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Friday, 11 October 2013

Vietnam Questions 12 Activists After Training Stint in the Philippines

Vietnam Questions 12 Activists After Training Stint in the Philippines

The three activists who were detained on Oct. 8 shown in a picture taken during their NGO training course in the Philippines.
Photo courtesy of an RFA listener
Authorities in Vietnam detained for questioning a dozen young activists on their return from a training stint with a civil society organization in the Philippines amid suspicion in Hanoi that they might be involved in anti-government activities, according to friends and family.

The 12 youths had attended the two-week 2013 Civil Society study program with rights organization Asian Bridge Philippines in Manila and were taken into police custody in three separate groups on their return to Vietnam, beginning late last week.

“When I arrived at the airport, there were many policemen, which I already anticipated,” said blogger Bui Tuan Lam, among four activists held at the Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat Airport after deplaning on Oct. 5.

“[They] took me to a room at the airport with seven or eight people in it … and kept me there for 16 hours,” Lam told RFA’s Vietnamese Service.

The others held with him included blogger Yeu Nuoc Viet and activist Tran Hoai Bao.

“They asked me … about the course, how many people attended, who organized it, if I knew that ‘hostile forces’ were behind it … I told them I didn’t care about that [and that] all I cared about was that it was a good course about civil society, which is very weak in our country.”

The second group of five was detained on Oct. 6 at Hanoi’s Noibai Airport and included Do Van Thuong, Nguyen Viet Hung and Dang Hai Di, while the third group detained two days later at Tan Son Nhat Airport comprised Pham Tran Quan, Truong Quynh Nhu and Bui Thi Dien.

All nine activists detained in the first two groups were released late in the evening on Oct. 6 while the third group was released on Thursday, Lam said.

He said the 12 had met with Philippine NGOs and lawmakers, and representatives of the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Asian Development Bank.

He said that he decided to return home although he learned about the detention of some of his colleagues earlier “because I did not do anything wrong—I only went to learn some new things for the benefit of our country.”