Huynh Thuc Vy Released Three Months Before Her Sentence Is Completed

Huynh Thuc Vy Released Three Months Before Her Sentence Is Completed
Graphic: The Vietnamese Magazine.

Notable events:

  • Prisoner of Conscience Huynh Thuc Vy Released in Early June
  • Hanoi and Beijing to Strengthen Cooperation in Propaganda Effort
  • A YouTube User Fined for ‘False Report’ on Thich Minh Tue’s Sensational Pilgrimage
  • Journalist Truong Huy San, Author of Renowned Postwar Book, Reportedly Detained

Prisoner of Conscience Huynh Thuc Vy Released in Early June

Huynh Thuc Vy, a human rights activist and dissident blogger who served 33 months imprisonment for the alleged crime of “insulting the national flag,” was released on June 1, she said in an interview with Radio Free Asia (RFA) on June 4. Her release came three months before she was to be released in September.

Before she was arrested, Vy, 39, who lived in Buon Ho District, Dak Lak Province, had actively advocated and written about human rights, political pluralism, and democracy. In 2018, a court in Buon Ho District sentenced her after she allegedly sprayed paint on the national flag and posted a photo of the defaced flag on social media.

Vy later received a suspended sentence because she was pregnant when she was sentenced, and her first child was under 36 months of age. As stipulated in Vietnamese law, a woman with a child can delay serving her prison sentence until the child reaches the age of 36 months. On Nov. 30, 2021, however, the Dak Lak Provincial Court issued an arrest order for the mother of two, although one of her children was still below the age limit. During her imprisonment at Gia Trung Prison in Gia Lai Province, Vy recounted the harsh living conditions there, as she was subjected to psychological torment and physical abuse at the hands of other female inmates. 

Upon her release, Vy told RFA that the most joyful moment in her life was when she reunited with her children again after two and a half years in prison. She added that she now wants to spend time with her children and will decline any interview requests with other media agencies.

Hanoi and Beijing to Strengthen Cooperation in Propaganda Effort

On June 4, the Vietnamese Communist Party news portal reported that leaders of the Vietnamese Central Propaganda Department held a working session with a delegation of Qiushi Magazine (Seeking Truth), the leading official theoretical journal and news magazine of the Chinese Communist Party. The purpose of the meeting was to strengthen cooperation and information exchanges in propaganda efforts between the two party states.

According to the report, Vu Thanh Mai, deputy head of the Central Propaganda Department, and Ly Van Cac, deputy editor-in-chief of Qiushi Magazine, discussed potential cooperation in core propaganda projects such as promoting the role of the press in propagating the party’s resolutions, forging digital transformation in press agencies, and the exchange of information regarding practical issues about socialism and the path to socialism in Vietnam.

The above-mentioned ideological objective was stated in a theoretical book titled “Some Theoretical and Practical Issues about Socialism and the Path to Socialism in Vietnam,” published in 2023 by General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong. In his book, Trong argued that “moving towards socialism is the aspiration of the Vietnamese people, the righteous choice of President Ho Chi Minh and the Vietnamese Communist Party of Vietnam, in accordance with the on-the-ground reality in Vietnam and general historical developments.”

In addition to their commitment to fine-tuning their propaganda machines, the Vietnamese and Chinese delegates pledged to “continue to propagate the achievements in socio-economic development, culture, education, science and technology, and the like, of each country” and to “strengthen the friendship and mutual understanding between the peoples of the two countries.”

At the same time, these propaganda departments announced they would “work closely to control information in cyberspace” and “fight and prevent malicious information that affects and damages the good relationship between the two parties, the two states and the two peoples.”

YouTube User Fined for ‘False Report’ on Monk Thich Minh Tue’s Pilgrimage

The Thua Thien-Hue Provincial Cybersecurity and High-Tech Crime Prevention Bureau on June 3 issued a fine of 7.5 million dong ($295) for Nguyen Van Ty, a YouTuber living in Dau Tieng District, Binh Duong Province, for allegedly disseminating a “false report” on the pilgrimage of Thich Minh Tue, a Buddhist monk who has attracted a great deal of attention on social media due to his humble and ascetic walking journey across the country as he does not ask for money donation and only gets one meal donated to him every day. Ty was fined under Section 1 of Decree 15/2020, which regulates the circulation of information on telecommunications services.

Many Vietnamese social media users believe Thich Minh Tue's solitary pilgrimage, whose birth name is Le Anh Tu, has sharply contrasted with the luxurious and sybaritic lifestyles of many Buddhist monks affiliated with the state-controlled Vietnamese Buddhist Sangha (VBS). Minh Tue declared himself a simple devotee of the Buddha’s teachings, not belonging to recognized religious organizations like the VBS. The VBS is a member of the Vietnamese Fatherland Front, a state organization that oversees all socio-political groups.

The police bureau alleged that Ty, the owner of the YouTube channel “15s Binh Duong,” had posted videos with false information about the security and order situation in Thua Thien-Hue, which Thich Minh Tue and his adherents passed through, according to state media. State media reported that the Binh Duong YouTube creator also used sensational headlines and descriptions of Thich Minh Tue to “sow confusion and curiosity among the people,” resulting in “large gatherings of people and obstruction of traffic.”

At the same time, Thich Minh Tue’s pilgrimage has reflected the current situation of religious freedom in Vietnam, where all religions are under heavy state surveillance and influence. Those who declare themselves as independent religious adherents are subjected to harassment, intimidation, and even jail terms.

On June 3, the Committee for Religious Affairs announced that Minh Tue had “voluntarily” ceased his spiritual journey after the authorities met and talked with him about “the rights of obligations of citizens.” Many observers believe the government pressured the monk to stop his journey since he was an influential figure who could mobilize many religious followers.

Journalist Truong Huy San, Author of Renowned Postwar Book, Reportedly Detained

Truong Huy San, more popularly known by his pen name Huy Duc, was reportedly detained on June 1, according to sources familiar with the matter. The detention of Huy Duc, a veteran journalist and author of a comprehensive, ingenious book on the aftermath of postwar Vietnam, “Bên thắng cuộc” (The Winning Side). His book, comprising two volumes, provided original reporting on the behind-the-scenes decision-making process of the North Vietnamese leadership following its takeover of South Vietnam in 1975.

As of June 5, state media and news portals of the Ministry of Public Security have not published any confirmation regarding Truong Huy San's detention. His social media account has not been accessible since June 4. News regarding his detention is only shared on social media. Meanwhile, an unnamed friend of Huy Duc told BBC News Vietnamese on June 4 that the police also searched both of his houses in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Besides the publication of his renowned book, Huy Duc is an influential figure on social media who regularly writes about corruption and works to promote good governance in Vietnam. Currently, it remains unclear whether or not Huy Duc was criminally prosecuted or he was only detained for questioning about his online postings. Vietnam’s law stipulates that the criminal detention of a person must not exceed three days after the investigation agency is assigned to conduct a probe into the detained person.

Vietnam Insight: Learn more about Vietnam

Cambodia and Vietnam: When a Canal Should Not Divide

Fulcrum/ Nguyen Ba Son/ June 5

“In light of the ongoing bilateral differences regarding the Funan Techo Canal project, the two countries should continue to work together in a transparent manner, paying due respect to each other’s legitimate interests and looking for solutions based on collaboration and mutual understanding. This will help maintain good neighbourliness and stability in their bilateral relations, thereby ensuring that the proposed project will not create unnecessary division between the two nations.”

In the Hot Seat: To Lam’s Rise to the Vietnamese Presidency

The Diplomat/ Ian Hollinger/ May 27

“This promotion may not be the boon it seems, however. [To] Lam’s position as minister of public security has been an ideal perch from which to target his rivals while avoiding getting singed by the “blazing furnace” anti-corruption campaign. Whereas getting caught on video being fed gold-encrusted steak by celebrity chef Salt Bae might be a career-ending scandal for a less secure official, in To Lam’s case, the only people to face legal repercussions were those who mocked his extravagance. The presidency, by contrast, is a largely ceremonial position lacking significant powers that To Lam could use to build influence and defend his position.  As president, To Lam’s influence will be dependent on the power wielded by people within his larger patronage network, and especially the network of supporters he has built up in the Ministry of Public Security (MPS).”

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