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Vietnamese activist nabbed for anti-state activity

Peter Bui Tuan Lam arrested for making, storing and spreading information against the government

Activist Peter Bui Tuan Lam pictured with Marian statues before his arrest

Activist Peter Bui Tuan Lam pictured with Marian statues before his arrest. (Photo supplied)

Published: September 10, 2022 04:32 AM GMT

Updated: September 12, 2022 03:45 AM GMT

Police in the central Vietnamese city of Da Nang has detained an activist who works for social justice and human values for spreading anti-government materials.

On Sept. 7, state-run Danang Newspaper reported that public security officers arrested Peter Bui Tuan Lam for making, storing and spreading information and materials against the communist government under Article 117 of the Penal Code.

The newspaper said Lam, 38, was charged with joining domestic civil society groups accused of fighting against the Communist Party and the government as well as reactionary groups abroad.

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It said the detainee took courses in civil society, non-violent struggle and church social teaching. He was also accused of posting messages, photos and videos on social media to distort the government's policies and insult government leaders.

Lawyer Le Quoc Quan, who dedicates himself to promoting human and democratic values, said the father of three daughters was arrested by a group of plainclothes officers soon after he left his brother’s house, while police surrounded his own house. Later police also searched his house.

Lawyer Quan said Lam, who always wears a rosary around his neck, sells beef noodles for a living and regularly provides free food for people in need and old soldiers who fought for former South Vietnam.

As an active Catholic, he took courses in civil society and non-violent struggle and made positive contributions to the democratic movement in the country.

The dissident lawyer, who was sentenced to two and half years in jail in 2013 for tax evasion that was denounced as politically motivated by international human rights groups, said Lam designed a T-shirt with the words “Free Lawyer Le Quoc Quan” and also accompanied Quan’s mother to the headquarters of the United Nations in New York and advocated his release.

He said last year the noodle seller was famous for his viral video in which he imitated the flamboyant moves of chef Nusret Gokce, or "Salt Bae," a few days after Vietnam's powerful Minister of Public Security To Lam was caught on camera eating gold-encrusted steak at the Turkish chef's London restaurant. Lam was summoned by police for the video but he denied mocking the minister over the steak.

Lawyer Quan said that the Catholic activist loves the church and wants to carry out the church's social teaching.

“However, he has recently paid much attention to looking after his own family and taking part in charitable and religious activities,” he said.

Quan said his arrest is further proof of the government crackdown on patriotic citizens who are always awake to the nation's future.

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