July 30, 2017
By Defend the Defenders, July 30, 2017
Security forces in Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi have summoned several reporters of the independent Chan Hung Nuoc Viet (Vietnam Revival) Television Channel to local police stations to work on relations with the founder of the channel, imprisoned prisoner of conscience Vu Quang Thuan.
Independent journalists Phan Van Bach, Le Van Dung and Le Trong Hung were asked to be at the Security Investigation Agency under Hanoi’s Department of Public Security next week where they would be requested to answer police’s questions about the channel and his founder, who was arrested on March 2 and charged with “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 of the country’s 1999 Penal Code.
Chan Hung Nuoc Viet TV Channel was created by Mr. Thuan earlier this year as part of activities of Chan Hung Nuoc Viet campaign set up by imprisoned dissident Tran Huynh Duy Thuc more than ten years ago in order to raise awareness of Vietnamese about the country’s issues, including threat of China’s expansionism, unsustainable development, environmental pollution and other issues that the country is facing.
The channel is providing news on social issues, including corruption, power abuse, child molestation, wrongdoings conducted by state officials and other socio-economic issues as well as promote political and civil rights. The reporters use their Facebook accounts to post their live streams production in which they present their reports or invite victims of power abuse to report their cases.
The channel has attracted millions of viewers as it is among few independent news providers in a country where the ruling communist party and its government is strictly supervising media which consists of hundreds of newspapers, television channels and radios which serve as propaganda machine of the party.
Thuan, who is facing heavy sentence of up to 20 years in prison if is convicted, produced numerous video clips on his Facebook account in which he criticized numerous senior leaders of the communist party, including its founder late President Ho Chi Minh. His video clips were fast spread on social network.
Nguyen Van Dien, his assistant, was also detained on the same day and charged with the same allegation.
Vietnams’ government has intensified crackdown against local political dissidents, human rights campaigners, social activists and independent bloggers. Dozens of activists have been detained, imprisoned and harassed since the beginning of 2016 when the ruling party elected the new leadership in which many police generals hold key positions in the party and the state apparatuses.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Vietnam has imprisoned at least eight journalists since early 2016 while Reporters Without Borders ranked Vietnam at 175th position among 180 countries in its 2017 Press Freedom Index.
Last week, Vietnam sentenced human rights activists Tran Thi Nga to nine years in prison and additional five years under house arrest mainly for her video clips on YouTube criticizing the communist party and its government. One month earlier, prominent human rights advocate Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, the well-known blogger with penname Mother Mushroom was imprisoned with 10-year sentence. Both female activists were charged with “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 88.
According to Amnesty International, Vietnam is holding at least 112 prisoners of conscience while Human Rights Watch said the nation imprisons over 100 political prisoners. Hanoi has consistently denied this, saying it only detains persons who broke the law.