Prominent Blogger Pham Doan Trang Vows to Stay in Vietnam to Fight for Democracy, Human Rights

Political blogger, activist Pham Doan Trang

Defend the Defenders, February 28, 2018

Prominent political blogger Pham Doan Trang has issued a statement vowing to remain in the country to work for human rights and multi-party democracy despite increasing persecution against her in recent days.

In the statement posted on her Facebook account Pham Doan Trang, the blogger said she would never leave the country, even for short time for Prague next week to receive Homo Homini Prize for 2017 from the Czech non-profit non-government People In Needs.

“I will never leave Vietnam when there is no change in the country,” she said, implying the country needs drastic political reform to switch from a one-party regime to democratic one.

Trang said she also assured security forces that she will not try to go to Prague to participate in the awarding ceremony scheduled on March 5.

Trang said she is in safe situation, without giving more details on her temporary relocation.

One day earlier, after leaving her mother’s private residence in Hanoi which has been under heavy police surveillance, Trang said in her Facebook account that she will continue to work for defeating the communist dictatorship regardless of the government’s intensifying persecution against her.

“I will fight all kinds of dictatorship and because the communist state of Vietnam is one, I shall fight till the end”

On the afternoon of February 24, two security officers from the Ministry of Public Security cheated her mother and arbitrarily detained her for interrogation about her recent book titled “Chính trị bình dân” or “Politics for all masses” in English translation. The 502-page book explains basic terms of politics and encourage people to get involved in politics to contribute to the country’s development.

After 10 hours of questioning in police station, Trang was released at mid night of the same day. She was warned of not trying to leave her mother’s house in Le Duc Tho residential area in the capital city as the area is under heavy surveillance.

On February 26, she was summoned to police station for interrogation about her interviews by foreign media in 2015 and issues related to her book which has been printed in foreign countries but not allowed in the country.

One day later, Trang was reported to leave the capital city without being tracked by security forces. None can explain how she overcame to go through dozens of police officers and militia sent to station near her mother’s house.

In recent day, her book Chính trị bình dân became popular among Vietnamese in the country and abroad. Activists and ordinary people have been rushing to get copies to know why the government has imposed such severe measures to persecute her just for a book.

For the most time of recent months, Trang has been forced to hide in a bid to avoid harassment of local authorities and she returned to her mother house in recent days only to celebrate the Lunar New Year festival.

Trang is considered one of contemporary leading political dissidents in Vietnam. After resigning as a journalist for state-run media, she has blogged politically and been involved in a number of political activities, including work as a writer and editor for Vietnam Rights Now and Luat Khoa Tap chi, an independent legal website.

She has produced around ten books. Chính trị bình dân is the latest one, in which she encourages all people to engage in politics to settle the country’s issues instead of leaving the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam to decide on the behalf of the 94-million nation.

Due to her political activities, she has been under close surveillance by security forces.

In 2015, she was brutally beaten by security forces while participating in a peaceful demonstration to protest the city’s plan to chop down thousands of old growth trees in the city’s center. Due to the assault, her left leg is still unhealed after a series of surgeries.

In May 2016, she was kidnapped by security forces when she was on her way to a meeting between then US President Barack Obama and civil society in Hanoi when he visited the communist nation.

On November 17 last year, after a meeting with political officers of the EU Member States at the Office of the EU Delegation to Vietnam together with some other activists, she was detained for questioning for many hours and released at mid night.

Due to her brave engagement in social activities, People In Need, a Prague-based organization founded on the ideals of humanism, freedom, equality and solidarity, awarded her with its Homo Homini Prize for 2017.

Responding to the ongoing persecution against Trang, the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) issued a statement to condemn the Vietnamese government and calls for international pressure on the communist regime.

RSF also urges the Vietnamese government to end its crackdown on independent journalists and bloggers or risk paying the consequences.

Along with purging political opponents within the ruling communist party to solidify his power, General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam and his faction in the country’s leadership have intensified their crackdown on local dissents and independent civil society. Since the beginning of 2017, the communist government has arrested at least 47 activists and convicted 30 of them, mostly on allegations of national security provisions in the Penal Code.

The government has discouraged citizens to get interests in politics, saying they should focus on economic activities and leave political issues, including the country’s sovereignty and environmental problems to the party and its government. It considers Chính trị bình dân a provocation as the book encourages people to get involved in politics, so all people can decide major issues of the nation instead of leaving for communists.