By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
HANOI, VIETNAM (BosNewsLife) — A US-based Vietnamese woman end two of her friends were approaching their 8th month in captivity Saturday, June 17, after being arrested by Vietnamese security forces for demanding freedom in Vietnam during discussions in an influential Internet forum promoting religious and political rights, fellow activists and family told BosNewsLife.
Truong Quoc Tuan, Truong Quoc Huy and Lisa Pham, a Vietnamese with US residency, were arrested in Ho Chi Min City October 19, as Communist authorities are apparently concerned over the impact of the Internet, said activist Anthony Nguyen of The International Movement for Vietnam's Democracy and Human Rights, which founded the chat room.
Lisa Pham, who celebrated her 37th birthday behind bars this month, said "freedom in Vietnam," her sister, Diane Pham told BosNewsLife. "They put her in jail and the guys she was staying with," she added. "Can you please help my sister get out of jail?"
There is also concern over the whereabouts of a fourth Internet user, detained in March this year, after he expressed his concerns about life in Vietnam in the same Internet forum, known as 'Democracy for Vietnam the only way' (Dan Chu Cho Viet Nam Con Duong Duy Nhat), hosted by website Paypal.com, BosNewsLife established.
The man, using a nickname 'Freedom for the country' spoke among other issues about a writer who turned her back to Communism after the "Communist troops invaded Saigon on April 30, 1975," and she realized "that the party lied to her and her people in the North…"
While sharing his opinions from a Hanoi Internet cafe, most likely at 65 Nguyen Chi Thanh Street, he was suddenly interrupted by several police men entering the premises, BosNewsLife learned. Before he could finish his last sentence, several of them started shouting, a recording of that conversation showed. He was asked to go with them with one apparently saying "beat him to death, beat him, pull him out to the police office." His exact name remained unknown Saturday, June 17, and activists expressed fears he may have been tortured.
During the discussion before his apparent arrest, recorded by the forum administrator, he said he was a member of a pro-democracy working group. The Internet café owner was apparently fined for "violating Internet laws."
Fellow activist Viet Si, a California based former religious and political prisoner, told BosNewsLife he sent a letter to the Congress and the US embassy in Vietnam asking American officials to intervene and demand their release.
"Lisa Pham, a South Carolina permanent resident [who visited Vietnam] and her friends, Tuan and Huy were arrested in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) by Vietnamese police almost 8 months ago while they were only expressing their honest views about the deadly systematic corruption, the inefficiency and the illegitimacy of the so called government of Vietnam," he wrote.
Vietnamese officials have not commented on the arrests, but the government has in the past denied human rights abuses. The Vietnamese Internet has reportedly been developing since 1997 under the strict control of the Communist Party. In September 2000, the regime proposed a new, inexpensive access formula that would not require a license, Reporters Without Borders said.
"Its only drawback is that access is limited to Vietnamese sites," the organization added. Several more journalists and dissidents, including Christians, are believed to be held in detention centers in China and Vietnam for their comments on the Internet. "The arrest of the known Internet users is "among thousands of secret arrests," in Vietnam claimed Viet Si. (With BosNewsLife Research and BosNewsLife News Center).
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