Bui Thanh Hieu, who uses the blog name of Nguoi Buon Gio (Wind Trader), has announced in a moving Facebook post: “I beg your understanding for having to say farewell to you for a long time. Farewell, my friends.”
He explains in the post that he has decided to stop blogging because the Vietnamese authorities have been harassing his relatives still in Vietnam, including his 86-year-old mother who is currently hospitalized.
“Many people took advantage of my mother, [using her] to force me to comply with their wishes, they want to turn me into a pawn under their control,” Hieu writes. “This situation just happened in the last few days.”
“It is absolutely despicable that the Vietnamese security apparatus is exploiting the poor health of individuals in order to silence a dissident living abroad,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk.
“The authorities are displaying appalling creativity in their attempts to gag those who try to provide their fellow citizens with alternative information to the Vietnamese Communist Party’s propaganda. We urge foreign diplomats based in Hanoi, above all the German embassy, to closely monitor the harassment of Bui Thanh Hieu’s family.”
In December 2018, RSF published the findings of its investigation into the methods used by Vietnam to get Facebook to block the posts of exile bloggers such as Hieu on the grounds of
violations of its “community standards.” Two other Vietnamese bloggers living in Germany, Trung Khoa Le and Nguyen Van Dai, were the among the targets of this systematic censorship.
Long near the bottom of RSF's World Press Freedom Index, Vietnam is ranked 176th out of 180 countries in the 2019 Index.