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Hoang, 62, who lives in Ho Chi Minh City, could be deported at any time following a decree by Vietnam’s president depriving him of his Vietnamese citizenship on May 17.
“I don’t know what my status is today,” Hoang said in an interview for RSF, his voice choked with emotion. Speaking in the low-income neighborhood where he lives, he said he was still shocked by the president’s decision to strip him of his Vietnamese nationality, a measure that he and his lawyer describe as “completely illegal.”
“I cannot go out without being conspicuously followed by police officers,” he said, explaining that he lives in a state of permanent fear of being bundled onto a plane bound for France.
RSF editor in chief Virginie Dangles said: “It is both unacceptable and illegal to strip one’s citizens of their nationality with the sole aim of silencing them. The French authorities must not permit such an expulsion, which is nothing other than a way for the Vietnamese authorities to silence a critic.”
“I want at all costs to live and die in Vietnam,” Hoang told RSF, adding that he wanted not only to stay with his family but also to continue serving his fellow citizens. He blogs under the pseudonym of Phan Kien Quoc.
Hoang said he felt extremely isolated although he has the support of many international human rights groups. “In Vietnam, the party-controlled media don’t talk about my case,” he said. “Activist friends try to alert social networks but very few people know what is happening to me. I no longer see anyone.”
This is not the first time that Hoang, a member of the pro-democracy party Viet Tan, has been subjected to psychological and judicial harassment.
His blog posts about education, the environment and the threats to Vietnamese sovereignty from China led to his being sentenced to 17 months in prison and three years of house arrest in 2011 – a sentence that was reduced thanks to support from human rights defenders and the French government. He and his family were subjected to intimidation attempts again in 2014.
Vietnam has one of the worst scores of any country in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index, in which it is ranked 175 out of 180.