Vietnamese Police Harass Blogger’s Sister


2013.03.21
vietnam-internet-cafe-jan2013-305.jpg A man reads news on his laptop at a coffee shop in Hanoi, Jan. 15, 2013.
AFP

Authorities in Vietnam have stepped up their harassment of an outspoken blogger’s dissident family and barred a once-imprisoned activist blogger from receiving medical treatment.

Huynh Khanh Vy, the sister of online political and social commentator Huynh Thuc Vy, and her husband have been targeted for frequent residence permit checks and have lost job and study opportunities because of police intervention, Khanh Vy told RFA’s Vietnamese Service Thursday.

Khanh Vy, Thuc Vy, and their brother Huynh Trong Hieu, all in their twenties, are the children of dissident writer Huynh Ngoc Tuan, who previously served 10 years in jail.

Police have harassed the Huynh family at their home in Quang Nam province in recent years since Thuc Vy and Tuan’s blogs began receiving attention.

Now authorities are targeting Khanh Vy and her husband at their current home in Danang, and her husband has lost his job since joining the family, she said.

“Because I was born in a family deemed ‘counter-revolutionary,’ I have had to face a lot of harassment and repression by the communist government. Both my husband and I are their targets.”

“My husband has been unemployed since we got married because of police intervention at his company,” she said, adding that police had confiscated his computer.

Her plans to study abroad have also been thwarted by the authorities, Khanh Vy said.

"For studying abroad, I asked my former teacher to give me a reference letter. At first, she happily agreed; but later she told my husband that police sent a request to the university department asking them not to use the  [university's] stamp [on my letter].”

Police have conducted frequent household registration permit checks on the couple, she said.

“They conduct activities such as ‘temporary residence’ checks at night and intervening with our the landlord to get our lease terminated,” she said.

As soon as she complained online about the police harassment this week, police came to conduct another household registration check, said Khanh Vy, whose blogging has not been as outspoken as her siblings’.

"This morning, as soon as my writing about the police harassment was posted on the Internet, police came to do a residence check and argued loudly with my brother,” she said.

A dissident family

Other members of the Huynh family have been subjected to ongoing police surveillance and harassment—a common experience for dissident bloggers in Vietnam, which is listed by press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders as an “Enemy of the Internet.”

In 2011, police raided the Huynh family home in Tam Ky, confiscating their computers.

The next year, after Thuc Vy went to Ho Chi Minh City to take part in an anti-China demonstration, police took her into custody and drove her back to Quang Nam, in what she said was an attempt to scare her into avoiding future protests.

After Thuc Vy and her father Tuan were each awarded an international free speech prize last year, Hieu, the brother, who is also a blogger, planned to travel to pick the awards up on their behalf, but was barred from leaving Vietnam and had his passport confiscated.

Vietnamese authorities have jailed and harassed dozens of bloggers, citizen journalists, and activists over their online writings since stepping up a crackdown on freedom of expression in recent years.

Many have been jailed under Article 88 of the Vietnamese Criminal Code for “conducting propaganda against the state,” and international rights groups and press freedom watchdogs have accused Hanoi of using the vaguely worded provision to silence dissent.

Pham Thanh Nghien

One activist who was imprisoned under Article 88 over her outspoken blog posts, Pham Thanh Nghien, said Wednesday that authorities overseeing her house arrest are barring her from getting medical treatment.

Nghien, who has been kept under “probationary detention” or house arrest in Haiphong since her release from a four-year prison sentence last September, said she needs treatment at a Ho Chi Minh City hospital, but police have not responded to her request.

Two weeks ago, police set up a security checkpoint outside her house, she added.

Reported by Thanh Truc and Mac Lam for RFA’ Vietnamese Service. Translated by An Nguyen. Written in English by Rachel Vandenbrink.

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