05/14/2020

Urgent Action: Independent Booksellers Tortured by Police (Viet Nam: UA 78.20)


Two members of the Liberal Publishing House – a local independent publisher that sells books considered sensitive by the government – have been detained and tortured by police in Ho Chi Minh City. Since early October 2019, police have harassed and intimidated dozens of people connected to the Liberal Publishing House in what appears to be a targeted campaign. The individuals who have been targeted are believed to have either bought or read books printed by the publisher, or to have worked for the publishing house.

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  1. Write a letter in your own words or using the sample below as a guide to one or both government officials listed. You can also email, fax, call or Tweet them.
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Prime Ministrer Nguyễn Xuân Phúc
Due to postal restrictions caused by COVID-19, please only send physical mail to the Embassy
Fax: +84 80 44130
Email: [email protected]
Ambassador Ha Kim Ngoc
Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam
1233 20th St NW Ste 400, Washington DC 20036
Phone: 202 861 0737 I Fax: 202 861 0917
Email: [email protected]
Salutation: Dear Ambassador

Dear Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc,

I am writing about the crackdown against members and patrons of the Liberal Publishing House (Nhà Xuất Bản Tự Do), a local independent publisher that has produced books on public policy and political thought in Viet Nam. I find it distressing to learn about two of its members who have been arbitrary detained and tortured, and many others who have had to flee for their safety over the last year.

On 8 May 2020, police in Ho Chi Minh City arrested and detained Thủy Tuất, a member of Liberal Publishing House when he was delivering books to a reader. Thủy Tuất was interrogated and brutally tortured. Upon release, despite having serious injuries, Thủy Tuất went into hiding fearing that police might re-arrest him. Subsequently, police arrested his 24-year-old daughter and refuse to release her unless Thủy Tuất returns to the police station. She remains in detention.

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Police in Ho Chi Minh City have been accused of arbitrarily detaining and torturing a staff member of Liberal Publishing House before. Across the country, hundreds of people have reported their experience of being interrogated for buying books from Liberal Publishing House since October 2019.

Both Viet Nam’s Constitution and international human rights law guarantee the right to freedom of expression, which includes the right to receive and impart information and ideas. This includes accessing and reading information contained in books such as those printed by the Liberal Publishing House.

I urge you to release Thủy Tuất’s daughter immediately and stop the harassment and intimidation against Thủy Tuất and his family; stop the crackdown against Liberal Publishing House and its supporters immediately, and order an independent and thorough investigation into the alleged torture and arbitrary detention cases; and ensure that Liberal Publishing House and other independent publishers can enjoy their rights to freedom of expression and information.

Yours sincerely,

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