May 25, 2015
Vietnam Human Rights Defenders’ Weekly May 18-24, 2015: Under covered Policemen Brutally Attack Saigon-based Activist
Defenders’ Weekly | May 24, 2015
On May 19, Saigon-based activist Dinh Quang Tuyen was severely beaten by under covered policemen while he was conducting morning cycling near his private house.
Prior to the visit of UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon to Hanoi, many unsanctioned civil organizations sent their petitions to hi, urging him to pay attention to Vietnam’s human rights situation.
The Former Vietnamese Prisoners of Conscience has condemned violent attacks against Vietnamese activists in recent months.
Vietnamese domestic organizations and abroad jointly signed a petition demanding the communist government in Hanoi to release Tran Huynh Duy Thuc who is jailed with a 16-year imprisonment for criticizing the government.
And other news.
White House Wants Opposition Groups in Vietnam Support Hanoi’s Membership of TPP
The U.S. is willing Vietnamese political dissidents and opposition organizations in Vietnam to support the White House in helping the communist nation join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Tom Malinowski said he asked Vietnam’s government to stop arresting local dissidents and charge them with Articles 79, 88 and 258 of the country’s Criminal Code if Vietnam wants to become member of TPP.
Using these articles to silence government critics is serious violation of basis human rights, Mr. Malinowski told communist officials.
FVPoC Congratulates Mrs. Le Thi Phuong Anh’s Freedom
Mr. Pham Ba Hai, coordinator of the Former Vietnamese Prisoners of Conscience (FVPoC) has sent a small gift to Mrs. Le Thi Phuong Anh and congratulate her completion of her one-year imprisonment.
Mrs. Anh became the newest member of the FVPoC.
Being released on May 15, Mrs. Anh said she felt the warm welcome of many people. She said she will continue to fight for human rights and multi-party democracy.
Anh, together with Pham Minh Vu and Do Nam Trung was arrested on May 12 last year when the trio went to the southern province of Dong Nai to cover news on local anti-China protests with participation of tens of thousands of workers after Beijing illegally placed its HYSY-981 oil rig in Vietnam’s waters.
The three activists, member of the Brotherhood of Democracy, were charged under Article 258 of the Criminal Code.
For further reading: Two Vietnamese Political Dissidents Ill-Treated in Dong Nai-based Prison: Families (http://www.vietnamhumanrightsdefenders.net/2015/05/23/two-vietnamese-political-dissidents-ill-treated-in-dong-nai-based-prison-families/)
Former Vietnamese Political Prisoner Condemns Police Torture, Ill-treatment during Interrogation and Imprisonment (http://www.vietnamhumanrightsdefenders.net/2015/05/18/former-vietnamese-political-prisoner-condemns-police-torture-ill-treatment-interrogation-imprisonment/)
Under covered Policemen Brutally Attack Saigon-based Activist Dinh Quang Tuyen
On May 19, Saigon-based pro-democracy activist Dinh Quang Tuyen was severely beaten by two security officers when he was cycling near his private house in District 8.
The attackers broke his nose, with long-lasting bleeding.
Mr. Tuyen is the third victim of under covered policemen attacks in recent weeks. Earlier, Hanoi-based activists Nguyen Chi Tuyen Nguyen Anh Tuan were brutally assaulted with heavy consequences.
The attacks against Vietnamese human rights and democracy activists have triggered concerns domestically and abroad. Many organizations and individuals have demanded Hanoi to take specific measures to halt these assaults.
For further reading: One More Vietnamese Activist Beaten by Thugs After U.S. Urges Hanoi to Improve Human Rights Record (http://www.vietnamhumanrightsdefenders.net/2015/05/19/one-more-vietnamese-activist-beaten-by-thugs-after-hanoi-urged-to-improve-human-rights-record/)
Former Vietnamese Political Prisoner Condemns Police Torture, Ill-treatment during Interrogation and Imprisonment
Le Thi Phuong Anh, the Vietnamese political dissident who just completed her one-year imprisonment, said she had been tortured and very badly treated by police during interrogation as well as by prison’s authorities.
Mrs. Anh was arrested on May 12, 2014 when she and two other activists went to the southern province of Dong Nai to cover news on anti-China demonstration conducted by tens of thousands of local workers and residents to protest China’s illegal deployment of HYSY-981 oilrig in Vietnam’s waters in the East Sea.
Later, the trio was subsequently charged under Article 258 of the penal code for “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe on the interests of the state” and Mrs. Anh was sentenced in early February to 12 months in prison, which included her pre-trial detention.
During in the pre-trial detention, Anh said she was tortured and ill-treated by interrogating officers Hoang Thai Thi, Hoang Lien Son and Pham Minh Ha, and one plainclothes man named Nam.
“They were interrogating me for two months, from 7.00 PM to 8.00 AM with short noon break in B5 detention facility. They beat me and forced me to confess the acts I did not commit,” Mrs. Anh said in an interview to GNsP newswire.
When she refused to confess and sign to the statement prepared by police officers, the man named Nam beat her with his hand to her head. During the interrogation, they used brutal words to insult her, she said.
She conducted a 15-day hunger strike to protest the illegal arrest and torture.
The investigating officers forced her to sign in the confession statement prepared by them and promised to allow her to be visited by her mother and children so she agreed. However, after she signed, they forgot what they promised.
When her mother and two children traveled 2,000 kilometers from the central city of Hue to visit her in B5, police officers did not allow them to meet each other but kept her in distance.
She was placed in a small room with two others who tried to beat her. Due to bad conditions, she became ill with a number of diseases including heart stroke and stomach. When she asked for drugs, police said “You deserve to die so no need of drugs.”
The food in B5 was terrible, like for animal. Vegetables were dirty while meat is substandard that she couldn’t eat.
The foodstuff in the detention’s canteen is offered at very high prices, several times more expensive compared with those outside, she noted.
Anh said she overcame the fear and determined to be firm against ill-treatment and police abuse.
She said she will continue to fight for multi-party democracy and human rights as well as combat against state official corruption.
Mrs. Anh is a member of the pro-democracy Brotherhood for Democracy. Prior to her arrest, she and her husband, Le Anh Hung, had repeatedly sent letters to members of the National Assembly accusing Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai of operating a drug smuggling ring.
The couple say they have been subjected to repeated harassment at the hands of undercover police, including beatings.
U.S. Senate Insists Freedom of Religion Requirement in TPA
The U.S. Senate voted unanimously to add a religious freedom amendment to the Trade Promotion Authority legislation, which could be the first time that Congress asked presidents to take religious liberties into consideration when negotiating international trade agreements.
The Senate voted 92-0 Monday evening to approve the amendment to the TPA bill that was proposed by Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., which would make it an overall negotiating objective of the United States to “take into account” religious freedom violations before entering possible trade deals with other countries.
With Vietnam currently involved in the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations, it could quickly test how effective Lankford’s religious freedom oversight measure is when it comes to the United States’ handling of Vietnam’s recent religious freedom violations.
With Vietnam currently holding about 200 prisoners of conscious, Lankford says he is interested in how Vietnam is handled in these negotiations.
“I think it is important that we don’t for the sake of economic gain turn aside 200-plus people that are prisoners of conscious in Vietnam right now,” Lankford said. “That is not our value as Americans. Our values as Americans is that we value people and the dignity of each individual. While we have a growing economy, we are not just an economy as a nation, we are a set of ideas and values and that should be a part of any trade conversation that we have.”
Vietnam Lawmakers toward Revising Law on Social Insurance
Vietnam’s top legislative body National Assembly (NA) on May 21 had a discussion on the controversial changes in Article 60 of the 2014 Law on Social Insurance, with the majority of agreeing that Vietnamese workers should have more options in social insurance payment, including a lump-sum pension benefit if they prefer to.
Reporting to the NA, Minister of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs Pham Thi Hai Chuyen said that the one-time social insurance payment is suitable with the demand of many low-income workers who would be in serious need of money to cover their daily expenses if they lose or quit their jobs.
These workers are mostly from the rural areas and often don’t have any long-term commitment to their employers nor a saving plan for their future retirement, she noted.
Currently Article 60 regulates that workers are not allowed to receive a big one-time payment when leaving a job; instead they would be paid a monthly allowance at retirement age. Workers are thus required to contribute to the social insurance fund for 20 years to be eligible to a retirement pay when they reach the retirement age. If 20 years are not accumulated they will still receive the lump sum, but only after having reached the retirement age.
At the meeting, Ms. Chuyen proposed revising the law to allow workers who have stopped working for one year and are not paying enough social insurance to receive a one-time insurance benefit. These workers are also allowed to continue keeping their insurance payment in reserve as outlined in the 2006 Social Insurance Law.
The Vietnam Social Insurance Fund now serves nearly 65 million health insurance and 12 million social insurance cardholders, out of Vietnam’s 54-million people workforce.
According to the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs, between 2007 and 2014, 80% of people in the group eligible for a lump-sum payment, which mean they have not contributed to the fund for more than 15 years, decided to take the one-time benefit and only 20% decided to continue paying until their retirement age (for men 60, for women 55).
On average each year about 500,000 people got their lump-sum pension; this number rose to 605,783 in 2014 from 129,100 in 2007, the ministry added.
Lawmakers suggest the ministry raise the requirements to receive a one-time insurance payment in the near future so as to reduce the number of people having no pension or welfare when they retire.
The NA estimated the state budget allocated over VND3 trillion ($137.55 million) to supporting 1.5 million elders above 80-years-old without pensions in 2014.
In March, nearly 100,000 workers rallied in Ho Chi Minh City and other neighbor localities demanding the right to take the one-time benefit when they want. The striking workers agreed to resume their works only after the government promised to amend Article 60 of the Law on Social Insurance.
UN General Secretary Visits Vietnam on May 22-23
UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon visits Vietnam on May 22-23 in a bid to strengthen bilateral ties and help the communist government effectively use UN’s financial supports for development after 2015.
On this occasion, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Vietnam Commission for Human Rights urged the UN Chief to pressure Vietnam’s communist government to improve its human rights records and release all political prisoners.
FVPoC Condemns Violent Attacks against Human Rights Defenders
The Former Vietnamese Prisoners of Conscience (FVPoC) has issued a statement to condemn the recent brutal assaults targeting local human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists.
Given the rise of the numbers of the attacks and victims, The FVPoC called on democratic governments, international human rights bodies and politicians to voice Vietnamese dissidents and activists and demand Hanoi to stop using violence against local government critics as one of conditions for signing economic agreements.
FIDH Urges UN General Secretary to Promote Human Rights in Vietnam
The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), which represents hundreds of human rights bodies worldwide, has called on UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon to take specific measures to promote human rights in Vietnam when he visits the communist nation on May 22-23.
The UN’s chief should demand Hanoi to remove all articles with national security which aim to silence local government’s critics, release prisoners of conscience and stop harassment, violent attacks and other forms of persecution against local dissidents.
Hundreds of Haiphong-based Workers Strike to Protest Poor Working Conditions
Hundreds of workers of the Haiphong city-based Dinh Vang Co. Ltd went strike to protest poor working conditions.
Accordingly, the company forced its workers to work extra time without sufficient lighting.
The company’s representative admitted that the company does not allow lighting after 8 hours in a bid not to disturb workers in other units.
Representatives of FVPoC Pay Visits to Mr. Le Quang Liem, Dinh Quang Tuyen
On Ma y 23, representatives of the Former Vietnamese Prisoners of Conscience (FVPoC) paid visits to Mr. Le Quang Liem, head of the Central Steering Committee of Hoa Hao Buddhist and member of the Advisory Committee of the FVPoC and the Vietnam Inter-religion Council and Mr. Dinh Quang Tuyen, a Saigon-based activist.
Mr. Liem was in intensive care after falling in unconscious while Mr. Tuyen is in special treatment after being attacked by under covered policemen.
36 International Human Rights Bodies, Vietnamese Civil Organizations Issue Joint Statement to Call for Release of Prisoner of Conscience Tran Huynh Duy Thuc
On May 24, 20 international human rights bodies and 16 unsanctioned Vietnamese civil organizations jointly signed a statement calling for the immediate and unconditional release of political prisoner Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, who is sentenced to 16 years in jail six years ago for exercising the right of freeform of peaceful expression.
In 2009, Mr. Thuc, lawyer Le Cong Dinh, IT master Nguyen Tien Trung and Le Thang Long were arrested and charged with “attempt to overthrow the people’s government. The three were released while Mr. Thuc is still in prison.