The 2019 North Korea–United States Hanoi Summit put Vietnam at the center of attention and was hailed as an "economic miracle." But, behind the gloss is repression suffered by its citizens.  One of them is Pham Doan Trang, a journalist and blogger, who suffers from harassment and was beaten by the authorities for exercising her basic right- freedom of speech.


These days, West Hanoi is booming,” crowed Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer on location of the Donald Trump-Kim Jong Un scripted reality show in Hanoi. The talking heads were quick to point out that Chairman Kim was remiss in not taking a tour of the shiny housing developments arising from the economic miracle of Vietnam’s industrial sector. The White House pointed to more good news, with nearly $13 billion in sales of U.S.-manufactured aircraft and engines to Viet Air and Bamboo Air.

Behind the Cinderella success story, however, was a back story: the actual reality of one-party Communist state repression. Political dissidents are routinely beaten by plainclothes police or hauled into court, tried for subversion and sentenced to long prison terms. True, Vietnam is not a gulag state on the order of North Korea, but it’s an Orwellian nightmare for human rights advocates all the same.

Other targets of the Vietnamese police include blogger Pham Doan Trang, a contributor to Luat khoa Tap chi, an online magazine that focuses on law and human rights. On August 15 of last year, fellow activists reported on their Facebook pages that Trang was taken to the police headquarters that night and beaten repeatedly.