Vietnamese authorities on Monday arrested a Facebook user, charging him with “abusing freedom and democracy” for writing a series of online posts they said had defamed the country’s leaders, state media reported on Monday.
Vo Hoang Tho, 36 years old and a resident of the Ninh Kieu district of southern Vietnam’s Can Tho City, had published 47 posts on his Minh Long Facebook page criticizing government efforts to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19 in the one-party communist state, media sources said.
Containment efforts, including community lockdowns and other harsh restrictions, are widely unpopular in Vietnam, and Tho’s arrest was just the latest in a continuing crackdown on Facebook users who use the popular social media platform to voice dissenting views.
Can Tho City’s Investigation Agency said Tho had formerly worked as a journalist but did not identify the media organization for which he worked.
RFA has reported nearly 30 cases in which Vietnamese citizens have been arrested for political offenses over social media posts since the beginning of this year. Among those now serving sentences for Facebook posts are journalists, bloggers, and another citizen who had posted complaints about coronavirus policies.
On Sept. 10, Vietnamese authorities arrested and charged a woman with “carrying out activities to overthrow the government,” making her the third person apprehended this year for joining an exile Vietnamese organization called a terrorist group by Hanoi, according to state media reports.
Le Thi Kim Phi, 62, had used a Facebook profile under the name Phi Kim to connect with members of the Provisional Government of Vietnam, a U.S.-based opposition group, said the investigation division of southern An Gian province’s police department.
And on Sept. 8, authorities in Can Tho indicted five journalists from the Bao Sach (Clean Newspaper) Facebook-based news outlet for publishing reports and videos dealing with politically sensitive social issues.
Vietnam’s already low tolerance of dissent deteriorated sharply last year with a spate of arrests of independent journalists, publishers, and Facebook personalities as authorities continued to stifle critics in the run-up to the ruling Communist Party Congress in January. But arrests continue in 2021.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Anna Vu. Written in English by Richard Finney.