Arrest of famous Vietnamese journalist sparks global protests – AsAmNews

Vietnamese authorities arrested prominent journalist, blogger and author Truong Huy San earlier this month for content posted on social media. In response, several human rights organizations and activists protested his arrest and demanded his immediate release.

San, better known by his pseudonym Huy Duc, first served in the Vietnamese army for eight years in the 1980s before becoming a journalist. He began his career as a journalist in 1988, joining the team of Youth newspaper (Bao Tuoi Tre), in Ho Chi Minh City, where he tirelessly covered and reported on Vietnamese politics, and later worked for several other Vietnamese newspapers.

San founded a blog in 2006 where he commented on social and political topics, but was fired from his job as a journalist in 2009. His blog was closed in 2010 by Vietnamese authorities. Since then, he has worked as a freelance journalist and publishes articles on social, political and environmental topics in Vietnam on Facebook.

In 2012, while spending a year at Harvard University on a Nieman Fellowship, San wrote The winning sidea journalistic account of post-war Vietnam that is widely considered one of the most important books on Vietnam’s post-war history and politics.

San was arrested on June 1 for “abusing democratic freedoms” by posting articles on Facebook that “harmed state interests and the legitimate rights and interests of organizations and individuals.” New York Times. The charges fall under Article 331 of the Penal Code, which is “an overly broad law that authorities frequently use against government critics,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) said.

His arrest was confirmed Friday evening by Vietnamese authorities, and his family, who had previously had no news, was also informed of his arrest. San’s Facebook account had amassed more than 350,000 followers before it was shut down on June 1, and his home and workplace were searched, Vietnamese media reported.

According to another HRW report, neither San’s family nor his lawyer have been allowed to meet with him since his incarceration.

Patricia Grossman, associate director for Asia at HRW, said: “By unjustly arresting Huy Duc, Vietnamese authorities are targeting one of Vietnam’s bravest and most influential journalists.” “Vietnam’s international donors and business partners should denounce Huy Duc’s arrest as a blatant attack on freedom of expression and demand his immediate release,” Grossman continued.

The 88 Project, an American non-profit organization that advocates for human rights in Vietnam, shared screenshots with the New York Times and wrote an article critical of the Vietnamese police titled “A COUNTRY CANNOT DEVELOP BASED ON FEAR.”

On May 28, San published an article criticizing Nguyen Phu Trong, the general secretary of the Vietnamese Communist Party. His most recent messages before his arrest, according to HRW, “warned of the myriad dangers posed by the concentration of power within Vietnam’s notoriously repressive Ministry of Public Security,” while another denounced the failures of an official anti-corruption campaign led by the Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security. the ruling Vietnamese Communist Party.

“Huy Duc is Vietnam’s most influential journalist,” Ben Swanton, director of Project 88, said in a newspaper interview. New York Times. “His arrest represents an alarming attack on press freedom and is the latest in an ongoing crackdown on reformers. »

According to Spectrum News, San was scheduled to attend a small public event in Hanoi on June 1, but did not show up. Friends then discovered that the police had gone to his home, arrested him and spread the news of San’s detention on social media.

At the same time, Vietnamese authorities also arrested lawyer Tran Dinh Trien, who represented clients in high-profile cases. Trien faces the same charges as San and was also arrested due to content posted on his Facebook.

The arrests of San and Trien are part of an intensified crackdown on criticism by Trong. Since 2016, journalists, human rights and environmental defenders, bloggers and those who have criticized the government or demanded reforms have faced imprisonment.

According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), “journalists critical of the regime are regularly accused of spreading ‘propaganda against the state’ or of ‘abusing democratic freedoms’ and can be sentenced to sentences of up to ‘twenty years in prison.’.

These actions have drawn growing condemnation from human rights organizations and activists around the world, who have called for the immediate release of all journalists and others detained by the Vietnamese government.

On Friday, RSF tweeted: “According to RSF sources, political commentator #HuyDuc, missing since June 1, is detained by police in #Hanoi after publishing several articles on the political instability of the regime. We demand his immediate release! “.

“The articles by independent journalist Huy Duc constitute an invaluable source of information allowing the Vietnamese public to access information censored by the Hanoi regime,” said Cédric Alviani, director of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk, in a press release. public Friday. “We call on the Vietnamese authorities to immediately release this journalist and reinstate his Facebook page.

Shawn Crispin, senior representative of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CJP) in Asia, said that “Vietnamese authorities should immediately reveal where they are holding journalist Truong Huy San and release him unconditionally,” in a statement released Thursday. “Vietnam must stop treating journalists like criminals and release all members of the press unjustly detained behind bars.

According to the 2024 World Press Freedom Index established by RSF, Vietnam ranks 174th out of 180 countries and territories listed. Vietnam was also the fifth country with the most imprisoned journalists in the world, with 19 journalists detained as of December 1, 2023, according to the latest annual global prison census carried out by the CJP.

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