A wave of arrests and a one-month publishing ban on a news site over its investigations into environmental damage signal that Vietnam is suppressing criticism ahead of the country’s Party Congress, press freedom groups said.
On June 12, authorities charged Le Huu Minh Tuan, from the Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam, with “opposing the state.” Le is the fourth member of the association to be arrested since the group’s founder, Pham Chi Dung, was detained in November.
Pham, a contributor to various news outlets including Voice of America, helped found the association in 2014. Just before his arrest, Pham appeared in a video message broadcast at a conference focused on human rights and the EU-Vietnam free trade agreement.
Last month, Hanoi authorities arrested the association’s vice-president, Nguyen Tuong Thuy, a blogger who reports for Radio Free Asia (RFA), and Pham Chi Thanh, a blogger who recently published a book on the Communist Party’s general-secretary, according to the media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF).