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Mystery over student's arrest

Authorities admit detention but fail to explain charges

  • Asia Desk, Bangkok
  • Vietnam
  • October 24, 2012
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Mystery surrounds the arrest and detention of a university student for “anti-government propaganda” even though the focus of her activities was said to be anti-Chinese.

Police entered a boarding house at the University of Food Industry in Ho Chi Minh City on October 14 and took 20-year-old Nguyen Phuong Uyen and three other female students for questioning. The three others were released the same day, they said.

The released women later said police arrested them over allegations that Phuong Uyen distributed leaflets criticizing China, amid a standoff with Vietnam over the disputed Paracel and Spratly islands.

The leaflets, which were also posted on the internet, read: “For the nation’s pride, opposing Chinese invaders. For the countries future, opposing corruption.” There has been speculation that the government may have taken offence at the reference to graft.

Authorities did not confirm the arrests until yesterday, when they told mother Thi Nhung her daughter was accused of distributing “anti-government propaganda” and had been moved to a police station in neighboring Long An province. But Thi Nung claims the authorities have not explained the charges against Phuong Uyen and at first denied arresting her.

“I don’t believe my daughter has committed a crime against the government,” she said, adding that her daughter “hates China” and boycotts its products

Fellow students have sent a petition to President Truong Tan Sang calling for her release. Comments have been posted on social media sites calling the arrest a “kidnapping.”

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