Writer faces increasing official harassment, fears imprisonment

New York, December 23, 2004—The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned by Vietnamese authorities’ intensifying harassment of writer Do Nam Hai. The writer, who penned articles critical of the Vietnamese government under the name Phuong Nam, fears that authorities are planning to arrest him, sources close to the journalist told CPJ.

“Vietnam’s record of imprisoning dissenters and writers who question government policy, as Do Nam Hai has, is appalling,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. “We call on authorities to stop harassing Hai, and to respect his right to express his opinions freely.”

In the last five months, authorities have repeatedly detained Hai for interrogation. On August 6, police held him for two days, and on December 3, he was held for 24 hours. A man whom the writer identified as a plainclothes police officer recently confiscated Hai’s computer and said he would remove documents from it.

While living in Australia in 2000 and 2001, Hai, who now works at a bank in Ho Chi Minh City, posted on the Internet a series of long articles on Vietnamese history and politics. The five articles, which included “Vietnam, My Land” and “Writing about President Ho Chi Minh,” expressed his thoughts on aspects of Vietnamese history, called for democracy and a multiparty system, and proposed ideas for peaceful political reform.

On December 10, Hai wrote an open letter to the Vietnamese government disclosing his full name and address, reiterating thoughts expressed in his articles, and detailing the harassment he has faced from authorities during recent months.

“You labeled my articles … as counter-revolutionary, against the Party and the government,” he wrote. “But I have a different opinion; I believe they are materials for democracy.”

Four Vietnamese writers—Nguyen Khac Toan, Nguyen Vu Binh, Pham Hong Son, and Nguyen Dan Que—are currently imprisoned for writing or distributung articles criticizing the government.