Sept 16- Sept 21, 2014 Defender’s Weekly: HRW Reports Vietnam Police Brutality


Defend the Defenders | 22/9/2014

Defenders’ Weekly

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The Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report to describe Vietnam’s police abuse against detained and imprisoned people, which sometimes caused deaths in all regions in the country. In its report released in Bangkok on Sept 16, the HRW highlighted a number of cases involving police torture causing deaths or serious injuries  of detained suspects in the period between August, 2010 and July 2014.

The Saigon-based Lien Tri Pagoda under the unsanctioned Delegation of Vietnamese United Buddhists Church, was requested by local authorities to move out of its current location in An Khanh commune in District 2 in order to give land for building of Thu Thiem new urban area.

On Sept 18, a U.S.-Vietnam delegation consisting of representatives of many religions attended a meeting with religious and human rights officials of the U.S. Department of State on the current Vietnam’s government suppression against religions.

Nguyen Thi Ngan and Nguyen Thi Toan, two farmers whose land was illegally taken by Ha Dong district’s authorities in Hanoi were sentenced to six years in jail each for “conducting activities against state officials in duty.”



“Security agents still keeping eyes on me when I was imprisoned”

Writer and blogger Pham Viet Dao on Sept 13 completed his 15-month imprisonment for “abusing democratic rights to harm interests of State” according to Article 258 of the Criminal Code. He said he lost 10 kg during imprisonment and still felt depressed as he was given the sentence which he did not deserve. Administrative measure should impose on his case, he said.

He was under close surveillance and secretly followed him during his imprisonment, Mr. Dao said, adding that Vietnam’s security agency suspected that he worked for foreign media and should provide information about local prisons outside.

In his interview given to BBC after returning home, Mr. Dao said he confessed his “wrongdoings” and refused legal assistance in order to receive lighter and shorter sentence. But he affirmed that he did not commit crime nor political purpose, anti-state activities, just peacefully expressed his opinions as a citizen.

BBC: ‘Họ vẫn dò xét tôi khi ở trong tù’ 


Feeling Unjust iced after Completing Sentences

Two political prisoners writer Nguyen Xuan Nghia and writer-blogger Pham Viet Dao completed their sentences this week. Despite being arrested and jailed for their activities and writings, both writers said they did nothing wrong and their arrests and imprisonment did not change their opinions.

Mr. Nghia was jailed for six years while Mr. Dao spent 15 months in prison.

The first writer was jailed because he publicly expressed his opinions in his writings and activities as well as participation in the democratic organization called Bloc 8406, an political body demanding freedom of expression and freedom of religions for Vietnamese.

The second writer, founder of a blog specializing in culture, was arrested for “abusing democratic rights causing harm to interests of the State, rights and legal interest of citizen.”

After being released, Mr. Dao said of 91 articles posted on his blog which authorities used to accuse him, only three articles are written by him and the remaining he collected from other sources. His writings are his opinions regarding the country’s issues, including the opinion on the Constitution. Some of his opinions were in the amended Constitution, however, he was still found guilty and imprisoned, and it was unfair for him, he said.

RFA: Vẫn thấy bị oan dù đã ra tù


Hanoi Unexpectedly Holds Secret Trial against Two Duong Noi Farmers

Two Duong Noi farmers Nguyen Thi Ngan and Nguyen Thi Toan were jailed to six years each by Ha Dong district People’s Court for conducting activities against on-duty state officials. The hearing was conducted unexpectedly so their families were informed just one day earlier.

Many citizens in Duong Noi commune, who are continuing to petitionate against local authorities’ seizure of their land for a project which is delayed for years, want to attend the trial but they were

“Today they try innocent people but they do not allow people to attend in order to hide their wrongdoings. The families of the accused duo were informed just one day prior to the trial. We are sitting outside of the courtroom. We just ask for human rights, and freedom for seven innocent residents,” said one 75-year old among the group of farmers who do not agree to provide land for the project but to keep for their families.

Mr. Trinh Ba Phuong, a son of Mr. Trinh Ba Khiem and Mrs. Can Thi Theu who is detained since the force-based land seizure on April 25, said policemen did not allow Duong Noi residents to attend the trial. Numerous armed policemen and militia blocked routes leading to the courtroom, he noted.

RFA: Việt Nam bất ngờ xử kín 2 nông dân Dương Nội


Many Intellectuals Call for Release of Blogger AnhBaSam

A group of 51 people, many of which are intellectuals, have signed a petition demanding for immediate release of Mr. Nguyen Huu Vinh, a co-founder of blog AnhBaSam. Mr. Vinh is detained and charged of “abusing democratic rights to harm State interest and rights and interest of citizens” according to Article 258 of the Criminal Code.

Vinh and his assistant Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy, who is also detained, are patriotic who strongly protest China’s violations of Vietnam’s sovereignty in the East Sea.

The arrest and accusation against Mr. Vinh are serious violations of human rights enshrined in Vietnam’s Constitution as well as violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that Vietnam signed, said petitioners.

RFA: Nhiều trí thức kêu gọi trả tự do cho blogger Anh Basàm


HRW Condemns Vietnam’s Police Brutality Which Causes Dozens of Deaths Nationwide

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report to describe Vietnam’s police abuse against detained and imprisoned people, which sometimes caused deaths in all regions in the country. In its report released in Bangkok on Sept 16, the HRW highlighted a number of cases involving police torture causing deaths or serious injuries  of detained suspects in the period between August, 2010 and July 2014.

According to the HRW, police abuse was reported in 44 provinces and five largest cities out of 63 provinces and cities.

The report said that the police’s explanations of the deaths of detained suspects in police custody make people feel that there is systemic covering of police wrongdoings in the communist nation. Police admitted that all died people in custody had no health and mental problem before being detained.

The HRW urged Vietnam’s government to immediately adopt a zero-tolerance policy for abuse by police, provide better training for police at all levels, particularly commune police, and install cameras in interrogation and detention facilities.

RFI: Việt Nam : HRW tố cáo nạn bạo hành trong tù 

BBC: HRW phê phán công an VN ‘bạo hành’


HRW Asks Vietnam to Reform Police Forces

The Human Rights Watch has warned Vietnam’s police power abuse, saying there are many reports about police’s torture which causes deaths for residents, especially in rural areas.

Two years ago, Mr. Nguyen Tuan Thanh and his friend Pham Quoc Nhat were arrested by police in Dong Thap province on suspicion of property stealing. The duo was beaten severely in police station. Thanh died on the next day before being hospitalized by police.

Mr. Thanh’s case is one of dozens of cases highlighted by the HRW in its report on Vietnam’s police brutality on which Vietnamese citizens were severely beaten to death during detention.

The 96-page report named 28 Vietnamese citizens who died while were being detained in police stations, of those, 14 deaths were caused by police violence as authorities admitted, four from unexplained causes, six were allegedly suicides and four allegedly from illness during detention, according to the HRW’s statistics during the period.

In addition, 11 other Vietnamese citizens, including 11-year old boy reported that they were severely beaten by policemen in the past four years, the HRW said.

VOA: HRW yêu cầu Việt Nam cải tổ ngành công an

VOA: Human Rights Watch Presses for Police Reform in Vietnam 


Religious Clerks Object to HCM City’s Plan to Demolish Lien Tri Pagoda

The Saigon-based Lien Tri Pagoda under the unsanctioned Delegation of Vietnamese United Buddhists Church, was requested by local authorities to move out of its current location in An Khanh commune in District 2 in order to give land for building of Thu Thiem new urban area.

A group of religious clerks from five largest religions in Vietnam, including Buddhist, Christian, Protestant, Cao Dai Buddhist, Hoa Hao Buddist in late August issued a joint statement on Lien Tri Pagoda.

According to the statement, local authorities has sent a letter to Chief monk Thich Khong Thanh of the pagoda, offering a compensation for removing the pagoda out of the current location which is slated in September.

The statement said that in order to clear land for the 930-hectare Thu Thiem new urban area, HCM City seized land from 15,000 households as well as a number of religious facilities. However, the land clearance is not transparent and illegal, leading to 11,000 denunciations of local residents.

RFA: Hội đồng Liên tôn phản đối việc giải tỏa cơ sở tôn giáo ở Thủ Thiêm

VRNs: Sau 30 giờ: Gần 600 người ký tên đòi tự do tôn giáo cho đô thị mới Thủ Thiêm 

RFI: Chùa Liên Trì có nguy cơ bị xóa sổ


HRW Rejects Vietnam’s Protest on Its Police Brutality

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has rejected the Vietnamese protest against its recent report on the power abuse of Vietnam’s police forces.

On Sept 16, the HRW released its first 96-page report titled “Public Insecurity: Deaths in Custody and Police Brutality in Vietnam” released on Sept 16, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) highlights cases of police brutality that resulted in deaths and serious injuries of people in custody between August 2010 and July 2014. Accordingly, police torture incurred in 44 provinces and five largest cities out of 63 provinces and cities in the communist nation.

In its report, the HRW warned increasing police power abuse in Vietnam since the communist government has weak legal system and lack of strict measures to deal with wrongdoings of police forces which are the main tool to maintain the one-party regime.

Immediately, Vietnam’s government rejected the HRW’s report, saying the report is bias. In a statement posted to the Foreign Ministry website on Sept 18, Spokeswoman Tran Thi Bich Van says Vietnam has a “firm commitment” against all forms of torture or cruel treatments.  She adds that those who engage in abuse will be strictly punished in accordance with Vietnamese laws.

The HRW report was based on Vietnam’s state-run media sources, said HRW Asia Deputy Director Phill Robertson.

“This is not something that the government of Vietnam can deny. And the fact that the problem is so systematic and pervasive indicates that Vietnam government has been doing very little to tackle the issue. … What we’ve found proves that their commitment is weak or non-existent,” he said.

VOA: HRW bác phản đối của VN về phúc trình công an bạo hành 


Reviewing Land Reform in Vietnam in 1953-1956

BBC and invited guests held a discussion on Vietnam Land Reform in 1953-1956, the controversial event on the history of the country and its ruling communist party.

Speakers of the live discussion on Sept 18 were writer Tran Manh Hao from Saigon, writer Vu Thu Hien from Paris, Mrs. Le Hien Duc from Hanoi, Mr. Nguyen Minh Can from Moscow and Mr. Nguyen Quang Thach from Thai Binh.

The topics discussed were the two opinions in Vietnam’s social networks on the occasion of the exhibition on land reform held shortly in the Hanoi-based National Historic Museum before being closed due to “technical problem.”

Speakers also gave their opinions on the situation during the land reform sixty years ago, China’s influence, implementation and the role of Vietnamese leaders in the event, including setting up working teams to conduct land reforms in many localities.

BBC: Nhìn lại ‘Cải cách Ruộng Đất’ ở Việt Nam


Serious religious suppression in Vietnam

On Sept 18, a Vietnam-U.S. delegation consisting of representatives from different religions attended a meeting with officials on charges of religions and human rights of the U.S. State Department to present Vietnam’s religious suppression.

The delegates discussed the press release of UN’s Special Reporters on religions and beliefs issued on July 13 which showed a serious religious suppression in the communist nation.

Vietnam’s government forces religions to register and get authorities’ approval while bans unlicensed ones, said Dr. Nguyen Dinh Thang, president of the Boat People SOS (BPSOS), who is also the spokesman of the Union for Vietnam’s Freedom and Democracy. Vietnam’s current policy is to control religions, he added.

Vietnamese delegates highlighted Vietnam’s methods which aim to suppress freedom of religions including seizing properties of unlicensed religious communities, torturing religious clerks, and forcing followers to  deny their beliefs.

DTD: Phái đoàn đa tôn giáo: đàn áp trầm trọng ở Việt Nam


Duong Noi Farmers Jailed for Protesting Illegal Land Seizure

Mrs. Can Thi Theu, one of the most active farmers in Duong Noi in protecting own lands, her husband Trinh Ba Khiem and other farmer namely Le Van Thanh on Sept 19 were tried on charges of “conducting activities against on-duty state officials by the People’s Court in Ha Dong district in the capital city of Hanoi. Theu was sentenced to 15 months in jail, Mr. Khiem- 18 months and Mr. Thanh- 12 months in prison.

The Friday’s trial was the 7th against Duong Noi farmers who have tried to protect their land and refused to hand over their land to a project which was delayed for years. Four days earlier, Ha Dong People Court also imprisoned Mrs. Nguyen Thi Ngan and Mrs. Nguyen Thi Toan to six years in jail on the same charge.

Similar to many other open trial in Vietnam, the hearing of the trio was limited for public. Only one daughter of Mr. Khiem and Mrs. Theu and another relative were allowed to be in the courtroom

Since March this year, Hanoi’s authorities arrested seven Duong Noi farmers who objected the illegal land seizure. Tran Van Sang and Tran Van Mien were the first to be arrested on accusation of conducting activities against on-duty state officials who came to revoke people from their land. The duo is expected to be brought to a court slated on Sept 23.

RFA: Người dân Dương Nội giữ đất tiếp tục bị tuyên án tù 

RFI: Việt Nam : Ba dân oan Dương Nội bị xử nặng 


Vietnam Top Diplomat to Visit U.S. in Early Oct

Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister cum Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh will visit the U.S. in early October, the Voice of America Radio reported.

He is scheduled to hold talks with State Secretary John Kerry to build specific measures to deepen the two countries’ comprehensive partnership established in 2013 during the visit of President Truong Tan Sang to the White House.

Minh’s trip to Washington will be made five months after the invitation of Mr. Kerry. In May, the two top diplomats held a telephone conversation to discuss bilateral ties amid rising tensions in the East Sea when China unilaterally deployed $1 billion HYSY-981 platform in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone.

Last week, Mr. Minh visited China where he attended the China-ASEAN Export (CAEXPO 2014) and the 11th China-ASEAN Business & Investment Summit (CABIS) held in Nanning in China’s Guangxi province.

Vietnam has sought to deepen bilateral ties with other countries, including India, Japan and the U.S. to deal with China’s aggressive moves in the East Sea.

Along with tightening economic ties with the U.S., Hanoi has urged Washington to remove lethal weapon ban imposed over the communist nation since 1985.

Currently, the U.S. is among leading economic partners for Vietnam, and bilateral trade is predicted to hit $33.6 billion this year, with Vietnam maintaining a trade surplus of $22.7 billion.

VOA: Phó Thủ tướng, Bộ trưởng Ngoại giao VN Phạm Bình Minh sắp thăm Hoa Kỳ

Summary: Nguyen Ngoc Anh

Translator: Vu Quoc Ngu