A Vietnamese blogger detained over anti-government posts has warned his family that “something bad” will have happened to him if they do not hear from him within the next 15 days.
Disrupted communication: Phan Kim Khanh, who is serving a six-year prison term, delivered the chilling message in a phone call on Saturday. That call was abruptly cut off after his warning.
- “He [Khanh] told my mother that if he did not call again within the next 15 days, something bad will have happened to him,” his sister Phan Tri Trang told RFA. “And when my mother asked him what the problem was, the call was cut off right away.”
- Khanh was sentenced in October 2017 for allegedly conducting propaganda against the state under Article 88 of Vietnam’s 1999 Penal Code. He has since been detained at the Nam Ha Detention Center in Ha Nam province.
- Prior to his arrest in March 2017, Khanh founded and ran news websites that tackled political issues in Vietnam. He was also a member of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI), an American-sponsored program that develops leadership skills among Southeast Asian youth and strengthens ties between the U.S. and the region.
- Last year, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) called Khanh’s imprisonment a violation of international law. Groups such as Human Rights Watch and Freedom Now have also condemned his jailing.
How his family reacted: Khanh’s warning has since left his family worried over his condition. Trang said authorities no longer allow their mother to speak to him.
- “Our family feels very worried and uneasy, and we are counting the days to Nov. 15 to see whether my brother is okay or not. Now we don’t know what to do,” Trang told RFA.
- The family had not heard of anything particularly concerning prior to Khanh’s Oct. 30 call. Before dropping his warning, Khanh asked about the life of each of his immediate relatives and their health status.
- Khanh’s mother, Do Thi Lap, voiced support for her son’s blogging in the aftermath of his arrest, according to RFA. She also criticized Vietnamese law, which the Paris-based Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR) described as being “routinely invoked to detain government critics and human rights defenders.”
- “If I could see Khanh now, I would tell him that his father and I have always supported what he’s done,” Lap said at the time. “I believe that he acted as he did because he is a patriot.”
Featured Image via Phan Kim Khanh