Press groups have slammed Vietnam for persistently cracking down on press freedom after an independent journalist was arrested. Police in Ho Chi Minh City said they arrested Le Huu Minh Tuan, known as Le Tuan, on June 12 for “making, storing, distributing or disseminating information and materials to oppose the state of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” under Article 117 of the criminal code. They also seized documents and materials related to Tuan’s alleged crime from his house in the southern central province of Quang Nam. Police accused the 31-year-old journalist of having links to Pham Chi Dung, president of the Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam, who has been held in detention without trial since last November. Tuan, who studies law at a university in Hanoi, is being held at Ho Chi Minh City’s Chi Hoa prison. If found guilty, he could face a jail term of up to 20 years.
The Independent Journalists Association, a professional civil society organization established in 2014, said Tuan “is an enthusiastic young intellectual, full of enthusiasm, and concerned about the country’s hot issues.” It said Tuan is among three association members to have been arrested. Another is Nguyen Tuong Thuy, 70, who was arrested on May 24. The association said that with the arrests of its three members and constant harassment of other members, the government is violating and eliminating the rights to free speech, freedom of the press and freedom of association that it has committed to in the Law of International Treaties and the constitution. It accused authorities of completely eliminating peaceful criticism and destroying civil society organizations. “We condemn the blatant repression of the Vietnamese government against the Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam in particular, civil society organizations in general as well as other citizens who use their rights to freedom of speech and press to voice their concerns,” it said in a statement. It denounced Vietnam’s violations and warned the international community about the government’s heavy-handed oppression of the basic rights of its citizens. It called on all people to support independent journalists in the fight for freedom of the press. On June 15, France-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemned the arrest of Tuan, who had been covering Vietnamese politics with a particular focus on civil society efforts to democratize the country. “This young reporter has been playing a major role by peacefully covering the aspirations of Vietnam’s civil society. By silencing those who speak out, the Communist Party leaders are behaving like a ruling class that just seeks to protect its privileges,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk. Shawn Crispin, senior Southeast Asia representative of the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists, urged Vietnam to immediately release Tuan and stop its campaign of harassment of other members of the association. “Vietnam will never be viewed as a responsible international actor as long as it continues to treat independent journalists like criminals,” he said. Vietnam has long been near the bottom of RSF’s World Press Freedom Index and ranked 175th out of 180 countries in the 2020 Index.
Support UCA News...
As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.
That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.
Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.
UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.
And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.
We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.
With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.
Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...