Hanoi arrests two 70-year-old journalists ahead party’s 13th National Congress

After the arrest of poet Tran Duc Thach on April 23, within a few days Vietnam’s communist regime continued to arrest writer Pham Thanh on May 21 and today May 23 detained Vice president of the Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam Nguyễn Tường Thụy.

It seems that arresting dissidents is a familiar tendency to “make a contribution to the party” before each national congress. The party is now preparing for its 13th National Congress slated in early January next year.

Coincidentally, all three of these veteran writers were born in 1952 and are now almost 70 years old. And so, after the shooting on the head of 84-year-old party member Le Dinh Kinh in his bedroom in Dong Tam, the cruelty of the oppressive oppressive machine was no longer limited.

In a post on Hongkong-based Asia Times, reporter David Hutt wrote that the Vietnamese communist state was willing to “target any critic who is a problem for the regime“.

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Writer Pham Thanh (Blogger Bà Đầm Xoè) with the book “Nguyễn Phú Trọng: Thế thiên hành đạo hay Đại nghịch bất đạo” (Nguyen Phu Trong: the holder of the mandate of heaven or a great immoral traitor) which was published overseas and posted on social networks in September, 2019

On the evening of May 22, Ms. Nguyen Thi Nghiem, journalist’s wife Pham Thanh, informed RFA that she and her family have yet to receive any specific information from the authorities except that he has been detained for 4 months in detention in Hoa Lo temporary detention facility under the authority of the Hanoi Police Department:

They just handed us two documents the arrest warrant and the house search warrant, so we were going to make administrative submision for regular prison visits. They just let us know that he will be held incommunicado for the next 4 months in Hoa Lo.

According to Ms. Nguyen Thi Nghiem, when the police came to arrest Mr. Thanh at home, there were about 40 police officers standing from outside the gate to their house, so she did not know how the surrounding neighbors reacted to the incident.

Writer Pham Thanh, whose full name is Pham Chi Thanh, 68 years old, has a blog with the nickname Bà Đầm Xoè. He is the author of the book “Nguyễn Phú Trọng: Thế thiên hành đạo hay Đại nghịch bất đạo” (Nguyen Phu Trong: the holder of the mandate of heaven or a great immoral traitor

Which was published overseas and released on social networks in September 2019. There are many rumors on Facebook that writer Pham Thanh was arrested for this book.

In an interview with VOA when publishing this book, Mr. Thanh said: “I am confident that this printing is not illegal. I also want to tell others that they have their right to print their books. If the state does not print, then I, using my rights under Article 25 of the Constitution, shall print it.”

This book is a proof of the data of Mr. Trong’s words and conduct, in his domestic and foreign policies, for China as well as for the world. I realized that Mr. Trong is the person who does everything China wants,” Thanh once told VOA Vietnamese language.

Mr. Thanh added: “I have been 41 years in the Party and the Government. Now I look back to see that this nation has regressed and which are the causes? The reason is that we don’t have democracy, the reason is that the Communist Party maintains dictatorship!”

Journalist Pham Thanh has many years working for the Voice of Vietnam (VOV), self-nominating candidate for the National Assembly Election in 2016, and is also the author of the Socialist Market-Oriented Market Economy book titled Xuống hố cả lũ and a novel Cò Hồn Xã Nghĩa.

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Blogger Nguyen Ngoc Gia, real name Nguyen Dinh Ngoc, was sentenced to 4 years in prison and 3 years on probation for alleged “conducting propaganda against the regime” under Article 88 of the 1999 Penal Code

Former prisoner of conscience Nguyen Vu Binh stated about Mr. Pham Thanh’s arrest:

Before each congress, as a rule, they often displayed prestige, defended the congress, or avoided inconvenience from critics, they arrested some people. These are wrong deeds.

The critics voiced their opinions, expressed the problems of the country and the party’s policies. Their arrests were wrong, not respected by people.”

Independent journalist Nguyen Ngoc Gia, former deputy head of Planning and Project and deputy head of Documentation of HTV Television and a former prisoner of conscience, said that arresting Mr. Pham Thanh is not difficult to understand. he stated as follows: “The first reason, the suppression of dissidents often happens, as sometimes they arrest one-two in a bid to maintain fearness among people. It’s a very clear mental terror.”

When asked about the safety of journalists in Vietnam today, Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Gia, who had been sentenced to 3 years in prison and still has 3 years of probation, said he was concerned about the continued arrest of local journalists for their writings:

It must be said immediately that no one wants to go to prison, especially the journalists like me and Pham Thanh or many others. But when we write, we write with the truth, we write with our conscience as a human, we write for our responsibility for our homeland, for our Vietnamese people, we have to write.”

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Poet Tran Duc Thach was arrested on April 23, 2020 in Nghe An on the allegation of subversion

In addition, Mr. Trinh Ba Phuong worried about the health of 68-year-old journalist Pham Thanh when he was arrested in Hoa Lo:

In hot weather like this, being confined in Hoa Lo prison with a very dense level of detectors — sometimes up to 30-40 people in such a small cell, I find that Hoa Lo detention facility will pose a threat to the health of journalist Pham Thanh, an elderly man.”

Journalist Nguyen Ngoc Gia also raised his concern about Mr. Pham Thanh’s detention, saying that the cramped environment for people of an advanced age is very fierce:

Because Mr. Thanh is almost 70 years old this year, so the problem of being in prison I have experienced is that – it could be a very worrying thing for Mr. Thanh’s old age. Being in prison like us, the real newcomers in prison are very fierce, cruel for what I call ‘innocent jailed people.’ I hope the international community will intervene for Mr. Pham Thanh’s case, especially from the US.”

In turn, the Vice Chairman of the Association of Independent Journalists Nguyen Tuong Thuy was arrested.

Nguyen Tuong Thuy, 70, vice president of the Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam and blogger of Radio Free Asia, was arrested and detained by Hanoi police on the morning of May 23, 2020 with a the allegation of “making, storing, distributing information, documents and articles against the State” according to Article 117 of the Criminal Code.

The arrest of Mr. Nguyen Tuong Thuy took place just two days after the arrest of writer Pham Thanh and the two were charged with the same allegation.

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Founding members of the debut ceremony of the Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam on July 4, 2014. Journalist Pham Chi Dung stands at the far right, journalist Nguyen Tuong Thuy is the person sitting in the third position from the right, writer Pham Thanh is the fourth person from the left, the fifth person next to Pham Thanh is journalist Truong Minh Duc who was arrested in July 2017

Pham Thi Lan, Nguyen Tuong Thuy’s wife, confirmed this information to Radio Free Asia correspondent on the afternoon of May 23 and said he was now deported to Ho Chi Minh City and held at Chi Hoa detention center.

Thuy has been summoned by the Security Agency – Hanoi Police Department 3 times to clarify the contents of the case “Pham Chi Dung propagandized against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.”

Dr. Pham Chi Dung is the president of the unsanctioned Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam.

Dung was detained by HCM City’s Police Department in late November 2019 for allegedly “conducting anti-state propaganda.”

Journalist Nguyen Tuong Thuy was born in 1952, joined the Vietnam People’s Army in 1970s and served for 22 years before being discharged from the army with the rank of captain.

In recent years, he has written newspaper, blogged and is the owner of a blog site named after him with nearly 4 million visitors. In 2014, Mr. Thuy and some other people went to the US and participated in the US Congress’s hearing to testify about freedom of the press in Vietnam.

In an interview with RFA then Mr. Thuy said: “I am a freelance journalist and a blogger. I am interested in online media in the development process of society. In Vietnam today, freedom of the press is very limited and the (government) of Vietnam only recognizes the state press.”

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Blogger Nguyen Tuong Thuy gave an interview to RFA when he arrived in Washington DC on April 25, 2014 to attend the hearing and campaign activities for independent press in Vietnam.
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