Vietnam Detains Young Activist Over Critical Facebook Comments

vietnam-facebook-07052017.jpg Detained activist Tran Hoang Phuc's Facebook page, with his reaction to being blocked by police from meeting U.S. President Barack Obama in 2016.
Tran Hoang Phuc

Vietnam has arrested a young activist for posting material critical of the government on social media, his mother told RFA's Vietnamese on Wednesday.

Ho Chi Minh City native Tran Hoang Phuc, 23, was detained on July 3 on the accusation of "possessing materials, producing and posting videos on internet critical of the government" under article 88 of Vietnam's penal code, she said.

"I went to talk with Hanoi police on July 3 and was told that Phuc has been detained," Huynh Thi Ut, Phuc’s mother, told RFA.

The detention order issued by Hanoi police on July 3 says that Phuc is in the custody of Hanoi police.

Rights groups and Western governments say Vietnamese authorities frequently use Article 88 and the charge of "propaganda against the state" to arrest and imprison those who support democracy and human rights and denounce abuses.

Phuc was selected to take part in the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI), a U.S. government leadership development and networking program in Southeast Asia. He was invited to meet with then U.S. President Barack Obama last year when Obama visited Vietnam, but police blocked Phuc from going to the meeting.

"I have worked with Phuc on some education and business strategy consultancy projects," former political prisoner Le Thang Long told RFA.

"Phuc is a serious young person who is truly patriotic. He always obeys the laws so I am very surprised to hear from his mother that he has been detained," he added.

Phuc's detention follows the sentencing on June 29 of activist and blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, known as Mother Mushroom, to 10 years in prison under Article 88 for her Facebook posts and interviews with U.S. news agencies.

Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Paul Eckert.


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