Sep 1 – Sep 7, 2014 Defender’s Weekly: Vietnam Women for Human Rights and Former Vietnamese Prisoners of Conscience Protest Imprisonments Imposed over Unjusticed Residents in Trinh Nguyen
Defend the Defenders | 8/9/2014
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On Sept 4, Tu Son district People’s Court in Bac Ninh province tried 12 residents in Trinh Nguyen villate in Chau Khe commune with accusation of causing “public disorder”. Six citizens were sentenced with total 13 years and ten months in jail and the remaining six with 64 months of probation.
Mrs. Ngo Thi Duc, one of Trinh Nguyen village resident publicly cut one her finger to protest the police’s demand asking her to admit public disorder accusation.
Activist Nguyen Van Vien was detained by security in Noi Bai International Airport when he arrived from Thailand. He was interrogated by security agents who later confiscated his passport without giving any proper reasons.
Vietnam Security Forces Detain Citizen and Confiscate His Passport without Any Eligible Reasons
At 8.30 am on Aug 28, social activist Nguyen Van Vien arrived in Hanoi International Airport from Thailand. Upon arrival, he was stopped by about 20 security agents who took his passport and requested him to follow them to “make clear some issues related to his passport.”
Mr. Vien said “I am a resident with full rights and I can go everywhere I want. I conducted any law violations and wrongdoings so I have nothing to tell you about my personnel issues. By detaining me without proper reasons, you are violating Vietnam’s law.”
Keeping Mr. Vien for a half day at a police station, security agentes released him at 6.30 pm but still took his passport despit Vien’s strong protest.
Former Communist Member Cuts One Finger Herself to Protest Police’s Accusation
Veteran communist member Ngo Thi Duc in Trinh Nguyen village in Tu Son district in Bac Ninh province on Aug 28 publicly cut one of her finger to protest local police’s pressure as police has demanded her to admit to conduct public disorder.
One year ago, residents in Trinh Nguyen village protested local authorities’ plan to take land of a number of families which have soldiers died during the Vietnam War for a waste water treatment project. These families dont want the project to be too close to their residental areas.
On Aug 31, Mrs. Duc informed the Radio for Free Asia (RFA):
“Local authorities have dismissed communist party’s membership for protesing residents. We lost everything, economically and politically. Now they summon us to court and ask us to confess wrongdoings. I said I have no fault, just want the waste water treatment facility to be far from our residental area. While policemen beat residents, elderly and children without being punished, we are said to be admitted for wrongdoing that we have not conducted. We are not stealers, just trying to keep our land for cultivation.”
Mrs. Do Thi Thiem is one of the most active figures protesting the waste water treatment project. She was attacked with acide by mobs. She is still under medical treatment but the attackers are not punished.
RFA: Cựu đảng viên tự chặt ngón tay phản đối công an
Lawyer Le Dinh Quan Completes His 22-month Jail Sentence
On Aug 30, Lawyer Le Dinh Quan, the youngest brother of prominent human rights activist lawyer Le Quoc Quan, completed his 22-month jail sentence.
The younger lawyer is a director of Vietnam Credit Co. He was arrested on Oct 30, 2012 and was charged with tax evasion in a case believed to aim to destroy Mr. Quan’s family.
Vietnam’s security forces suspected that Vietnam Credit Co. runs illegal website Quan Lam Bao, however, after the long investigation, they found any evidence.
Vietnam Credit nearly went bankruptcy after its director, chief accountant and accountant were arrested.
Mr. Quan said his family expects his older brother, lawyer Quan to be freed soon. His brother’s sentense dues in July next year.
Trial against Bui Thi Minh Hang Violates Vietnam’s Criminal Procedure Code: Lawyer Nam
The trial against social activist Bui Thi Minh Hang on Aug 26 seriously violated the country’s Criminal Procedure Code, said lawyer Tran Thu Nam, one of three lawyers protecting Mrs. Hang in the hearing held in the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap.
In the open hearing, relatives of Mrs. Hang and two other co-accused Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh and Nguyen Van Minh were not allowed to be in the courtroom while their lawyers are banned from taking their laptops during the trial, Mr. Nam said.
Immediately after the hearing started, lawyers of defendants asked the court to suspend due to absence of a number of witnesses but the court rejected the proposal, the lawyer noted.
During the trial, lawyers pointed out a number of fake evidences by the prosecution while the court rejected to make clear statements of defendants. The defending statements presented by the three lawyers of defendants were ignored, he added.
Regarding behaviors of the defendants, lawyer Nam said the trio was calm during the entire trial. Mrs. Hang sang a song about motherhood while she entered the courtroom.
The hearing against three activists was unfair, he concluded.
Catholic Fathers in Nghe An Province Condemn Local Authorities’s Imposing Administrative Fines for Third Child and Refusing to Grant Birth Certificate
On Aug 25, eight Catholic farthers in Nhan Hoa parish in Vinh diorse representing 18,000 followers in the parish to submit a petition to authorities in Nghi Loc district in Nghe An province to protest their administration fines set for families with three children and their refuse to give birth certificate for the third child.
The move was done after authorities in Nghi Loc district imposed administrative fines of VND1.5 million ($70) for couples having three children. The authorities refused to grant birth certificates for the third child if the couple fail to pay the fine.
These moves violate the UN International Convention on Children Rights that Vietnam is a signatory, said the fathers in their petition.
Vietnamese Activists Conducting “We want to know” Campaign
On mid of Sept 3, the Vietnam Blogger Network launched a campaign “We want to know.” Numerous people posted their picture with the banner “I want to know” demanding Vietnam’s government to allow them to get access to the country’s information on government policies in socio-economic issued and activities of senior leaders of the state and the ruling party. They said “We want to know” is the basic rights of citizens.
The campaign is based on basic rights of Vietnamese citizens, encouraging them to participate in activities of the country and community, said organizators, adding they firstly want the state to publicize two issues: the diplomatic note signed by then Prime Minister Pham Van Dong in 1958 regarding the country’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa, and the Chengdu secret meeting between senior leaders of Vietnam and China in September in 1990.
Amnesty International Highlights Imprisonments of Dieu Cay and Ta Phong Tan at Int’l Forum
At the Internet Governance Forum in Istanbul on Sept 2-5, the Amnesty International highlighted the imprisonments of two Vietnamese independent journalists Nguyen Van Hai (aka Dieu Cay) and Ta Phong Tan.
Two bloggers are serving 12 and 10 year prison sentences for their writing on the Internet. Mr. Hai and Mrs. Tan, author of the blog “Justice and Truth” were convicted in September 2012 under Article 88 of Viet Nam’s Penal Code for “conducting propaganda” against the state.
They wrote about a range of issues including human rights abuses, social injustice and national sovereignty. They are founding members of the independent Free Journalists Club, created in September 2007 to encourage freedom of expression in Viet Nam as an alternative to state controlled media. Through their writing and activism, they helped to inspire the new generation of citizen journalists, advocating for freedom of expression and demanding accountability and transparency from Viet Nam’s government.
Ta Phong Tan is a former policewoman. She was arrested in September 2011. While she was held in pre-trial detention her mother died after setting herself on fire in front of government offices of despair at the treatment of her daughter and her family who were being harassed by security forces. Ta Phong Tan was not allowed to attend her funeral ceremony.
Nguyen Van Hai is a journalist who was initially imprisoned in April 2008 on politically motivated charges of tax evasion. Instead of being released at the end of his sentence in October 2010, he was held for further investigation until the September 2012 trial.
Both are held in harsh conditions in separate prisons more than 1,500 km away from their homes, making family visits difficult. Amnesty International has adopted them as prisoners of conscience.
Amnesty International considers the detained bloggers and journalists to be prisoners of conscience, imprisoned for peacefully exercising their freedom of expression. Amnesty International has called for their immediate and unconditional release, and for the charges to be dropped against all of the accused.
Can Thi Theu, Victim of Unjustice, Sends Letter from Police Detention
Duong Noi-based victim of unjustice Can Thi Theu recently sent a letter from a police custody to her family and friends.
Theu, who is in police detention for objecting Hanoi’s authorities plan to seize land of Duong Noi village for urban projects, said in her letter that if she dies during detention, family and friends should bring her body to ask Hanoi to determine the cause. If Hanoi’s authorities refuse, then they can send petition to international human rights asking for help to justice, she wrote in the letter.
Recently, a number of Vietnamese people died during police detention and their deaths were not fully investigated.
Vietnam’s Government Strives to Prevent Meetings of Unlicensed Civil Societies
Many human rights activists were blocked from local policemen from attending a meeting of unsanctioned civil societies scheduled on Sept 5 in Justice and Peace Office of the Saigon-based Redemptorist Church.
However, the meeting was conducted at 8.00 am and finished at 11.00 am as scheduled, with participation of numerous people.
Buddhist monk Thich Thien Minh from Hoc Mon said that a group of dozens policemen were stationing around his house three-four days prior to the event.
Dr. Nguyen Dan Que reported that he was under police’s surveillance on Sept 3-4, a team of four policemen was stationed in front of his house, and followed him closely when he went out.
Mr. Pham Ba Hai, a former political prisoner, was monitored by policemen since Sept 1. They clearly demanded Hai not to go out on Sept 5.
Policemen and militia also blocked Mr. Huynh Trong Hieu and Ms. Huynh Phuong Ngoc.
Hoa Hao Buddhist officials said police in Southwestern provinces blocked the sect followers several days prior to the meeting.
Vietnamese Women for Human Rights and Former Vietnamese Prisoners of Conscience Condemn Unfair Sentence against 12 Land Petitioners from Trinh Nguyen
On Sept 4, the People Court in Tu Son district in Bac Ninh province opened a trial against 12 land petitioners of Trinh Nguyen village in Chau Khe commune on charge of “conducting public disorder.”
Since 2009, the authorities of Tu Son district have determined to take over land of Trinh Nguyen village for buiding a waste water treatment. The majority of people in this village are the revolutionary families, many of which have members died in front during the Vietnam War. For many years, they have made a petition to the local authorities asking them to relocate the waste water plant to Dong Kho zone to avoid environmental pollution caused by the plant.
However, the local authorities rejected their petition and suppressed petitioners. In 2013, they deployed large number of policemen and militia in the village threaten people, using thugs to beat up the most active residents, expelling some people from Communist Party, and sending policemen to each household to convince them to receive compensation. They went to local schools to threaten students from the village.
On June 18, 2013, Tu Son authorities deployed a large force including fully-equipped police, militia and plainclothed policemen in the project area. Meeting objection from local residents, they ruthlessly beat residents, including elderly, women and children. Many people were forced to be hospitalized for treatment serious injuries caused by police.
On July 4 in the same year, thugs attacked Do Thi Thiem, one of the activists, with acid. Before the attack, local authorities requested her to withdraw her complaint but she rejected.
In October last year, Tu Son district probed 12 Trinh Nguyen residents, accusing them of conducting social disorders harming the local authorities’s plan to build the waste water treatment facility.
Before being tried, the 12 residents were forced to sign confessions. Mrs. Ngo Thi Duc, a former member of the communist party, was two frustrated that she cut off her own finger to protest.
After being postponed several times for no reason, the trial took place on Sep 4, 2014with little public attention. Do Thi Thiem, Do Van Quy, and Do Van Hao were given 28-month jail sentences while Ngo Thi Toan, Dang Thi My and Ngo Thi Nhu were sentenced 26 months in prison. Others were given with probation sentences.
These people were sentenced and imprisoned just because they protested their land seizure for building a plant which will deteriorate their living environment. Their trial was unfair and they were falsely convicted.
Given the shameful violation of Human Rights, the Vietnamese Women for Human rights and the Former Vietnamese Prisoners of Conscience strongly opposed to the verdict aiming at repressing land petitioners.
The two unsanctioned organizations demanded Vietnam’s government to free 12 landless farmers unconditionally, and bring perpetrators who beat and attacked people with acid to court.
They also condemned the current land ownership which caused waves of complaints on land grabbing across the country. According to the 2013 Constitution, people have only rights to use land, not the right to possess.
EC Replies Open Letter of Former Vietnamese Prisoners of Conscience
On Sept 6, on behalf of European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, Viviane d’Udekem d’Acoz, head of the EC Secretariat-General, replied to the open letter of the Former Vietnamese Prisoners of Conscience (FVPoC) sent to Mr. Barroso on Aug 24 on the occasion of his visit to the communist nation.
In his letter, the head of the EC’s unit said that the message of the Vietnamese organization was transmitted to the responsible service, which is looking into the points the FVPoCraised and will respond rapidly on the president’s behalf.
Last month, the FVPoC sent a letter to EC President asking the EC to pressure on Hanoi to request the communist government to respect human rights.
Duong Noi Farmers Hold Meeting Demanding Human Rights in Front of Vietnam Television
On Sept 5, many farmers coming from Duong Noi village gathered in front of the Vietnam Television in the capital city of Hanoi to demand the state-run television to broadcast publicly land grabbing in their locality.
The Duong Noi village-based protestors said people have a rights to posses land without facing being seized by local authorities.
They cited Article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which saying everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others, and no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.
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HCM City Police Violently Supress Local Residents
Social activist Huynh Phuong Ngoc said she was among people suffering from violent acts of police in Tan Binh district in Ho Chi Minh City, who sought her house and detained her without reasonable causes.
Ms. Ngoc said on Sept 5, about 50 policemen and militia in Tan Binh district stormed her rented house and demanded for ID checking. After short arguing, policemen severely beat Huynh Trong Hieu and arrested all people, including a 8-month child in the house to police station.
Ms. Ngoc and Ms, Nguyen Thi Anh Ngan are members of the Vietnamese Women for Human Rights. Both were invited to take part in the Universal Periodic Review of Vietnam’s human rights organized in the Saigon-based Redemptorist Church on the morning of Sept 5.
Int’l Human Rights Bodies Demands Release of Le Quoc Quan
On Sept 5, a number of international human rights bodies jointly sent their second petition to the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention about a case of lawyer Le Quoc Quan, saying Vietnam’s government arbitrarily imprisons one of active dissidents.
On its resolution in August last year, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention stated that Mr. Quan was attacked due to his blog writings and human rights activities.
Although Mr. Quan is imprioned for tax evasion accusation, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said his jail is result of his peaceful activities granted by international human rights laws.
The stand of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on Mr. Quan’s case was ignored by Vietnam’s communist government.
Summary by Nguyen Ngoc Anh
Translation by Vu Quoc Ngu
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