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Internet writer released, but allegedly forced into exile

(WiPC/IFEX) - WiPC welcomes the release on 11 July 2008 of Bui Kim Thành, internet writer, dissident and lawyer, after five months in psychiatric detention, apparently without any medical basis. However, the WiPC is deeply concerned that Bui Kim Thành's release was apparently conditional on her going into exile, and continues to call for her unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Vietnam is a signatory.

Bui Kim Thành, aged forty-nine, is a human rights lawyer, internet writer and member of the banned Democratic Party of Vietnam. She was taken to the Bien Hoa Mental Hospital by police on 6 March, after they broke into her house in Ho Chi Minh City. She was released on 11 July, and left Vietnam for the United States on 21 July under extreme pressure from the authorities.

This was not the first time that Bui Kim Thành has been held in a psychiatric hospital by the Vietnamese authorities. She was previously detained on 2 November 2006 and held for eight months at the Bien Hoa Psychiatric Hospital, despite being assessed by two psychiatrists who concluded that she was not suffering from mental illness. She is said to have been forcibly injected with unknown medication during her incarceration. She is believed to have been targeted for her critical online writings and dissident activities. She is known for her reporting on issues of social injustice and human rights violations in Vietnam, and particularly for her defence of destitute women farmers made homeless by illegal land expropriation. (For more information on Bui Kim Thành's previous detention, see )

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