Vietnamese noodle seller arrested for impersonating 'table salt'

Vietnamese noodle seller arrested for impersonating ‘table salt’

Youtube screenshot

NOS . News

  • Mustafa Margadi

    Southeast Asia reporter

  • Mustafa Margadi

    Southeast Asia reporter

It was just a joke. But the Vietnamese police saw it completely differently. Boy Tuan Lam, a 38-year-old activist and noodle seller, is now behind bars. He posted a video online in which he dropped green onions from his hands and let them slide over his forearm, before they fell into the noodle soup.

Poe criticized the Minister of Public Security of Vietnam. In November last year, while on a business visit, he dined at the very expensive Nusr-et in London. It is operated by the so-called owner of salt The Turkish internet star who finished steaks dunked gold leaf by sprinkling salt on his forearm.

The minister faced criticism from Vietnamese activists. Steaks in this restaurant cost more than someone’s monthly salary in the Vietnamese treasury. Pictures of the minister eating golden steaks were posted on social media with critical comments such as: “Vietnam is still poor, but the minister is so grandiose that he can enjoy this kind of extravagance.”

But Pui Tuan Lam’s video seems to have gone too far for the Vietnamese government. “Onion paper‘, as he calls himself in the video, was arrested for violating Article 117 of the Vietnamese Penal Code, according to police. It describes the prohibition of “creating, preserving and distributing anti-Socialist Republic of Vietnam material”.

For Human Rights Watch, this is an example of how poorly the one-party system in Vietnam handles criticism. “Vietnamese authorities regularly define any comment they don’t like as ‘propaganda against the state.’ This makes the government of Vietnam one of the most sensitive in the world when it comes to public criticism.”

According to various human rights groups, there are currently between 150 and 300 political prisoners in Vietnam. If convicted under Section 117 for joking, Bui Tuan Lam could face 5 to 20 years in prison.

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