Three Vietnamese Facebook Users Missing, Feared Detained

Relatives seeking answers are sent first to one place then another by police, family members say.

Ngo Van Dung and Xuan Hong are shown in images taken from Facebook.

Three Vietnamese citizens active on Facebook have disappeared in police custody during the last week, with local authorities dodging questions from family members about those believed to have been detained, Vietnamese sources said.

One, Ngo Van Dung—a resident of Buon Me Thuot city in the central highlands province of Dak Lak—vanished on Sept. 4, Dung’s wife Kim Nga told RFA’s Vietnamese Service on Friday.

“On Sept. 4, some friends of his in Saigon told me that he had been detained and was at the Ben Nghe commune police station,” Nga said.

“I traveled 400 kilometers to Saigon to see him, but when I got to the police station, they told me to go [to another place].”

Directed next to two other stations, Nga was finally told to ask about her husband at a commune called Ben Thanh, she said.

“At Ben Thanh, police confirmed that they had detained him, but said they had already transferred him to the authorities in our own hometown,” she said.

“I then went back to Dak Lak to wait for information, but have still not heard anything more about him.”

Called by RFA for comment, an officer at the Ben Thanh police station denied any knowledge of Dung’s arrest.

Meanwhile, two other Vietnamese active on Facebook—Xuan Hong and Pham Vu Phong—were reported by their families to have been detained on Sept. 2 in the Dong Hung Thuan commune of Saigon’s District 12.

Speaking to RFA, family members said they had gone to commune police offices to ask where the detained were being held, but were sent to other police offices in the district, which also denied knowledge of the arrests.

As of Sept. 7, none of the families of those in custody had received formal notice of, or explanations for, the detentions, relatives told RFA.

Vietnam, with a population of 92 million people, of which 55 million are estimated to be users of Facebook, has been consistently rated "not free" in the areas of internet and press freedom by Freedom House, a U.S.-based watchdog group.

Dissent is not tolerated in the communist nation and authorities routinely use a set of vague provisions in the penal code to detain dozens of writers and bloggers.

Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Richard Finney.