Independent Journalist Interrogated About Relations with Imprisoned IJAVN’s Chairman


Defend the Defenders, March 6, 2020


Authorities in Vietnam’s southern province of Binh Duong have interrogated local independent journalist Nguyen Thien Nhan about the Independent Journalist Association of Vietnam (IJAVN) in which he is a member, and its President Pham Chi Dung, who was arrested in late November last year and charged with “conducting anti-state propaganda.”

Mr. Nhan said he was summoned by the police in Hoa Phu ward to “work” on his residence registration and the local area’s security issues on March 4’s morning. However, he was questioned by four security officers from the province’s Police Department.

During two-hour interrogation, the police officers questioned him about the IJAVN and its president’s detention, Nhan’s trip to Thailand in 2015, and his writing on his Facebook page, Nhan told Defend the Defenders.

Police officers said that the IJAVN is an unregistered organization and its president Dung has violated the country’s law. They also said that they are collecting information about Nhan’s anti-state activities.

Nhan, who is among key figures of the IJAVN, rejected the accusations of the police, saying the organization was established according to the country’s Constitution 2013 and the international conventions in which Vietnam is a signatory party. He also affirmed that he has not violated the country’s laws.

Mr. Nhan is among a number of independent journalists being harassed in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, Ms. Le Thu, an independent reporter based in Ho Chi Minh City, has also been intimidated for months. She told Defend the Defenders that under the pressure of the local police, her landlord requested her to move out of her renting apartment although their renting contract is still in effect. The landlord even attacked her after the two sides exchanged words. Finally, Thu agreed to leave the apartment and seek a new place for her and her small daughter who have to move from one place to another several times in recent years due to police intervention.

Harassment and intimidation in the cases of Mr. Nhan and Ms. Thu are among the numerous tactics of Vietnam’s security forces against local citizen journalists. Others include arrest and imprisonment. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Vietnam is imprisoning 12 independent journalists and the most recent victim is Dr. Pham Chi Dung, who was arrested few days after sending an open letter to the European Parliament to urge the parliament not to approve the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement unless Hanoi agrees to improve its human rights records. However, the European Parliament passed the pact on February 12 despite the call of dozens of international and domestic rights groups to suspend its approval.