Isle groups push to free activist
A Honolulu man is part of a group arrested in VietnamSTORY SUMMARY »
The daughter of a Honolulu man being held in Vietnam for preparing pro-democracy leaflets and Vietnamese organizations in the United States are trying to apply pressure to win his release.
Leon Truong, 53, was arrested on Nov. 17, along with six other activists, at a home in Ho Chi Minh City.
Truong's daughter, Lauren Truong, will travel to Washington, D.C., in December to join a rally in hopes of bringing attention to her father's plight.
Meanwhile, local Vietnamese say they support what Truong was doing as a member of the pro-democracy group Viet Tan and are trying to get members of Congress to protest Truong's arrest.
"He was (going) home with the spirit of human rights and democracy," said Thomas Bui, vice president of the Vietnamese Community of Hawaii.
The Associated Press reported he was arrested by authorities who said they were investigating terrorism.
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Lauren Truong hopes that her father will be freed from arrest in Vietnam as a pro-democracy activist so he can spend Christmas in Honolulu with her.
Leon Truong, an American citizen and Honolulu resident, was arrested in Vietnam on Nov. 17 along with five other activists for Vietnamese democracy, including another American, a French citizen, two Vietnamese citizens and a Thai citizen, according to the pro-democracy group Viet Tan.
Truong and four others were arrested while stuffing envelopes with pro-democracy fliers in a Ho Chi Minh City home, according to a Vietnamese newspaper. Nguyen Thi Thanh Van, a mathematician and resident of Sacramento, Calif., was arrested at the same time.
State media said the government has opened a terrorism case against them.
Duy Hoang, a spokesman for California-based Viet Tan, said the group seeks change through "peaceful nonviolent means" and is pushing to modernize Vietnam through democracy. He added that Truong was helping to prepare 7,000 copies of a leaflet when he was arrested.
"He was (going) home with the spirit of human rights and democracy," said Thomas Bui, vice president of the Vietnamese Community of Hawaii. Bui said the group will ask members of Congress to apply pressure to release Truong or bring him to trial.
"We are concerned for his safety because they are well known for beating up people during their interrogation," Bui said. "They have many ways of harming people, physical abuse or mental abuse."
Said Lauren Truong, 28, of Hawaii Kai, "I'm really proud of him. What he did, in my eyes, he's a hero. All I want right now is for him to come home."
She added, "My first concern is his health. It may cause a stroke due to the interrogation by the government."
Truong, a business student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, returned from San Francisco earlier this year to spend time with her father. She is communicating daily with the American Citizen Services Section of the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam.
"So far, there's no contact with him. There's no visitation rights with the activists," she said, adding that she will go to Vietnam if authorities allow her to visit him.
Truong has been trying to gather support from the members of Hawaii's congressional delegation, and some have responded, while Vietnamese locally are also showing support.
U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie sent a letter, also signed by Reps. Loretta Sanchez and Zoe Lofgren of California, to the State Department asking for an investigation and the return of the two Americans.
Leon Truong came to Honolulu on Oct. 24, 1979, the same day his daughter was born. He joined Viet Tan in 1980.
Truong left Hawaii Nov. 2 to visit his family, his daughter said.
The communist party rules Vietnam's government and forbids other parties. Since 2006 the Vietnamese government has arrested about 40 people and sentenced at least 20 to prison, several under anti-government propaganda laws, according to the New York-based Human Rights Watch.
On Dec. 10, Lauren Truong will go to Washington, D.C., to join a rally pressuring Vietnam to free the activists. A petition to free the Americans can be found at www.freethemnow.net.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.