Police harassed representatives of Vietnamese bloggers at the airport upon their return from Thailand - Dân Làm Báo

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Police harassed representatives of Vietnamese bloggers at the airport upon their return from Thailand

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CTV Danlambao - At 8:15 pm on August 05, 2013, security agents harassed and briefly detained two young bloggers Nguyen Nu Phuong Dung and Nguyen Thao Chi at Tan Son Nhat international airport upon their return from Thailand. These are two young representatives of the Network of Vietnamese Bloggers those who, in a historical event on July 31, joined three other bloggers to meet UN officials at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Bangkok to discuss human rights issues in Vietnam and submit the Statement 258 from the Network of Vietnamese Bloggers.

After completing immigration procedures and baggage claim, the bloggers unexpectedly faced with harassment from security agents, who demanded a search of their luggage. Reportedly, plainclothes security agents instructed customs officials in uniform on the incident.

After a search without finding anything illegal, security agents separated the bloggers for questioning, citing additional search is needed on “suspicious luggage.” Service to the bloggers’ cell phones was also cut off.

Meanwhile, outside the airport, a large group of bloggers in Saigon was waiting to give the returning bloggers a hero’s welcome. At the same time, information about their harassment has been constantly updated on social networking sites, especially on Facebook.

The incident has captured a lot of public attention, and the continuous updates of the situation on social networks discouraged the involved security agents. 

After about 30 minutes of harassing and searching, security agents at the airport were forced to let the bloggers to exit the airport. When Nguyen Nu Phuong Dung and Nguyen Thao Chi appeared, their friends joyfully greeted them with the welcome home banner, whose content reads, “Welcome home, representatives of the Network of Vietnamese Bloggers” along with the logo for the campaign against article 258 of the penal code.

A large security force surrounded the bloggers when they stretched out the banner. However, with the presence of passengers at the international airport, security agents only kept monitoring and filming the bloggers.

Nguyen Nu Phuong Dung (Facebooker Miu Manh Me) and Nguyen Thao Chi (Facebooker Sapphira) are both 22 years old and currently students in Saigon. These two young girls and three other bloggers represented for more than 100 bloggers in Vietnam travelled to Bangkok, Thailand, to participate in activities calling for the State of Vietnam to amend its law in order to become a credible candidate for the UN Human Rights Council election.

Nguyen Thao Chi and Nguyen Nu Phuong Dung 
with Shawn Crispin - Senior Southeast Asia Representative of CPJ

In their busy week in Bangkok, the bloggers, Nguyen Thao Chi, Nguyen Nu Phuong Dung, Nguyen Lan Thang, Nguyen Anh Tuan, and Pham Doan Trang had met officials of a number of international organizations to submit the Statement 258. Among them are the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Human Rights Watch (HRW), Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA), etc.

Blogger Nguyen Lan Thang, Nguyen Anh Tuan, Pham Doan Trang, 
Nguyen Nu Phuong Dung and Nguyen Thao Chi at the UN's OHCHR office in Bangkok.

It’s interesting that police harassed the two bloggers on Monday, the fifth day of August; so, the incident date could be viewed as the number 258, which has been surfacing constantly on various social networks with many different forms of protest against it.

Translated by Như Ngọc

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