Vietnam: Blogger under Constant Terror of Pro-government Thugs
October 25, 2017, 4:29 am

Defend the Defenders: Pro-government thugs in Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi have constantly harassed local blogger Phan Van Bach in recent weeks but authorities have not intervened despite request from the victim.

Blogger Bach, who is conducting live streams programs on his Facebook account about the country’s hot issues on environment, corruption, and other issues which are ignored by state media, said local thugs often come to his private residence in Trung Tu ward, Dong Da district to threaten to kill him because he is criticizing the government.

The thugs include military veterans and members of the local affiliates of the Vietnam Fatherland Front, the mass organization under umbrella of the ruling communist party.

Thugs also threw dirty messes made from decaying shrimp and waste to his apartment, Bach said.

Bach, who ran for a seat in the country’s parliament in the general election in May last year but was eliminated unfairly by the Vietnam Fatherland Front, have reported the thugs’ harassment to the local police, however, police have yet to take measures to protect his family from the thugs.

Bach is among several bloggers belong to the Chan Hung Nuoc Viet (Vietnam Revival Movement) which aims to fight for multi-democracy, human rights and transparency in Vietnam. A number of members of the movement has been imprisoned, including founder Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, Vu Quang Thuan, and Nguyen Van Dien. Mr. Thuc is serving his 16-year imprisonment on charge of subversion under Article 79 of the country’s 1999 Penal Code while Mr. Thuan and Mr. Dien were arrested in early March and charged with “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 of the law.

Bach and other members of the movement have been summoned by Hanoi police for questioning their relations with Mr. Thuan and Mr. Dien.

The Communist Party of Vietnam and its government closely control media and impose severe censorship in social media. The government has used controversial articles of the Penal Code such as 79, 88 and 258 to silence local political dissidents and online bloggers.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Vietnam is one of countries with highest number of imprisoned journalists while Reporters Without Borders ranked Vietnam at the 175th position out of 180 countries in its World Press Freedom Index in 2017.

Meanwhile, many Vietnamese activists have also been assaulted by pro-government thugs along with being harassed and persecuted from the government. Blogger Le My Hanh was attacked twice in May by pro-government thugs in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City but perpetrators remain unpunished despite denunciations from the victim.

Update 24 August 2017

On August 24, Hanoi-based blogger Phan Van Bach was forcibly detained by the city police, interrogated and beaten before being released in late afternoon, the victim told Defend the Defenders.

The detention was made after Bach refused to come to the city’s Police Investigation Agency to work as a witness in a case of Mr. Vu Quang Thuan and Mr. Nguyen Van Dien, who were arrested in early March and charged with “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 of the country’s Penal Code. In July and August, the agency sent a number of letters to summon him to work on the case.

In the early morning of Thursday, a group of ten policemen came to Bach’s private residence in Trung Tu ward, Dong Da district to detain him and took him to the agency’s Office in Tran Hung Dao street.

At the police station, Bach was interrogated by investigation officer Phan Quoc Uy and his supervisor for hours but the blogger remained silent for the most of time. The police officers asked Bach not to continue to conduct live streams on his Facebook account to criticize the ruling communist party and its government, threatening to charge him with “conducting anti-state propaganda.”

Bach said one moment, the police officers went out of the room and one in plain clothes entered to beat him. Later, Uy came and asked others to arrest the attacker but let him go freely.

As Bach refused to cooperate, police was forced to release him after 5 PM. Bach went out and met with dozens of activists who were waiting for him near the police agency.

Bach said the police did not mention further “working meetings.”

Bach, who ran for a seat in the country’s parliament in the general election in May last year but was eliminated unfairly by the Vietnam Fatherland Front, has been a subject of harassment in the past few months.

On August 18, his apartment was attacked with paint and glass particles while the first attack was on the afternoon of July 29 as his apartment was attacked with a mixture made from decaying shrimp, oil waste and dead crabs. One week later, a group of ten people including war veterans and other members from the Fatherland Front, a mass organization working under umbrella of the ruling communist party, came to his apartment to threaten to beat him.

On the afternoon of August 12, two young individuals came to his apartment, threatening to kill him if he continues to criticize the government. At 10 PM of the same day, his apartment was attacked with a substance containing decaying shrimp.

He reported the attacks to the local police, however, the local authorities have yet to take measures to protect his family from the attacks and thugs.

Bach is among several bloggers belong to the Chan Hung Nuoc Viet (Vietnam Revival Movement) which aims to fight for multi-democracy, human rights and transparency in Vietnam. A number of members of the movement has been imprisoned, including founder Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, Vu Quang Thuan, and Nguyen Van Dien. Mr. Thuc is serving his 16-year imprisonment on charge of subversion under Article 79 of the country’s 1999 Penal Code while Mr. Thuan and Mr. Dien were still held for investigation on allegation of “conducting anti-state propaganda.”

Bach and other members of the movement have been summoned by Hanoi police for questioning their relations with Mr. Thuan and Mr. Dien.

The Communist Party of Vietnam and its government closely control media and impose severe censorship in social media. The government has used controversial articles of the Penal Code such as 79, 88 and 258 to silence local political dissidents and online bloggers.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Vietnam is one of countries with highest number of imprisoned journalists while Reporters Without Borders ranked Vietnam at the 175th position out of 180 countries in its World Press Freedom Index in 2017.

Source: http://www.vietnamhumanrightsdefenders.net/2017/08/13/vietnam-human-rights-defenders-weekly-august-07-13-2017-labor-activist-hoang-duc-minh-added-with-third-charge/

http://www.vietnamhumanrightsdefenders.net/2017/08/13/vietnam-human-rights-defenders-weekly-august-07-13-2017-labor-activist-hoang-duc-minh-added-with-third-charge/