Many Vietnamese Bloggers Barred from Meeting with U.S. Senior Diplomat, One Detained

Independent bloggers at a meeting of IJAVN in Hanoilast year
Independent bloggers at a meeting of IJAVN in Hanoilast year

[themify_box style=”blue, announcement, rounded ” ]Security forces in Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi on May 10 blocked private residence of a number of bloggers, barring them from attending a meeting with U.S. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Tom Malinowski, who is visiting the communist nation to prepare for the upcoming visit of President Barack Obama to the Southeast Asian nation.[/themify_box]

By Vu Quoc Ngu, May 10, 2016

Security forces in Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi on May 10 blocked private residence of a number of bloggers, barring them from attending a meeting with U.S. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Tom Malinowski, who is visiting the communist nation to prepare for the upcoming visit of President Barack Obama to the Southeast Asian nation.

Among victims of Hanoi police’s suppression are Mr. Nguyen Tuong Thuy, vice president of Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam (IJAVN), Mr. Vu Quoc Ngu, executive officer of Defend the Defenders (DTD) and co-president of Vietnam Independent Civil Society Organizations Network (VICSON), and blogger Le Anh Hung.

The bloggers said Hanoi’s authorities have deployed a large numbers of plainclothes agents to set up patrol points near their private residence, and block the activists when they tried to go out. A senior security officer in Thanh Tri district said he received an order from his supervisors not to allow Mr. Ngu to go out today.

Mr. Hung, who has many anti-corruption articles posted on Voice of America radio, was reportedly to be detained to a city’s police station in Tran Hung Dao Street. His situation is unclear.

Last month, security forces in Hanoi also detained many senior official of IJAVN and barred other members from participating in a meeting of the group which aimed to discuss the U.S.-Vietnam relations and the visit of President Obama. IJAVN fights for freedom of press in Vietnam.

During his stay in Hanoi, Mr. Malinowski and Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel have worked with numerous government agencies to prepare the working schedule of President Obama who scheduled to arrive in the communist nation on May 22.

Mr. Malinowski planned to meet with representatives of local civil society organizations, including IJAVN to ask their proposals on strengthening the two countries’ comprehensive partnership and enhancing human rights situation in the Southeast Asian nation.

At a press conference in Hanoi on May 9, Mr. Russel said human rights and legal reform are one of five key issues of the upcoming visit of President Barack Obama to Vietnam.

Speaking with local media, Mr. Russel said the U.S. is interested in the ongoing legal reform in Vietnam, including amending the country’s laws in compatible with the Constitution 2013 and universal human rights standards.

The U.S. wants people in foreign countries, including Vietnam, can enjoy universal human rights, he said, adding the improvement in the issue is important for bilateral cooperation and stability and economic development of its partners.

Strong Vietnam with respected universal human rights will serve for the interests of Vietnamese people, Russel said.

Vietnam considers independent civil society organizations illegal, and applies a number of measures to suppress them.

Along with banning international travel for political dissidents, social activists and human rights, Vietnam has also barred them from meeting with foreign diplomats.

Prior to the country’s general elections for the parliament and People’s Councils in the provincial, district and communal level and the upcoming visit of President Obama, Vietnam has intensified crackdown to silence local activists.

In the past two weeks, police have violently suppressed a number of peaceful demonstrations for environmental issues nationwide. Hundreds of activists have been detained for interrogation, and dozens of them, including women, elders and children have been severely beaten by security agents.