Last Updated: Thursday, 24 July 2014, 13:56 GMT

Attacks on the Press in 1996 - Vietnam

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date February 1997
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 1996 - Vietnam, February 1997, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/47c5651f23.html [accessed 25 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

March 9
Ly Chandara, Tu Do, IMPRISONED

Chandara, the editor of Tu Do (Freedom), an anti-Communist Vietnamese-language newspaper published in Phnom Penh, was expelled by Cambodian authorities to Vietnam. He was among several dozen ethnic Vietnamese opponents of Hanoi - very loosely affiliated with one another, and collectively termed the "Tu Do Movement" - whom the Cambodian government expelled or threatened with expulsion between December 1995 and December 1996. Chandara was taken into custody at the Vietnamese border and incarcerated in Vietnam for seven months. He was released on Oct. 10 and immediately repatriated to Cambodia, after promising Vietnamese officials that he would not conspire against Vietnam or engage in any other political activity. However, Chandara said in late January 1997 that he was seeking permission from the Cambodian government to relaunch Tu Do. Human rights activists in Phnom Penh had questioned Cambodia's authority to expel Chandara, citing as evidence of his Cambodian citizenship a voter registration card in his name for Cambodia's U.N.-supervised elections in 1993.

July
Hanoi Moi, HARASSED
Tien Phong, HARASSED
Kinh Doanh Van Phap Luat, HARASSED

The Interior Ministry began investigations of three newspapers, the daily Hanoi Moi (New Hanoi) and weeklies Tien Phong (Pioneer) and Kinh Doanh Van Phap Luat (Business and Law), for allegedly disclosing state secrets. All three newspapers are published by Communist Party or state organizations. In March, Hanoi Moi's Sunday edition reported that Vietnam Airlines lost US$7.2 million when the Dutch aircraft manufacturer Fokker went bankrupt because under the airline's contract with Fokker, cash payments to the manufacturer were nonrefundable. Tien Phong and Kinh Doanh Van Phap Luat published articles in May and June suggesting that the state-owned Vietnam Oil and Gas Corp. was making excessive concessions to Broken Hill Proprietary Co., an Australian mining company that was attempting to renegotiate a production-sharing contract for an offshore oil field. Vietnam's criminal code prescribes prison terms of up to 15 years for intentionally disclosing state secrets, but does not define what constitutes a secret.

August 22
Nguyen Xuan Tu (Ha Si Phu), Free-lancer, IMPRISONED, LEGAL ACTION

A Hanoi court imposed a one-year prison sentence on Tu, a biologist and dissident writer whose pen name is Ha Si Phu, for violating Article 92 of the Criminal Code, a national security provision that outlaws possessing or divulging "state secrets." Tu received credit for time already served, and was released in December 1996. Police had arrested Tu at his home in Dalat on Dec. 5, 1995. Two days later, they searched his house and confiscated thousands of pages of documents and manuscripts, including two issues of Thien Chi, a monthly Vietnamese-language journal published in Germany that had reprinted some of Tu's essays. Earlier in 1995, he had written an essay in which he called Marxism-Leninism an outdated relic that was harmful to the country's economic reforms. In a Dec. 4, 1995, radio interview on a California station, he called on Vietnamese-Americans to lobby the United States to withhold most-favored-nation trading status for Vietnam until that country's democracy was "well developed."

September 9
Dylan Martinez, Reuters, ATTACKED

Police severely beat Reuters photographer Martinez as he attempted to photograph a demonstration by market women in Hanoi. The demonstration, held outside the Hanoi city government offices, involved about 70 vendors who were protesting conditions imposed by the managers of a newly reopened market. A busload of police arrived while Martinez was photographing the demonstrators. As he walked away, a dozen policemen surrounded him, threw him to the ground, and repeatedly kicked and punched him. He was then thrown into a van, where police again kicked him, and taken to the local police station. Before being released, Martinez was forced to destroy seven rolls of unexposed film and sign a statement acknowledging that the incident was his fault.

October 31
Adam Schwarz, Far Eastern Economic Review, EXPELLED

Schwarz, the Hanoi-based Vietnam correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review, was expelled from Vietnam after the government refused to renew his visa. Schwarz's expulsion followed heavy censorship of the magazine in the last year, in which government authorities blacked out articles, glued pages together, and cut out articles from copies circulated in Vietnam. The censored material included an obituary of the late foreign minister, Le Mai, and a special section on trade and investment in Vietnam. Despite Schwarz's expulsion, the magazine's Hanoi office remained open, and Far Eastern Economic Review editors said they planned to assign another correspondent to the post. Schwarz had been in Hanoi for nearly two years.

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