In the latest case of government intimidation of bloggers and a
crackdown on online dissent, Vietnamese police have
harassed a family of three outspoken writers and bloggers.
On Friday, police swarmed the home of writer Huynh Ngoc Tuan, 48, in Tam Ky, where he lives with his daughter Huynh Thuc Vy and son Huynh Trong Hieu, who are both bloggers.
Huynh Ngoc Tuan previously served 10 years in jail for his calls for
freedom and democracy and his children have expressed criticism of the
In an interview with RFA, his daughter Huynh Thuc Vy said that the
police arrested one of the family’s relatives, confiscated their phones
and cameras, and issued them a fine.
“Around 3:00 p.m., a hundred policemen came. Fifty of them stormed
the house and 50 blocked the road. … When I took out my camera to take a
video for evidence, two female officers twisted my arms behind my back
and two male officers took the camera from me. They hit me on the arms
and legs,” Huynh Thuc Vy, 26, told RFA.
Police arrested her cousin, Huynh Ngoc Le, for trying to stop the police from hitting her, Huynh Thuc Vy said.
“I got bruises on my arms and legs. They tore my clothes, my aunts’
clothes, and my brother’s clothes. Whatever happened, our family is just
worried about my cousin.”
“His situation is urgent because we don’t know how he is or where he is. My family is very worried about him and tomorrow we will go ask around to find out where he is being held,” she said.
Huynh said that the police gave the three members of the family a fine.
“They read us a decision to fine my father 100 million dong (U.S.
$4,800), myself 85 million (U.S. $4,100), and my brother 85 million.
They said we had 10 days to pay the fine.”
She did not say what the fine was for, but when policemen previously
searched the family’s home in November, the provincial information and
communications department said the three had engaged in “propaganda
against the party and state” and violated laws against the use of
technology to conduct activities against the government, Tuoi Tre News
U.S.-based Human Rights Watch has accused Vietnam of mounting a
sophisticated and sustained attack on online dissent that includes
detaining and intimidating anti-government bloggers, including those who
publish on foreign sites.
Huynh Ngoc Tuan and his daughter have both published articles on the overseas news website, DanChimViet.info.
After his release from 10 years in prison in 2002, Huynh Ngoc Tuan
continued to write about human rights violations in Vietnam. His
membership in Bloc 8406, a coalition of Vietnamese pro-democracy groups,
is also believed to have offended the authorities.
His entire family has been under police scrutiny since the police
interrogated him in 2009. In July 2011, daughter Huynh Thuc Vy received
an “invitation” from the police for questioning, but her father stopped
her from going.
Daughter Huynh Thuc Vy has blogged about topics such as the dispute with China over territory in the South China Sea, the law on protests that Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dun recently proposed, the revolution in Egypt, and Vietnamese human rights issues.
When the police searched the family’s home in November, they
confiscated a computer, USB keys, and notebooks with the Huynh Thuc Vy’s
and Huynh Trong Hieu’s writings.
Huynh Thuc Vy took photos and video of the incident and posted them online.
“They visited our house before, on November 8,” she said. “But at
that time they were nicer and more normal. They allowed me to take
This time, police confiscated their cell phones and cameras, and did
not issue a report for the items they took, Huynh Thuc Vy said, adding
that she thought police were harsher this time because she had blogged
about the last incident.
“Maybe it’s because I posted too many pictures and videos on the net,
so they felt ashamed. This time they were really horrible. They told me
that if I even just took out my cell phone, they would confiscate it.
They took six of my phones in the end.”
“I’m very worried because I won’t have any proof of how they terrorized our family,” she added.
The police also confiscated money the family had received from overseas supporters, she said.
“In the last 10
days, people [overseas Vietnamese] sent us U.S. $3,000 and we put the
money in the cabinet. When we opened it [after the incident] the money
“My family is very worried because we don’t know what they are going
to do to us. Maybe they will confiscate the house and our property.”
She said the police continue to keep an eye on her family, having staked out a spot at a café down the street.
“I think they only needed one person to deliver the notice of the
fine, or they could have mailed it. They didn’t need 100 policemen and
they didn’t need to storm into our house. I think they stormed into our
house like that just to terrorize our family. … Another reason is that
the police made a show of force … to the people there [in the
neighborhood] so they would be silent,” she said.
Reporters Without Borders ranks Vietnam 165th out of 178 countries on
its press freedom index and lists the country as an “Enemy of the
Internet.” The France-based organization also says Vietnam is currently
holding at least three journalists and 17 bloggers in jail.