Each day from 1 to 23 November, we will reveal an individual who has been threatened, attacked or worse for expressing themselves. In all of the cases, the perpetrators have gone free. Read their stories. Take action. Help end impunity.
Nguyen Hoang Vi (Blogger, Vietnam)
While 25-year-old Nguyen Hoang Vi (pen name An Do Nguyen) was at a birthday party in Ho Chi Minh this summer for her fellow bloggers, a group of 20 suspected state agents dropped in and started snapping pictures and listening in on conversations. The bloggers remained calm – state agents monitoring their activities was a normal affair.
But when Nguyen and four others left the party by car, they were followed by eight agents, who smashed two of the rear windows. Nguyen suffered the most serious injuries, with cuts on her arms, legs and face.
Nguyen believes the state is out to silence her since she started blogging critically about social issues and gathering news of public events such as anti-China protests and a clampdown on free expression.
When she was arrested to prevent her from reporting on an anti-China protest in June 2011, security agents set up camp outside her home to watch her and her son’s every move. They still haven’t left.
In October 2011, a state agent followed her on her motorbike and caused an accident, in which she lost seven teeth. She says she no longer travels by motorbike fearing another “accident”.
She was laid off from her job in December 2011 due to pressure from government officials. In April 2012 on her way to Cambodia in search of work, she was stopped by border guards who prevented her from travelling, allegedly for being a “reactionary element”. After that, her passport was confiscated and she can’t travel abroad.
Not a single incident was investigated – perhaps no surprise, considering Vietnam’s history of cracking down on bloggers. Just this September, Vietnam’s leadersordered police to arrest those responsible for anti-government blogs, and three bloggers were sentenced to up to 12 years in jail on anti-state propaganda charges.
Stand with Nguyen Hoang Vi and defend free expression.
A special thank you to the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA), Free Journalists Network of Vietnam (FJNV) and Danlambao for contributing to this action.
CALL TO ACTION Sign the petition calling on the Prime Minister of Vietnam to investigate the harassment and attacks of blogger Nguyen Hoang Vi and other bloggers, and to let her travel freely.
H. E. Nguyen Tan Dung
Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam
Re: Attacks and arrests of Vietnamese bloggers
18 November 2012
Dear Prime Minister,
As we mark the International Day to End Impunity on 23 November, we write to express our concern about the attacks and arrests being conducted with impunity against Vietnam’s bloggers, particularly those who write and report about social and political issues.
These attacks – including threats, verbal abuse, detention without charges and physical attacks – have been conducted by persons believed to be state intelligence or security personnel. Blogger Nguyen Hoang Vi has been the victim of attacks and harassment on at least four occasions, including an incident this summer when she and other bloggers were attacked after a party. In addition, in October 2011, Nguyen Hoang Vi was followed on her motorbike by a State Agent whom she claims caused an accident, in which she was badly injured and lost seven teeth. In December she lost her job and she was also prevented from travelling in April 2012.
This has created a climate of intimidation, and it is alarming that no investigations have been conducted into these unlawful actions.
We are further concerned about an order issued in September 2012, which directs police to investigate and arrest those responsible for three blog sites – Danlambao, Quanlambao, and Biendong. Then on 24 September 2012, we note with alarm that bloggers Nguyen Van Hai (aka ‘Dieu Cay’), Ta Phong Tan and Phan Thanh Hai (aka ‘Anh Ba Saigon’) were convicted for blog posts on various issues and sentenced to long jail terms.
We fear that these restrictions will further embolden those who have attacked bloggers. Furthermore, these convictions send a warning and chilling effect to those who openly speak their minds, whether through blogging or other means.
Expressing an opinion and taking a stand on public interest issues, as bloggers have done, are universal human rights protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Vietnam ratified in 1982.
In view of the above, we urge you to end impunity for state agents who threaten, harass and attack bloggers, who are merely exercising their human rights to hold any opinions and to express these openly. We further ask you to investigate these attacks as well as the pattern of jailing bloggers for peacefully exercising their right to free expression, to stop censoring public interest blogs, and to lift the de facto travel ban on Nguyen Hoang Vi, and allow her and others for whom there is no legal justification to prevent their movement, to travel freely.