A well-known Vietnamese blogger based in Germany has announced he will stop writing due to government pressure on family members back home in Vietnam, press freedoms watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said in a press release on Monday.
Bui Thanh Hieu, who writes under the name Nguoi Buon Gio, said his hospitalized 86-year-old mother was recently made a particular target for harassment, he said, writing in a farewell message to his followers on his Facebook page.
“Many people took advantage of my mother, [using her] to force me to comply with their wishes,” Bui said, asking his readers’ forgiveness for having to end his blog.
“They want to turn me into a pawn under their control,” Bui said.
In a statement, Daniel Bastard—head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific Desk—slammed Vietnam’s harassment of Bui’s mother in an attempt to silence her son.
“It is absolutely despicable that the Vietnamese security apparatus is exploiting the poor health of individuals in order to silence a dissident living abroad,” Bastard said.
Vietnamese authorities have displayed “appalling cruelty” in their attempt to shut down Bui’s dissenting views and “alternative information to the Vietnamese Communist Party’s propaganda,” he added.
“We urge foreign diplomats based in Hanoi, above all the German embassy, to closely monitor the harassment of Bui Thanh Hieu’s family,” he said.
Ranked near the bottom of RSF’s World Press Freedom Index for 2019, Vietnam is listed 176 out of 180 countries on which the press freedoms group reports.
Dissent is not tolerated in the communist nation, and authorities routinely use a set of vague provisions in the penal code to detain dozens of writers and bloggers.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Huynh Le. Written in English by Richard Finney.