The wife of missing Vietnamese blogger Truong Duy Nhat is pleading with Vietnamese authorities to help look for her missing husband.
Nhat, a former political prisoner and weekly contributor for RFA’s Vietnamese Service, vanished at a shopping mall on the outskirts of Bangkok after going the day before to the Bangkok office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Nothing has been heard of Nhat since his disappearance, and rights groups and members of the Vietnamese exile community say they fear he may have been abducted by Vietnamese police and taken back to Vietnam.
Nhat’s wife, Cao Thi Xuan Phuong, made her plea in the form of a letter to the Vietnamese central government, ministry of foreign affairs, police ministry, ministry of defense and the police department of the city of Da Nang, where the couple resided.
The letter, dated Feb. 9, was posted to Facebook by a friend of Nhat. His lawyer Tran Vu Hai confirmed the authenticity of the letter to RFA’s Vietnamese Service.
According to the letter, Truong Duy Nhat left his hometown Da Nang more than one month ago “without any reason.”
“It was reported that he went to the UNHCR office in Bangkok to apply for refugee status on Jan. 25, then he went missing on Jan. 26,” the letter said.
“Thailand’s government confirmed that they have nothing to do with the disappearance. Meanwhile there are rumors that my husband has been kidnapped by [a military intelligence unit] and escorted back to Vietnam in secret,” Phuong said in the letter.
“Right now we don’t know what actually happened and we are very concerned about his safety and wellbeing,” she said.
In addition to requesting help from the government, she also asked that the media both within Vietnam and in other countries pay close attention to her husband’s case.
At the end of the letter she said she was authorizing Hanoi-based lawyer Tran Vu Hai to work with the government and other agencies on behalf of the family.
“Information about Nhat’s sudden disappearance or possible kidnapping has not been confirmed, but Phuong asked [the central government and several other government agencies] for help,” said Hai.
“Those agencies, to me, are have a responsibility to help citizens in need. If [it is confirmed] that they had anything to do with Nhat’s disappearance, then they must answer [for it],” he said.
The lawyer also said that he had been in contact with Nhat prior to his disappearance.
“I can confirm that on Jan. 23, Nhat asked me to represent him in any circumstance,” Hai said.
“I did not know where he was, but he did contact me. After [he disappeared] his family asked me to do as he asked.”
Nguyen Kim Binh of the Vietnam Human Rights Network said in December that Vietnam was detaining more than 200 political prisoners—surpassing figures tallied by Western human rights NGOs.
This figure includes the nearly 130 people convicted for participating in protests as of November 2018, receiving sentences of up to five years in prison.
Reported and translated by Viet Ha for RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Written in English by Eugene Whong.