Vietnamese Activist Interrogated, Beaten for Delivering Books Printed by Unregistered Publisher

Dissident books printed by the Independent Publishing House

Defend the Defenders, October 23, 2019


Saigon-based pro-democracy activist Vu Huy Hoang has been interrogated and beaten by police in Ho Chi Minh City for his attempt to deliver books that were printed by an unregistered publisher called Liberal Publishing House.

Speaking to Defend the Defenders, the 46-year-old activist said he received an order to supply 10 copies of Đại Nghịch Bất Đạo and five copies of Ký Đinh Quang Anh Thái to a retired state official Kha Luong Ngai on October 15. When Hoang arrived at a private resident of the recipient in the morning of last Tuesday by his motorbike, plainclothes agents detained him and took him to a police station in Ward 6, District 3 for interrogation.

Hoang said that in the beginning, plainclothes agents beat him brutally on his head and body in police custody, but they stopped physical torture against him after they had more information about his social activities from the city police’s record.

Hoang was interrogated from 11 AM until 9 PM of the same day by security police officers from District 3, the city’s Police Department and the Ministry of Public Security about the contents of the ordered books and their origin: who and where have printed them.

The experienced activist said he remained silent in most times before police officers escorted him to his house. However, his house was under surveillance during the night and the police said they would summon him for further interrogation in the coming days.

In the early morning of October 16, when the surveillance was loosened, Hoang took his opportunity to leave his house and went into hiding. Now he was forced to stay inside in a secret place far from his family. He said he may have to stay away from his wife and two kids for months although he can communicate with them via secret chat applications such as Whatsapp, Telegram or Signal.

Hoang started his social activities in 2012 when he joined other activists in HCM City, Hanoi and other locations on various issues, including China’s violations of Vietnam’s sovereignty in the East Sea (South China Sea) and Hanoi’s weak response, human rights violations, serious environmental pollution, and charity programs. He is a member of the unregistered groups named the Vietnam Pathway Movement and the Liberal Publishing House.

In May 2016, local blogger and political writer Pham Doan Trang was invited by the US Embassy in Vietnam to participate in a meeting between local activists and then-President Barack Obama on the sidelines of his official visit to the communist nation. Hoang escorted Trang from HCM City to Hanoi but they were traced and detained by security forces in their midway. Police kept them for several days in a remote motel in the central province of Ninh Binh so Trang was not able to take part in the meeting.

Meanwhile, the Independent Publishing House is trying to produce unique books of political dissidents and writers considered as harmful for the communist regime which strives to halt the house’s works and suppress its staff.

Dozens of unofficial books have been printed by the Liberal  Publishing House and their authors include political writers Pham Doan Trang, Pham Thanh and others from foreign countries.

Ký Đinh Quang Anh Thái is a book of the US-based veteran writer Dinh Quang Anh Thai, who is the incumbent editor-in-chief of the Nguoi Viet Daily News (or Người Việt). In this book, he wrote about prominent Vietnamese political dissidents and their activities which aim to promote human rights and multi-party democracy in Vietnam.

On the other hand, Đại Nghịch Bất Đạo is a book of Hanoi-based veteran journalist Pham Thanh about Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong, who is also the general secretary of the ruling Communist of Vietnam. In his book, Thanh described Trong as the biggest traitor of the Vietnamese nation.

Vietnam’s security forces are striving to demolish the Independent Publishing House and persecute its staff.