Police in Vietnam’s northeastern port city of Hai Phong brought a dissident writer and former political prisoner in for questioning on Wednesday after a young man brought three copies of a politically sensitive book to his home, asking the man to “explain” them to him.
Police arrived almost immediately after the writer, Nguyen Xuan Nghia, was handed the copies of Politics For Everyone, banned by authorities after being published last year by activist blogger Pham Doan Trang, Nghia told RFA’s Vietnamese Service.
“They arrived at my house very suddenly and forced me to go with them to the district police station for questioning, dragging me along with them,” Nghia said.
“They questioned me mainly on my having two of the three copies of Politics For Everyone, saying also that I had ‘sold’ the third copy [to the young man who had brought them],” he said.
Following hours of interrogation, Nghia was released after signing a statement that the police who questioned him had not beaten him or violated his human dignity, Nghia said, adding that his son was told to sign a form acknowledging his release and bring him home.
Though he had not been physically harmed, Nghia told RFA, he had felt “terrorized and threatened” during his ordeal.
A long-time advocate of multiparty democracy in Vietnam, Nghia was arrested on Sept. 11, 2009 and sentenced to a six-year prison term for conducting “propaganda against the state.” He was released on Sept. 11, 2014.
Copies of Politics For Everyone, which is considered politically sensitive in Vietnam, were seized by customs agents in the central coastal city of Danang on Feb. 9 when they were shipped into the country from abroad.
Pham Doan Trang, the book’s author, was detained on Feb. 24 by security officers who asked her about her book and other activities and held her for 23 hours before returning her to her home under house arrest, fellow activists told RFA in earlier reports.
Trang had recently been given the Homo Homini Award from People in Need, an international human rights organization based in the Czech Republic that recognizes individuals dedicated to the development of human rights, democracy, and nonviolent solutions to political strife.
Writing later on her Facebook page, Trang said that she would not attempt to go abroad to receive her prize in person.
“I will never leave Vietnam until Vietnam has changed,” Trang said.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Richard Finney.