Dissident Writer Arrested on Subversion Charge
RFA | 05-21-2020
Police in Vietnam’s capital Hanoi arrested a dissident writer and blogger on
Thursday on charges of producing and distributing information opposing the
government amid a deepening crackdown on freedom of expression in the one-party
Pham Chi Thanh, also called Pham Thanh, was
taken into custody at 8:00 a.m. by a large group of police who burst through the
door of his home, his wife Nguyen Thi Nghiem told RFA’s Vietnamese Service by
“While my son was opening the door, many police
came into the house, and I heard the noise and came downstairs,” Nguyen said.
“They asked me where my husband was, and I said
he was on the fifth floor watering [bonsai] trees. Then they brought my husband
downstairs, and the police said they had warrants to arrest him and to search
After the police read out their warrants, they
seized two computers, a printer, and some documents, arrested Pham, and left the
house at 10:00 a.m., Nguyen said, adding that she was so weakened and
overwhelmed by anxiety during the arrest that she couldn’t hear clearly what
Pham had been charged with.
Writing later on his Facebook page, another
dissident writer said however that Pham had been arrested under Article 117 of
Vietnam’s penal code for “producing, storing, and disseminating information and
documents against the Vietnamese state.”
RFA has not been able yet to independently
confirm the charge.
Critical books, essays
Born in 1952, Pham Thanh has written a number of
books and essays critical of Vietnam’s communist government and leaders,
including a book self-published in 2019 harshly criticizing Communist Party
General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong.
Dissent is not tolerated in Vietnam, and
authorities routinely use a set of vague provisions in the penal code to detain
dozens of writers, bloggers, and activists calling for greater freedoms in the
one-party communist state.
Estimates of the number of prisoners of
conscience now held in Vietnam’s jails vary widely.
New York-based Human Rights Watch has said that
authorities held 138 political prisoners as of October 2019, while Defend the
Defenders has suggested that at least 240 are in detention, with 36 convicted
last year alone.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service.
Translated by Huy Le. Written in English by Richard Finney