Huynh Thuc Vy, 26, blogs about democracy, human rights, and political violence in Vietnam, a country rated rated by Reporters Without Borders as one of the world's top "Enemies of the Internet."
The daughter of a dissident who spent 10 years in jail for his writings, Huynh Thuc Vy has faced fines from authorities for her “propaganda” and endured a raid on her family’s home last year, when police confiscated their computers.
On July 1, Huynh Thuc Vy went Ho Chi Minh City to take part in an anti-China demonstration. Three days later, she was taken into custody and driven to her home province of Quang Nam, where police interrogated and harassed her in what she believes was an attempt to scare her into avoiding further protests.
She spoke to RFA’s Nanh Kanh about her ordeal on July 6, just after returning home:
Everything started happening after [the demonstration on] July 1. On July 4 I went to the police station in Tan Quy Ward, District 7 in Ho Chi Minh City. Police kept me there for three hours. I intended to go home with my husband, but when we left the station police from my home province came and forced me into their van and took me away without my husband.
I didn’t know which street or road we were traveling on, until finally I realized we were going back to my hometown. The van went very fast, and during the trip the personnel in the van interrogated me and were harassing me and terrorizing me.
When the van stopped at Tam Ky [the capital city of my home province] the security police of the PA 61 office [a special branch of the police] came to meet me and asked many questions of me repeatedly for a long time. I know that they knew the answers already, but they continued to ask me.
They were intentionally terrorizing me and harassing me. They kept asking the same questions over and over again.
They asked me about the purpose of my writing, the purpose of the demonstration, and how I knew about the demonstration. They wanted to know how we communicated as organizers. They wanted to know if my father approved of me attending the demonstration, where I stayed in Ho Chi Minh City, and who I stayed with.
They asked many private questions, like about my email address, my username on Skype, and my passwords, but I wouldn’t tell them. They tried to trap me to make it look like I was denouncing my friends who took part in the demonstration.
They wanted me to talk about Hang Bui [a nationalist demonstrator who was arrested and sent to jail after anti last year’s anti-China demonstrations]. I told them I don’t care about her past, what her ideas are, or her behavior. To me she is a patriotic demonstrator. She tried to do the best thing for our country, so I respect her.
Around 9:30 pm on July 5 I finally got home, but they dumped me out of the van a few kilometers away from my home, so I had to walk all the way back at night.
The whole time I was in the police station I didn’t eat or drink. They only gave me a little water and a little rice porridge. I was starving. I felt very exhausted because they kept interrogating me and I had to work with many different people. They wouldn’t say the reason why they detained me.
I guess that they are afraid that I will participate in the next demonstration next weekend. I think that’s why they forced me to go back to my hometown. They are trying to control me during that time.
I tried to speak up for my country to show how much I love it and the people.
The police asked me if I had just participated in the demonstration or whether I was an organizer who had encouraged other people to join. Actually, I just wanted to participate to show how much I love my country.
Actually, the Vietnamese police act like gangsters. It makes me feel ashamed because they present themselves one way, but act totally lawlessly.
I’ll do whatever it takes to show the basic human rights of the citizens of Vietnam, but they told me that it was illegal because the laws of Vietnam are different from those in other countries. They explained that as a Vietnamese, I must follow Vietnamese law.
I said, when you’re playing a soccer match, do you follow the laws of Vietnam or do you play according to international rules? They went silent because they had no answer to that.
Even if they arrest or detain or kidnap me, I’ll still keep my faith that I will never stop doing what I can for my country.
They’ve taken many of my family’s laptops. We had to save money instead of eating to buy those, but they took many of them away from us. Right now we are dealing with many difficulties in our family. I will try to continue my efforts to fight to make Vietnam better in the future.