Vietnam Communist Regime Arrests Third Independent Journalist in Effort to Demolish IJAVN

Young journalist Le Huu Minh Tuan (right) with dissident poet Bui Minh Quoc


Defend the Defenders, June 12, 2020


Vietnam’s communist regime has arrested the third journalist named Le Huu Minh Tuan in an effort to demolish the unregistered group Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam (IJAVN), Defend the Defenders has learned.

Local activists reported that on June 12, the security forces of Ho Chi Minh City’s Police Department arrested Mr. Tuan, who is a member of IJAVN, and has a number of articles under penname Le Tuan. It is unclear what the charge he is facing, but his arrest is likely related to the previous detentions of IJAVN’s President Phạm Chi Dung and Vice President Nguyen Tuong Thuy, who were accused of “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 117 of the Criminal Code with imprisonment of between seven and 12 years if are convicted.

Tuan was said to be taken to Chi Hoa temporary detention center under the authority of HCM City’s Police Department, where Mr. Dung and Mr. Thuy are held incommunicado since their arrest in November 2019 and May 23 this year, respectively.

Mr. Tuan, 31, joined IJAVN in 2014. He graduated from Da Nang University, majoring in history. He is currently working on a second degree at Hanoi Law University.

In the months after the arrest of Mr. Dung, Tuan was repeatedly summoned by security forces for interrogation about the association. Tuan’s friends advised him to go into hiding to avoid being harassed or detained, however, he refused, saying he didn’t want his studies interrupted. He also acquiesced to these questionings because he believed he hadn’t done anything wrong.

In order to keep the country under a one-party regime, the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam is striving not to allow the formation of opposition groups and civil society organizations. After arresting a dozen of key members of the unsanctioned group Brotherhood for Democracy, Vietnam’s security forces are targeting IJAVN which has more than 50 independent journalists and dissidents who have produced thousands of unbiased articles regarding hot issues of the country such as human rights violations, systemic corruption, widespread environmental pollution, China’s violations of the country’s sovereignty in the East Sea (South China Sea) and the weak response of the communist regime in Hanoi, failures of socio-economic policies of the ruling Communist Party, etc.

Under the communist regime’s provision, IJAVN is a thorny group that should not exist. Since its establishment in 2014, it and its members have been under constant persecution of security forces who strive not to allow its members to gather or meet with foreign diplomats. In November last year, the security forces started their campaign to crack down on the association by arresting its President Dung and a half year later, they detained Acting President Thuy.

A number of its members are under threat and may be arrested at any moment as the security forces want to eradicate the association ahead of the upcoming 13th National Congress scheduled in January 2021.

Vietnam is among the world’s biggest enemies of the press. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Hanoi held 12 journalists under the bar for their journalism activities as of 2019’s end while the Reporters Without Border (RSF) has placed Vietnam at the bottom of its annual free press indexes in recent years.

So far this year, Vietnam has arrested at least 12 activists, nine of them for their writings. Vietnam is also among the biggest prisons of prisoners of conscience in Southeast Asia, with more than 250 activists being kept behind bars.