Novelist and journalist Tran Khai Thanh Thuy (pen names Nguyen Thai Hoang and Nguyen Thi Hien) was arrested last weekend, according to the VietnamNews:
... for alleged activities in violation of Article 88 of the Penal Code, which makes it criminal to spread propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam.Thuy was among eight Vietnamese writers who received the prestigious Hellman/Hammett award in February from Human Rights Watch, which recognizes courage in the face of political persecution. (Read the writers' joint statement on the censored books blog.)
Sophie Richardson, deputy director of the Asia division at Human Rights Watch, which administers the annual award said at the time that:
This is an especially important year to recognize dissident writers in Vietnam. ... Vietnam’s emerging democracy movement has become bolder, more outspoken and public, making activists more vulnerable to government reprisals. The Hellman/Hammett awards give these writers international attention and some protection. ... These writers’ works and lives embody the Vietnam that the government wants to hide, the one in which there is free speech, independent media, and open access to and use of the internet. Those who think that Vietnam’s booming economy means it is loosening up politically should look below the surface, at the plight of writers such as these.According to PEN Canada:
Tran Khai Thanh Thuy was apparently briefly detained on 2 September 2006 for her Internet writings, followed by three weeks of daily interrogation sessions. She was again briefly detained on 11 October 2006 and interrogated about the essays 'The Grotto', 'Self-Narration' and 'Dialogue' written after her detention in September. She was also reportedly brought to an open ‘People’s Court’, in which members of the public are forced to participate in the abuse and humiliation of those accused. She is now believed to have been placed under effective house arrest and has been banned from published her writings on-line. Her case appears to be part of a pattern of organized and widespread police harassment of dissident writers and human rights activists in Vietnam ...Human Rights Watch and other human rights groups say Vietnam's Communist authorities are involved in the most severe crackdown in decades apparently for fear of losing their power base at a time when people, emboldened by economic reforms, are searching for alternatives to the Communist ideology.
This blogger adds her voice to all those asking for Tran Khai Thanh Thuy's immediate release from detention and a cessation of harassment against other writers in Vietnam.
Because freedom of expression is a basic human right!