Vietnam’s Message Rings Clear with the Arrest of Nguyen Chi Tuyen – We Will Arrest Whoever We Want, Whenever We Want

With the arrest of prominent blogger Nguyen Chi Tuyen this week, Vietnam has once again demonstrated its commitment to extinguishing the entire leadership of the independent human rights movement. After defending fundamental human rights in Vietnam for more than a decade—often lending his voice to western media and meetings with diplomats, police have finally arrested blogger Nguyen Chi Tuyen, better known by his penname Anh Chi.

Police arrested Tuyen at his home in Hanoi on Feb. 29. His wife, Nguyen Thi Anh Tuyet, reported to Project88 that about ten men, only two of whom were reportedly in uniforms, entered his home and took him away after confiscating documents and electronics. Tuyet confirmed that Tuyen was arrested under Article 117 of the Criminal Code for “making, storing or distributing information, documents and items aimed against the state of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,” though police did not present a warrant and only relayed the charges verbally.
Though he had largely been inactive recently, Tuyen was “invited” by the police for questioning several times in the past year; the last notice came one day before his sudden arrest. Chi had called the police station to tell them he was sick and could not come.
In 2015, Tuyen was assaulted and beaten unconscious by a handful of men widely believed to be plainclothes police. He has been placed under surveillance and banned him from leaving the country. Yet, despite his numerous encounters with the police over the years and the arrests of many of his contemporaries, Tuyen had yet to be arrested himself. Until now.
Tuyen founded one of Vietnam’s most prominent independent civil society groups—No-U, which protests China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, and has been involved in causes ranging from independent publishing to environmental protection to land grabs and police accountability (i.e. the Dong Tam police raid). One now-defunct YouTube channel had over 100K subscribers; on another, he provides commentary on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The timing of his arrest has baffled many and is the latest confirmation that no one is safe from Vietnam’s rolling crackdown on dissent. This latest crackdown is hallmarked by not only the persecution of anti-state dissidents, but also by the criminalization of policy activism and accompanying restrictions on civil society and foreign funding.

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