A young Vietnamese blogger was briefly detained by police upon returning home to Da Nang on Jan. 31 after he spent three years abroad studying, doing human rights work, and working as an intern for an Australian lawmaker.
Nguyen Anh Tuan, 22, was detained by police around 10 p.m., immediately after he got off his flight from Siem Riep, Cambodia to Da Nang, his father Thi told RFA’s Vietnamese Service.
“I went to the police office right after I heard the news at around 2 o’clock in the morning, demanding an immediate release of Tuan,” Thi said. “They asked me to cooperate with them, but I did not have any way to cooperate with them. My son came back only after studying abroad. Why would they detain him?”
Thi told RFA his son was released at about 4:30 a.m.
Nguyen Anh Tuan, who blogs for RFA, was described as a brave and talented young man, who friends say turned down two different invitations to join the Communist Party of Vietnam.
“Tuan is a young talented man, who has a strategic vision. He can do a lot for the country. If Vietnam was a democratic country, Tuan could be a politician,” said friend and fellow blogger Doan Trang. “But as Vietnam is an authoritarian country, Tuan is an activist fighting at the forefront for democracy. Tuan does not want to join the party even though they want him.”
In 2011, after Vietnamese legal scholar, government critic, and dissident Cu Huy Ha Vu was arrested for possessing documents critcizing the government, Nguyen Anh Tuan wrote a letter to the prosecutor’s office, voluntarily turning himself in because, he said, he also possessed similar documents.
Trinh Huu Long, an attorney and a friend, told RFA that the young man’s actions in the Cu Huy Ha Vu case took guts.
“I was impressed with Tuan for his bravery and intelligence,” he said. “He is among a few brave people who dared to stand up for the rule of law and democracy by sending a letter saying that he possessed documents just like Cu Huy Ha Vu's, and if that possession was illegal then they should have arrested him too.”
Nguyen Anh Tuan graduated cum laude from the National Academy of Public Administration. He has traveled to more than 20 countries in the past three years to study and promote democracy and human rights in Vietnam. For three months he interned for Australian Member of Parliament Chris Hayes.
“His bravery showed through his human rights activities at a time that only a few people dared to do that, and this was quite new to young people in Vietnam,” Trinh Huu Long told RFA. “He joined such activities when he was still in college. After his graduation, he continued participating in many democratic activities, including anti-China rallies in Hanoi.”
Reported by RFA's Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Brooks Boliek.