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Vietnam 15 March 2002

Two dissidents arrested for publishing documents on the Internet

In a letter addressed to the Vietnamese Minister of Public Security, lieutenant general Le Minh Huong, Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontières - RSF) called for the release of Le Chi Quang and Tran Khue, two Vietnamese dissidents recently arrested for publishing on the Internet documents critical of the government. RSF is preoccupied about the repression against dissidents who use the Internet to provide or obtain information about their country’s political situation, and especially concerning relations between Vietnam and China. "As the United Nations Human Rights Commission is about to meet in Geneva, a new wave of repression shows just how much Vietnam is an enemy of free expression," said Robert Ménard, general secretary of RSF. image 150 x 187 (JPEG)

According to information obtained by RSF, Le Chi Quang, a computer teacher who also has a law degree, was arrested on 21 February 2002 in a cyber café in Hanoi. He was charged with sending "dangerous information" overseas. Police seized computer equipment and documents at his home. Le Chi Quang, 31 years old, was then placed in detention in camp B14 in Ha Dong province (north of the country). His arrest followed the publication on the Internet of a text entitled "Beware of the Northern Empire". This very detailed document discusses the conditions under which Vietnamese authorities signed border agreements with the Beijing government. The document was widely distributed in the Vietnamese community overseas.

On 8 March 2002, police in Ho Chi Minh city searched the home of Tran Khue, a professor of literature and founder of an association that fights against corruption. They seized a computer, a printer, a camera, cell phones and documents belonging to the dissident. On 10 March, he was placed under house arrest according to administrative directive 31/ CP. This decision followed the publication on the Internet of a letter from Tran Khue to Chinese president Jiang Zemin, just before he made an official visit to Vietnam. Tran Khue asked Jiang to reexamine some parts of the Sino-Vietnamese accords. In August 2001, Tran Khue had been arrested and taken to his home after investigating the situation in areas on the Chinese border.

Reporters sans frontières also points out that two other dissidents, Ha Sy Phu and Bui Minh Quoc, are also under house arrest in Dalat (south of the country).

In a report entitled "Enemies of the Internet" ( published in February 2001, RSF wrote: " Politics and religion are taboo on the Internet. Almost 2000 sites deemed politically or morally "dangerous" are "manually" filtered by the Vietnam Data Corporation (the VDC, which depends on the Posts and Telecommunications administration). Relatives of leaders of the Communist party’s Central Committee run the nation’s ISPs. The director of Financing and Promoting Technology (FPT), Truong Gia Binh, is the son-in-law of general Giap, a hero of the war of independence. Recently, an expatriate Vietnamese investor was denied the right to participate in the Internet sector, a domain reserved for the elite."

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