Vietnam’s persecution against independent journalists, bloggers or activists, most recently wotj the arrests of Mr. Pham Thanh and Nguyen Tuong Thuy, continues to be under monitoring of local activists and international observers.
Speaking on a BBC talk show on Thursday, engineer Nguyen Lan Thang in Hanoi said: “I’m not surprised. Because in the last period, for the last three to four months, Vietnam’s security forces have been strengthening monitoring and harassing local activists.
“I know that the tensions are in the stage of preparing for the 13th Party National Congress, the security forces must also have some strong moves and they will find someone so they can. arrest, not just because of what Mr. Pham Thanh did.“
From Leeds, UK, blogger Song Chi, former TV director at Ho Chi Minh Television, told the BBC:
“Of course, with the upcoming 13th Party Congress, the situation will be more intense and over the past few years, the persecution against the local dissent has been much stronger. So it is not surprising that many activists got arrested. In recent years there are very prominent faces, such as journalist and blogger Truong Duy Nhat who was arrested and sentenced to 10 years in prison, journalist and doctor of economics Pham Chi Dung has also been arrested and has not been tried.
Therefore it will not be surprising that such outstanding faces were captured, and journalist Pham Thanh was one of the outstanding figures.”
However, the former TV director said that there are still more significant factors behind the cause of the arrest with Mr. Pham Thanh. she said: “But unlike Nguyen Lan Thang, I think that the journalist Pham Thanh was arrested was not only a famous blogger, but also because of his works, especially the book about incumbent General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong.
“Criticizing a senior figure in the Four Pillars or in the Politburo would be far more dangerous.”
“Journalist Pham Thanh wrote a book about Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong so with such criticism, surely the sentence will not be light, I am so afraid,” Chi said.
From Hanoi, Mr. Nguyen Lan Thang exchanged:
“It is true that the opinion is also important, because the political commentary that criticizes the political figures currently in power in Vietnam, must say it is very dangerous.
However, I think that Mr. Pham Thanh’s arrest at this stage was not because of his work.
“If you talk about the social influences, as well as articles criticizing the state and certain characters, there are many in Vietnam.
But what I want to say is that they were targeting Mr. Pham Thanh because Mr. Pham Thanh, despite his great contribution to the social criticism movement, did not have a connection. strong enough, big enough.
“And when they chose Mr. Pham Thanh they chose the moment to attack their prey so they will get the lowest response from the society.”
From Hanoi, Mr. Nguyen Lan Thang talked more about the legal aspect and freedom of speech.
“Of course, the law says not to offend human dignity, not to defame, to say wrong things about other people, that is absolutely true. But in Vietnam, the right and the wrong is a very unclear.”
“In democratic countries, critizing the government and state officials is a normal act but in Vietnam, it is different and the critics often are punished severely.
In a separate development, writer David Hutt commented on May 22 in the Asia Times.
Mr. Hutt noted that the arrest of Mr. Pham Thanh may be in relation to the activities of the Liberal Publishing House.
On its website, the Liberal Publishing House considers itself to be “a non-profit organization, established on February 14, 2019, in the spirit of spreading knowledge and information freedom.”
“We operate independently, with the main activity of publishing and distributing publications that are not subject to the censorship of the Vietnamese government. These publications are distributed through free sale and donation.”
Journalist Mac Viet Hong (Editor of Dan Chim Viet Online, from Warsaw, Poland): The arrest of writers or activists has been consistent with the nature of the communist regime, which always suppresses opposing voices and different opinions.
Speaking about causes, I think they always have a cause to arrest, especially when the Cyber Security Law was passed last year.
Anyone who speaks up about political, social or civil demands in Vietnam is facing arrest, although very compassionate for those arrested, but I’m not surprised of course.
The reason is so far, the direct reason I think that in Mr. Pham Thanh’s case was the newly published book about General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong; The case of Mr. Nguyen Tuong Thuy is related to the Association of Independent Journalists of which he is its vice president.
The BBC asks: Is this a clear sign for a new “campaign“? And if that is the case, then what are the goals, the prospects, the feasibility, the effectiveness or the consequences.
Dr. Nguyen Quang A: If it comes to the campaign, at least for more than 3 years there have always been such “crackdown” campaigns. The goal is to eradicate independent organizations that do not follow direction of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV), which they say publicly. I’m afraid they will continue doing so for at least the next year.
I do not believe the CPV can destroy dissident voices. It may scare some people, but the reality shows that the more persecuted the more people see the truth and the more they speak their different voices.
Journalist JB Nguyen Huu Vinh: It is clear that this is the continuation of a campaign that has been going on for several years: Preventing people from excercising their rights to freedom of expression, press, association assembly.
Many democracy advocates and human rights defenders have been arrested in the last several years.
The purpose is to prevent and threaten the people from having their own voice or persecute government critics.
However, whether the people and those arrested are frightened or not is another story. And whether the purpose of the government is successful or not is a completely different story.
The consequences of the ongoing crackdown are certainly not small, first of all more and more citizens will understand the regime’s bad side while international community understand better the Vietnam’s authoritarian regime.
Journalist Mac Viet Hong: I don’t think there is any campaign. The arrests of activists over the years have been almost regular. For some time, they arrest people, convict them, and release but force them to live in exile abroad in exchange for economic bargain from the Western world and arrest other for compensation. This persecution will continue as long as the communist regime persists.
Unfortunately, such a judgment must be made, but by talking to some people, I think most of the well-known activists in Vietnam today know in advance they may be arrested one day, and they are ready for that.