Six activists arrested in Vietnam, says dissident group

HANOI (AFP) — Security forces in communist Vietnam have arrested six pro-democracy activists — including two US, one French and one Thai national — a dissident group said Tuesday.

Police detained them last Saturday in the southern hub of Ho Chi Minh City and were still holding them at an unknown location, the US-based Viet Tan (Vietnam Reform) party said in a statement.

“Before their arrest, they participated in discussions with other democracy activists on promoting peaceful democratic change,” the group said.

“Specifically, they aspired to publicise information on successful non-violent struggles from around the world and to use these lessons to help empower the Vietnamese people.”

Among those reported arrested were three Viet Tan members — US citizens Nguyen Quoc Quan, a mathematics researcher, and Truong Van Ba, a Hawaii restaurant owner; and Frenchwoman Nguyen Thi Thanh Van, a contributor to Viet Tan’s outlawed Radio Chan Troi Moi (New Horizon).

Police also arrested three other political activists — Thai citizen Somsak Khunmi and two Vietnamese nationals, Nguyen The Vu, a trader, and his brother Nguyen The Khiem — the group said in its statement.

Viet Tan said the families of the local residents and the embassies of the non-Vietnamese citizens had not yet been notified and expressed its “deep concern for the safety of these six individuals.”

“While these individuals may have different backgrounds and reside in different countries, they are Vietnamese patriots who share a common dream to establish democracy and reform the country,” said Viet Tan.

A police official in the city’s district 11, where the detentions reportedly occurred, told AFP only that “We have not heard anything about this affair.”

Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemned the reported arrests, saying the French citizen was a “renowned freedom of expression activist” who also wrote for the monthly Viet Nam Dan Chu (Democracy in Vietnam).

“We call for their immediate release since they were only engaged in peacefully promoting freedom of expression,” the media freedom group said.


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