“I don’t want freedom just for myself, that’s too easy. No, I want something greater – freedom for Vietnam,” Pham Doan Trang wrote in a letter in May 2019 with the intention that it should be made public in the event of her arrest.
Arrested at around 11:30 p.m. yesterday, she had been placed in pre-trial detention on a charge of “anti-state propaganda.”
“Pham Doan Trang’s arrest is the latest stage in the headlong pursuit of ever-greater repression by the Vietnamese Communist Party’s current leadership,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk. “Her only crime has been to provide her fellow citizens with independently-reported information and to help them to fully exercise their rights under Vietnam’s constitution. Her place is not in prison. She must be released at once.”
As for “propaganda,” Trang founded Luât Khoa, an online magazine providing information about legal issues, and edits thevietnamese, a publication that also helps Vietnamese citizens to understand the country’s laws, defend their rights and resist the Communist Party’s arbitrary rule.
She has also written several books, including “Politics for the people.” Her latest initiative was an investigation into a massacre in Dong Tam, a village on the outskirts of Hanoi that was the target of a violent raid by police last January with the aim of suppressing resistance by residents contesting the seizure of their land by the authorities.
RSF was last in touch with Trang five weeks ago, when she was temporarily hospitalized as a result of the after-effects of a beating at the hands of the police when arrested in August 2018.
Vietnam has been near the bottom of RSF’s World Press Freedom Index for years and is currently ranked 175th out of 180 countries.
“Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Pham Doan Trang, a Vietnamese journalist who was awarded the RSF Prize for Impact a year ago and who was arrested last night in Ho Chi Minh City.”