai Binh province on 7 July 2009. Aged 60, he is a former political commissioner and lieutenant colonel in the People’s Army, He is secretary of the Vietnamese Democratic Party and member of Block 8406. 

According to Human Rights Watch, three of the writers and activists arrested in the September 2008 crackdown in Vietnam were charged on 3 July 2009 with ‘conducting anti-government propaganda’, under Article 88 of the Vietnamese Criminal Code. They could face up to twelve years imprisonment if found guilty. These writers are: Nguyen Xuan Nghia, novelist, poet and journalist; Nguyen Van Tuc, farmer, poet and human rights defender; Ngo Quynh, student and dissident online writer. Other writers arrested in the same crackdown, but not yet indicted, are: Pham Thanh Nghien, Internet writer and independent journalist; Tran Duc Thach, poet; and Pham Van Troi, dissident writer and activist.     

For the full Human Rights Watch report ‘Call for release of peaceful democracy advocates’, see:

For the WiPC alert on Vietnam regarding the September 2008 crackdown, see:

Please send appeals:

– Expressing alarm about the ongoing crackdown on dissident in Vietnam, in which the number of writers and activists to be detained is escalating;
–  Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all those detained for the peaceful exercise of their right to free expression, in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Vietnam is a signatory;
–   Urging the Vietnamese authorities to bring to an end all restrictions on Internet writers and activists, and to take measures to ensure freedom of expression.

Appeals to be sent to:

His Excellency Nguyên Minh Triêt
President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
C/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Nguyên Tân Dung
Prime Minister
1 Hoang Hoa Tham Street
Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Lê Doan Hop
Minister of Culture and Information
1 Hoang Hoa Tham Street
Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Please note that there are no fax numbers available for the Vietnamese authorities, so you may wish to ask the diplomatic representative for Vietnam in your country to forward your appeals.

Vietnamese Embassy, London, United Kingdom

His Excellency Tran Quang Hoan  
Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
12 – 14 Victoria Road
W8 5RD
United Kingdom

It would also be advantageous to ask your country’s diplomatic representatives in Vietnam to intervene in the case.


British Embassy, Hanoi, Vietnam

His Excellency Mr Mark Kent
Central Building
4th floor
31 Hai Ba Trung
Fax: ( 84) (4)3936 0561

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