Vietnam: Blogger and democracy activist Tran Khai Thanh Thuy beaten and arrested

Arrests of Vietnamese bloggers continue: Blogger and democracy activist Tran Khai Thanh Thuy beaten and arrested *

October 23, 2009 – Vietnamese authorities have arrested another blogger after sending nine internet activists to prison on two to six years terms for expressing their views on the internet.

Tran Khai Thanh Thuy was arrested on the evening of October 8, 2009 after the police sent plain-clothes officers to her house to harass her, her husband, and their 13-year-old daughter. The officers hit Thuy with bricks, causing her a head injury. Thuy and her husband were then taken away by the police, leaving their daughter at home alone.

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Tran Khai Thanh Thuy suffered an injury to her head and her mother (right). [Source: Free Tran Khai Thanh Thuy Blog]

Thuy traveled to Hai Phong earlier that day to support six fellow activists who were held on trial. She was stopped by the police and taken away without cause. After several hours of being held incommunicado, she was released, then arrested again the same evening.

This is not the first time Tran Khai Thanh Thuy has been arrested for her blogging and activism. She was jailed for nine months in 2007 for speaking up and helping aggrieved farmers seek justice for expropriated farm lands. During her imprisonment, she suffered from diabetes and severe tuberculosis but was denied medical care.

Since her release in February 2008, she and her family have been under constant police surveillance and harassment. Her home has been vandalized with human feces.

Tran Khai Thanh Thuy was charged with assault. Vietnamese state-controlled media reported that she and her husband beat and injured another man, hence her assault charge.
A picture of a man bleeding was posted on the state media's website, Dan Tri.

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The doctored photograph of Nguyen Manh Diep’s injuries [Source: Free Tran Khai Thanh Thuy Blog]

Vietnamese bloggers studied the picture and stated that digital data encoded in the picture showed that it was taken on February 28, 2005. However, the picture on the website beared a time-stamp that read October 9, 2009. Many Vietnamese bloggers believe the picture was orchestrated by the police to frame Thuy.

Tran Khai Thanh Thuy is an Honorary Member of English PEN, an NGO working to promote literature and human rights, and the 2007 recipient of Human Rights Watch’s Hellman/Hammett Award.

Thuy's blog can be found at http://trankhaithanhthuy.blogspot.com. We are urging bloggers to raise Tran Khai Thanh Thuy's case by supporting her blog as well as writing to your diplomatic representative in Hanoi to intervene in this case. You can also visit the campaign blog http://freetrankhaithanhthuy.wordpress.com.

* This article has been written with the collaboration of Viet Tan – a Vietnamese pro-democracy group.

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