A blogger in Vietnam who has been critical of the one-party communist state was prevented by the authorities on Thursday from traveling abroad, a month after he was attacked by suspected government agents.
Catholic blogger Nguyen Huu Vinh said staff at the Noi Bai Airport in Hanoi stopped him from boarding a flight to Singapore when he wanted to accompany his mother, who needed medical treatment in the island state.
The airport authorities said they were acting on police orders.
"At noon today, I escorted my mother to the airport to travel to Singapore, where she needs medical treatment. After checking in, we proceeded to the waiting lounge but I was withheld there," he told RFA Vietnamese service.
"I did not know the reason. I was taken to a room and told I was prevented from going abroad based on orders by the Hanoi Police. At that time, I was so surprised because, under Vietnam Law, notifications of such preventions should be made before departure," Vinh explained.
Vinh, a former policeman in his mid-50s, has been an outspoken blogger, writing about social injustice, official corruption, and Hanoi’s response to what many Vietnamese see as Chinese “aggression” in the South China Sea, waters claimed by both countries.
He has been questioned more than 30 times by the authorities over his writing, including by the Ministry of Public Security.
He was attacked by knife-wielding thugs last month after he took part in an anti-China rally in Hanoi amid a government crackdown on activists who attended the rare public demonstrations.
Vinh received cuts on the neck, back, chest, and hands before neighbors responded to his calls for help and the thugs ran away.
He said the ringleader of the group was the son of the head of a neighborhood committee, the lowest level of local government administration. The charge could not be immediately verified with the authorities.
'Based on truth'
Vinh said that when he was questioned by the authorities over his writings, he would always emphasize that what he wrote was the truth and that it would be illegal for them to prevent him from doing so.
“All of my writings are based in truth and reality. If you want to prohibit me from writing these realities, you should get the National Assembly to promulgate a law banning people from telling the truth. Then I’ll abide by that law,” Vinh said.
“I want to live in a society under a state of law in which everything must be clear and transparent,” he added.
Vinh is a member of the Archdiocese of Hanoi, and many of his articles have documented the repression of Roman Catholics in Vietnam, including Hanoi’s Thai Ha parish.
His blog was hacked in 2010 amid a series of cyberattacks on dissident websites that media watchdog Reporters Without Borders said may have been part of a government crackdown.
He has witnessed, blogged about, and posted photos of religious crackdowns and land seizures, as well the anti-China rallies this year and last year.
Vietnam has imprisoned more than a dozen bloggers and activists in the past three years for using the Internet to promote their causes and express their opinions.
Reported by Khanh An for RFA's Vietnamese service. Translated by An Nguyen. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai and Rachel Vandenbrink.