‘100 policemen around my house’: Vietnamese dissident blogger tells of forced deportation
A dissident from Vietnam who said he was arrested at his home in Ho Chi Minh City and deported to France said he is determined to continue his pro-democracy blogging.
Pham Minh Hoang, a 61-year-old maths lecturer, recounted his arrest and deportation a few hours after his arrival in France. He said three police officers burst into his house on Friday and grabbed his arms when he refused to follow them while wearing only shorts, an undershirt and slippers.
“Once outside, I was horrified to see that there were not three, but 100 policemen in uniform and in plainclothes around my house and in the neighbouring streets,” said Hoang, who was a dual French-Vietnamese national before he was stripped of his Vietnamese citizenship last month.
After being detained in front of his wife, Hoang said he was driven to a detention centre two hours away, where he was kept for 24 hours and was visited by the Consul General of France. He said Vietnamese authorities forced him on a plane to Paris on Saturday night.
Hoang’s deportation came two weeks after he learned a presidential decree had revoked his Vietnamese citizenship.
The French foreign ministry confirmed that its Consul General assisted Hoang in Ho Chi Minh City. As a French citizen, he can settle in the country and enjoy freedom of speech, the ministry said.
The human rights activist and blogger was sentenced to three years in prison in 2011 for attempted subversion by posting articles on his blog criticising the Communist government and for being a member of the California-based Vietnam Reform Party, or Viet Tan. The government considers Viet Tan a terrorist organisation.
“The vaguely worded decision was a thinly veiled move to silence Pham Minh Hoang for his peaceful advocacy,” Viet Tan said in a statement about the stripping of Vietnamese citizenship from Hoang.
Before being deported from his country, Hoang said he was questioned at length by two officials whom he thinks were members of the political police. When he refused to consent to his deportation, he said officials reminded him that his wife and daughter were still living in Vietnam. Two policemen slept in the room where he was held, he said.
He hopes he’ll be able to stay in regular contact with his wife and his 13-year-old daughter.
“I will continue to help my daughter do her homework, using internet video or other secure means,” he said.
Hoang assumes he will have to remain in France for a long time and said he is determined to continue his political activism as an exile.
“I still have a little hope, one day, to come back to live and die in Vietnam,” he said.