No doubt I am not the first nor the last journalist expelled from Vietnam. Mr. Hung The Pham, a reporter of Radio France International was expelled on December 25,1999. Mr. Arnaud Dubus from the French Journal Liberation met the same fate in Vietnam, and Mr. Tucker Carlson of the press corps accompanying Senator John McCain was detained at the moment he was ready to fly back to America.
As for me, I have learned much more about the state of liberty and the violation of liberty by the Hanoi regime from my own misadventure than through numerous reports I had read previously.
In the hands of the State Security, every individual is a non-person. He has no rights. All along my detention- from Wednesday April 12 at 4.0PM in front of Dr. Que’s home until Friday April 14 at 2.30PM, the date of my expulsion from Vietnam- I was denied the right to call the French Embassy. I was interrogated day and night by the State Security with elaborate techniques, alternating lies and threats.
Men and women, in uniform or in civilian clothes, took turn to apply intense psychological tortures. Some agents promised clemency if I follow their “advises”, while other bluntly accused me of criminal offenses, pretending that they had evidences I had spent a night outside my hotel, which was not true. They behaved like bullies. Another agent threatened to plant a bag of narcotics in my handbag, and said “you know what will happen to you”. He made a gesture to show that I will be shot.
My short experience with the State Security is nothing compared to what political and religious prisoners endured in the hands of the Hanoi regime that continues to deny the existence of political and religious prisoners. Political prisoners are subjected to brutality, torture, and solitary confinement in dark rooms. The State Department estimates that there are two hundreds political prisoners still incarcerated in reeducation camp. Even those released are victims of other forms of detention like Dr. Nguyen Dan Que. I have witnessed that Dr. Que’s residence is under intense surveillance. He is denied all freedom of communication and travel.
The State Security has paradoxically done me an inestimable service. My detention at the State Security headquarter was of great value to my own information and raised my consciousness. I have met new contacts and heard testimonies that I did not know previously. For all that, I am very grateful.
In the strongest spirit of solidarity, I want to express my homage to all, inside and outside Vietnam, who are fighting for human and civil rights.