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WiPC alarmed by dissident writer's arrest; widespread government crackdown on dissidents feared



(WiPC/IFEX) - WiPC is greatly alarmed by the arrest and detention of
geologist and dissident writer Nguyen Thanh Giang, reportedly for
possessing
documents critical of the government. According to news reports, Giang
was
arrested in Hanoi on 4 March 1999. Communist Party sources have been
quoted
as saying that he is likely to be sentenced to a prison term, although
no
formal charges against him have been made public. Amnesty International
reports that Giang may face charges under the Vietnamese Criminal Code
for
"Crimes Against National Security", which provides long prison terms for
peaceful political dissent. His whereabouts remain unknown and there is
concern for his safety.





**Updates IFEX alerts of 16 March, 12 March and 11 March 1999**

According to Amnesty International, Giang, aged sixty-three, is a
well-known
and highly respected geologist and writer who has been publicly critical
of
the Communist Party of Vietnam for at least ten years. He has written
numerous articles, mainly published abroad, advocating democracy, human
rights and peaceful political reform. As a result he has suffered
repeated
harassment by the authorities in recent years. In 1995, he was
reportedly
forced to resign from senior positions at the Geographical Society of
Vietnam, the National Institute of Geophysics and the University of
Hanoi.
In 1997, he was reportedly frequently summoned for questioning by the
police, and in March 1998 he was reportedly arrested and detained for
three
days whilst trying to raise funds for a humanitarian project in southern
Vietnam.

International PEN is further deeply concerned about reports of an
imminent
government crackdown on leading dissident writers in Vietnam. According
to
their information, senior authorities in the Vietnamese Communist Party
have
issued an order for the arrest of dozens of dissidents in Vietnam, whose
writings alleging government corruption and calling for democracy in
Vietnam
have been widely circulated in the domestic underground press and
overseas.
Included in this blacklist are writer Hoang Tien and journalist Vu Huy
Cuong.

Recommended Action


Send appeals to the president:
  • expressing concern about the arrest of writer Giang, and urging that
    his
    whereabouts and details of any charges against him be made public
  • urging that Giang be released immediately and unconditionally if he
    is
    detained solely for the expression of his peaceful political beliefs,
    and
    seeking assurances that whilst in detention he be allowed full access to
    lawyers, medical treatment and family members
  • reminding the government of Vietnam of its obligation to uphold
    Article 19
    of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which it
    is
    a signatory




    Appeals To



    President Tran Duc Luong
    Socialist Republic of Vietnam
    c/o Ministry of Foreign Affairs
    Hanoi, Vietnam.
    Fax: +84 4 823 1872







    Please copy appeals to the source if possible.



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