Dong Thu Huong

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Date: 1947 - Present

Region: Asia

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Literature


Artist: Dong Thu Huong

Confronting Bodies: The Vietnamese communist government

Dates of Action: 1990

Location: Vietnam

Description of Artwork: Paradise of the Blind was published in 1988 and was a huge success. This novel touched on the problems with socialist Vietnam. Duong discusses the cruelty of the land reform campaign of the 1950s, and the personal misery of collectivization and of the workers who were sent to eastern bloc countries. She described the atmosphere as one of distrust and revealed the corruption of the ruling communist party.

The Incident: In 1986 the Communist Party of Vietnam started a program called doi moi, which was meant to take a look at the negative aspects of Vietnamese life and to revitalize and democratize society. In October 1987 Duong Thu Huong and other artists and writers met with the secretary general of the Vietnamese Communist Party and spoke of their dissatisfaction. Shortly afterwards Resolution # 5 was passed that encouraged writers to "carry out enquiring activities"--therefore guaranteeing freedom of expression. In the 1990s, however, the political climate changed and and the leadership grew intolerant of direct attacks on them. Guong Thu Huong was one of the first writers to fall victim to this change in attitude and in July of 1990 she was expelled from the communist party for indiscipline and arrested on fabricated charges of sending abroad state secrets (which was in fact merely the manuscript for her new novel "Novel Without a Name"). She was sent to prison for seven months, and only released after international pressure. Novel Without a Name provided a harsh description of the war and the disillusionment faced by Vietnamese soldiers.

Results of Incident: In 1994, Duong was permitted to travel to France to accept a medal for her writing. Her books are no longer on sale in Vietnam but her earlier works appear occasionally in anthologies and collections.

Source: Censorship: A World Encyclopedia