The chairwoman of the Orange County Human Relations Commission on Tuesday condemned recent death threats against a Vietnamese-language newspaper publisher and other prominent Vietnamese-Americans.
"We feel that even the threat of violence is to be deplored, particularly when it is also a threat to the First Amendment right to free expression," said Jean Forbath. "Since the target of this threat is the editor of a very important paper, we feel this is doubly deplorable."
The death threat was mailed earlier this month from Santa Ana to at least 20 newspapers and community groups in Little Saigon and San Jose. It warned that editor Yen Ngoc Do and two associates at the Nguoi Viet Daily News, a prominent San Jose attorney and several other Vietnamese individuals would be executed on April 30, the 15th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, unless they ceased unspecified pro-communist activities.
Do, an avowed anti-communist who has received repeated threats, said he did not know what prompted the latest letter.
Attorney Liem Huu Nguyen said the threat was his third since last August, when he publicly advocated normalization of relations between the United States and Vietnam. In an interview last week, Nugyen called the threats "a kind of unofficial censorship stronger than any kind of government censorship that I know."
Forbath's remarks were prompted by a letter from Dr. Jack Kent, a Huntington Beach physician and co-founder of the U.S. Committee for Scientific Cooperation with Vietnam, who has been urging the commission to take a stand on the issue.