Today, on November 21, 2019, The Socialist Republic of Vietnam proves once again to be one of the most authoritarian regimes in the world.

The authorities just added one more person to the hundred-long list of news providers and free speech activists arrested for exercising their rights, which are consecrated in the article 25 of the 2013* Constitution of Vietnam.

Now 53 years old, Pham Chi Dung was arrested for “making, storing, distributing or disseminating information, documents and articles to oppose the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” according to a statement made by the Vietnamese police on its website. Moreover, it states that “recently, Pham Chi Dung has engaged in public activity that seriously violates law, is dangerous, adversely affects social stability and negatively affects security and order”.

“Unfortunately, this arrest and the charges brought against Pham Chi Dung do not come as a surprise, as the Vietnamese Communist Party has recently been tightening its grip on the civil society and particularly on Human Rights defenders and dissent voices”, said Watchdogs Unleashed.

“While we’ll continue to denounce publicly the ongoing repression of free speech in Vietnam, we also think it is vital to find new strategies to advocate for Human Rights in Vietnam. Targeting Vietnamese government’s business and financial interests might be an effective way to remind it its obligations to respect freedom of information and freedom of expression. We think the international community should consider such strategy as well. Pham Chi Dung’s arrest should trigger economic sanctions against Vietnam”, the organization added.

Pham Chi Dung, a former soldier and military academy student who worked for the Department of Internal Affairs and Security in Ho Chi Minh City, received a doctorate in economics before quitting the Vietnamese Communist Party on December 5, 2013, as he believed it no longer represented and served the interest of the majority of the people.

In July 2014, he established the Independent Journalist Association of Vietnam (IJAVN). His organization advocates for press freedom in Vietnam, with the wider aim of building a more democratic and socially progressive nation. However, it was considered illegal by the government since then.

Pham Chi Dung’s arrest comes amid an ongoing clampdown on activists in Vietnam, a single-party communist state. On November 11, a court in Ho Chi Minh City found three pro-democratic activists, including a 70-year-old Australian, Chau Van Kham, guilty of “terrorist activities against the state”.

Watchdogs Unleashed is calling for the Vietnamese government to stop violating its citizens’ fundamental rights, to free Pham Chi Dung and all activists that are contributing to freedom of information in Vietnam.

* Article 25 of the Constitution of Vietnam: “The citizen shall enjoy the right to freedom of opinion and speech, freedom of the press, of access to information, to assemble, form associations and hold demonstrations. The practice of these rights shall be provided by the law.”

Photo: Radio Free Asia