Vietnam Human Rights Defenders’ Weekly June 15-21: Vietnam Unsanctioned Civil Societies Jointly Condemns Jailed Sentences Given to Members of Bia Son Council for Public Law and Public Trial

Defenders’ Weekly | Jun 21, 2015

Defenders-weekly

On June 17, 24 independent Vietnamese civil organizations in the country and abroad issued a joint statement to condemn the sentencing 25 members of the Hội đồng Công luật Công án Bia Sơn” (literally, “Bia Son Council for Public Law and Public Trial) with combined 305 years in jail and 110 years under house arrest.

Twenty two members of the group were charged of conducting attempts to overthrow the people’s government under Article 79 of the Criminal Code while the remaining three persons were accused of “illegally storing, utilizing and dealing in explosive materials.”

Former prisoner of conscience A Lu in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai was detained and brutally beaten by local authorities after visiting political dissidents in Hanoi and Haiphong.

Nguyen Viet Dung, founder and leader of the unregistered Republican Party of Vietnam, is reportedly to be severely beaten by Hanoi police during interrogation as he refused to cooperate with investigating police officers.

And other news.

**********15/6/2015*********

Freedom of Press in Vietnam Worsened

The freedom of press in Vietnam has been narrowed so many political dissidents have been imprisoned under Articles 79, 88 and 258 of the Criminal Code. The communist government has tightened control over press to prevent criticism.

As the result, Vietnam has been criticized by international community for its suppression on freedom of press and freedom of expression.

Recently, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said the social networks cannot be banned. He called on state officials to use social media to propagandize policies of the government and the communist party.

IJAVN: Tự do báo chí ở Việt Nam

*************16/6/2015***********

Vietnam Republican Party Leader Brutally Tortured by Hanoi Police

Nguyen Viet Dung, the founder and leader of the newly-established Republician Party of Vietnam, has been severely tortured by Hanoi security officers during interrogation, according to the local website Danlambao (Citizen Journalist.)

According to the independent online newswire, investigating officers of Hoan Kiem district beat Mr. Dung brutally when he refused to cooperate with them during the interrogation. Dung is held in the Hoan Kiem district police’s detention facility.

Mr. Dung, together with four other comrades, were arrested on April 12 after they participated in a peaceful demonstration of hundreds of Vietnamese activists protesting the massive chopping aged trees of the capital city in its main streets.

Four boys were released two days later while Mr. Dung was kept. The Hanoi city police accused him of conducting public disturbance under Article 245 of the country’s Criminal Code. If he is convicted, Mr. Dung may face imprisonment of between two and seven years.

During the environmental protest, the group of five boys weared military uniforms with the emblem of the army of the Vietnam Republic, the U.S.’s ally during the Vietnam War.

During interrogation, Mr. Dung expressed his sympathy with the Vietnam Republic which fell in 1975, espcially the naval battle against the chinese invasion of Hoang Sa (Paracels) in 1974, a source from Dung’s family said.

Protesting the arbitrary detention of Hoan Kiem district police, Mr. Dung affirmed that what he learned from Internet and other sources is different from the communist government’s propaganda, the source said.

Dung received a number of severe injuries, especially with ribbons by police torture and police sent him to the Hanoi-based Viet Duc Hospital for treatment, the source continued.

Mr. Dung was born in 1986 in the central province of Nghe An, the home province of late President Ho Chi Minh, the founder of the ruling communist party.

Graduated from the prestigious Hanoi University of Science and Technology, Dung returned to the home town.

In early of April, Dung declared to set up the Republician Party of Vietnam to fight for multi-party democracy and promote human rights in the Southeast Asian nation.

Im mid May, Mr. Chris Hayes, member of the Australian Parliament, called on the Australian Government to take action to demand Vietnam to release Mr. Dung.

In his letter dated May 13 sent to Foreign Minister Julia Bishop, Mr. Hayes said “the Australian Government which strong advocates for human rights, to take active interest in this matter and to call for the immediately release of Nguyen Viet Dung.”

Mr. Hayes, an Australian Labor Party politician said the Vietnamese community in New South Wale where he was elected to the Australian House of Representatives in 2005, and Australia at large, is very concerned about the safety and wellbeing of Mr. Dung, together with hundreds of other dissidents who are being imprisoned in Vietnam for simply exercising  the basic freedom of human rights.

Vietnam, as a member of the UN Human Rights Council, has a responsibility to promote and respect human rights, Mr. Hayes said. However, the Vietnam’s human rights record seems to be worsening, he noted.

Vietnam is one of the few countries still following communism. The ruling party has vowed to keep the nation under one-party regime, and ordered the security forces not to allow opposition to be being established.

The communist government in Hanoi has harassed, persecuted and imprisoned all government critics, criminalizing those who bravely speak out about corruption, economic mismanagement and weak response to the Chinese violations of the country’s sovereignty in the East Sea.

Along with using controversial Articles 79, 88 and 258 of the Penal Code, Vietnam’s communist government has also used criminal charges such as tax evasion and public disorders to silent local dissent.

According to international human rights bodies, Vietnam is imprisoning between 150 and 200 political dissidents, bloggers and human rights activists while Hanoi denies to hold prisoners of conscience but only law violators.

Meanwhile, torture is systemic in Vietnam. The lawyers have yet to be allowed to attend interrogation while the rights to remain silent is still in the draft law.

Danlambao: Nguyễn Viết Dũng bị CA đánh đập trong lúc giam giữ

=======================

Vietnam Prominent Blogger Conducts 22-day Hunger Strike to Protest Inhuman Treatment against Political Prisoners

Miss Ta Phong Tan, a prominent political prisoner and blogger, on June 4 ended a hunger strike after 22 consecutive days refusing to take food in Prison No. 5 in Vietnam’s central province of Thanh Hoa, said local activists.

Tan, who is serving her ten-year imprisonment for anti-state propaganda under Article 88 of Vietnam’s Criminal Code, resumed eating on early June, said her younger sister Ta Minh Tu, who was allowed to visit Tan on Sunday.

Miss Tan’s health conditions have been improved after she ended the hunger strike which started on May 13, Ms. Tu told a group of Hanoi-based activists who accompanied her to the prison.

Tan, who is former police officer, conducted the hunger strike to protest inhumane treatment of prison’s authorities. This was the third hunger strike of Tan during the past few years in prison.

Many activists and politicians have expressed their concerns about Miss Tan’s health due to the long-lasting hunger strike. Vietnamese have launched a number of online campaigns while foreign politicians and human rights bodies have conducted hearings on her case and urged Vietnam’s communist government to unconditionally release her.

Last week, Mr. Irwin Cotler, former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and incumbent member of the Canadian Parliament, adopted Miss Tan in a bid to pressure the communist government in Hanoi to free her.

Amnesty International said in an “Urgent Action” statement released Monday [June 8] that Tan suffers from arthritis, high blood pressure, and a stomach ailment, and is “weak and in poor health”.

She has long been subjected to abuse from fellow prisoners and prison authorities, including a recent confiscation of her hygiene products by prison guards, said Tan’s sister Tu.

Miss Tan was imprisoned for publishing several articles about human rights abuses and corruption among police and the judiciary on her Justice and Truth blog. Some press freedom activists have suggested to CPJ that Tan’s harsh treatment in prison is retribution for her critical reporting on police and judicial abuse.

Vietnam’s communist government has inhumanely treated prisoners of conscience in a bid to break their fighting spirit. Along with providing bad food, limited drinking water and lack of proper medical services, prisons’ authorities have often put political prisoners in solitary cells or use criminal inmates to beat them.

In response, many political prisoners, including human rights lawyers Le Quoc Quan, blogger Nguyen Van Hai (aka Dieu Cay- who is currently living in exile in the U.S.), and prominent legal doctor Cu Huy Ha Vu, have conducted hunger strike to protest prison’s inhumane behaviors against them.

Vietnam is holding between 150 and 200 prisoners of conscience, according to international human rights bodies. The communist government always denies, saying it imprisons only law violators.

IJAVN: Tạ Phong Tần tuyệt thực dài ngày do cán bộ tại giam ngược đãi tù chính trị

===================

24 Unsanctioned Vietnam Civil Societies and NGOs Condemn Imprisonment Sentences over 25 Members of Bia Son Council for Public Law and Public Trial.

In 2012, Vietnam’s communist government arrested and sentenced 25 members of the  Hội đồng Công luật Công án Bia Sơn” (literally, “Bia Son Council for Public Law and Public Trial) with combined 305 years in jail and 110 years under house arrest.

Twenty two members of the group were charged of conducting attempts to overthrow the people’s government under Article 79 of the Criminal Code while the remaining three persons were accused of “illegally storing, utilizing and dealing in explosive materials.”

The Phu Yen province’s People’s Court sentenced Mr. Phan Van Thu (alias Tran Cong), 68 years old, to life imprisonment when the court saw him the key person of the group. The 21 remaining members were given heavy sentences from 10 to 17 years imprisonment each.

In July 2014, the Vietnamese communist authorities arrested three more persons.  So by now they have thrown in jail 25 persons in this Bia Son case with a cumulative total of one life imprisonment plus 309 years of imprisonment to be followed by 110 years of probation.  Twenty-two persons in the group are charged with the crime of “plotting to overthrow the people’s government” in accordance with article 79 of the Penal Code, and three persons accused of “illegally storing, utilizing and dealing in explosive materials”!

On June 17 this year, 24 independent Vietnamese civil organizations in the country and abroad issued a joint statement to condemn the sentencing of the members of Bia Son Council for Public Law and Public Trial, saying the trials were unfair on which the communists used fake evident to imprison innocent people and seize their property.

The unsanctioned civil bodies demanded Hanoi to free all members of the group and return their property.

For more detail: http://www.vietnamhumanrightsdefenders.net/2015/06/17/statement-from-civil-societies-and-ngos-in-vietnam-and-abroad-re-the-trial-of-the-bia-son-group/

**************17/6/2015**************

Bac Giang Province-based Former Prisoner of Conscience Detained while Seeking for Justice

Mr. Dinh Van Nhuong, 57, a former prisoner of conscience in Vietnam’s northern province of Bac Giang, was detained on June 15 while he was waiting to fill his denunciation in the local government building to demand for justice.

About ten years ago, local authorities in Bac Giang illegally seized land of Mr. Nhuong family and other families. He peacefully protested and arrested in mid 2011, charged with “anti-state propaganda” allegation. He was sentenced to four years in jail and additional three years under house arrest.

Mr. Nhuong said he was treated like animal by prison’s authorities during the imprisonment. He was regularly tortured and forced to confess guilty. Due to the inhumane treatment, he confessed and was released on  May 7 this year, one month before the term ended.

Returned home in Dong Tam village, Tan Hiep commune in Yen The district, Mr. Nhuong wants to seek for justice. On Monday, he went to the province office where local authorities meet and accept denunciation from citizens. He registered to meet the chairman of the provincial People’s Committee to settle his case which he considers as legal miscarriage.

While waiting for his turn, policemen came to detain him to a local police station for questioning. Later, they transferred him to Yen The district police where he was under interrogation again. They accused him of breaking regulations for house arrest.

At 4.30 PM on the same day, Mr. Nhuong was allowed to go home, according to local dissident website Danlambao (Citizen Journalist.)

In Vietnam, all land belongs to the state and residents have only right to use. The government and local authorities are empowered to take land from residents for socio-economic development.

Thousands of Vietnamese have been expelled from their land which can be turned on property or industrial projects.

Thousands of Vietnamese land petitioners have been gathering in front of government buildings in Hanoi and other cities to demand for justice.

They have been subjects of harassment and persecution of police. Last week, Hanoi security forces arrested Vu Thi Hai, a land petitioner from the northern province of Ninh Binh without informing her family and friends.

Hanoi-based blogger Mai Dung said Vietnam’s police have arrested and jailed 70 land petitioners during the past three years.

Danlambao: Cựu tù nhân lương tâm Đinh Văn Nhượng bị bắt khi đi khiếu kiện

========================

Former Vietnamese Prisoner of Conscience in Central Highlands Arrested, Tortured

Family of former prisoner of conscience A Lu (Oi Hngem) in Vietnam’s Central Highlands province of Gia Lai informed that he was arrested and severely tortured by police in Phu Thien district on June 14, said Haiphong-based activist Nguyen Xuan Nghia, the writer awarded with Norwegian Authors Union Freedom of Expression Prize in March.

The reason for arrest is that Mr. A Lu, a member of an ethnic minority in Plei Rbai village, Iapia commune, recently travelled to Haiphong to meet Mr. Nghia and to Hanoi to see former political prisoners Nguyen Van Dai and Pham Van Troi, with whom he shared the same prison cell in the northern province of Ha Nam during 2007-2009 period, said the family.

Mr. Nghia, who completed his six-year imprisonment for “attempt to overthrow the communist government” under Article 88 of Vietnam’s Criminal Code in September last year, invited Mr. A Lu, 63, and his wife to visit his family. After that, A Lu went to meet Mr. Dai and Mr. Troi on advice of Nghia to seek financial aids for constructing his house.

Mr. Nghia said in his facebook account that he and A Lu spent long time together in the Ha Nam province-based Ba Sao Prison. A Lu was among thousands of ethnic minorities in the Central Highlands arrested since 2001 for protesting illegal seizure of their land by local authorities which are dominated by Kinh ethnic majority.

A Lu was charged under the Article 88 and Article 87- Undermining the unity policy and sentenced to seven years. Being released in 2011, he was put under three-year of house arrest.

His son was imprisoned for total 14 years, currently held in a prison in the northern province of Thai Nguyen.

Many imprisoned people from ethnic minorities in the Central Highlands told Mr. Nghia, that they had been brutally tortured by Vietnamese policemen, mostly from Kinh majority.

Ethnic minorities in Vietnam have been discriminated by the communist government, Mr. Nghia affirmed, adding that due to lack of public attention, many harassments and persecutions against them have not been recorded.

Mr. Nghia called on activists, foreign diplomats and international human rights bodies pay attention to A Lu and other prisoners of conscience from ethnic minorities in the Central Highlands and voice for their freedom.

Vietnam is a one-party ruled by communists for decades. The communists, vowing to keep the country under one-party regime, have harassed, intimidated and imprisoned many political dissidents and human rights activists.

According to international human rights, Vietnam holds between 150 and 200 prisoners of consciences. Hanoi always denies, saying it keeps only law violators.

Danlambao: Công an huyện Phú Thiện, tỉnh Gia Lai bắt giữ, đánh đập cựu TNLT A-Lư (Oi Hngem)

RFA: Một cựu tù chính trị người sắc tộc Jarai bị công an bắt giữ

*****************18/6/2015**************

State Agencies Refuse to Take Responsibilities, Victim Body Left on Street

One drug addict in District 8 in Ho Chi Minh City on June 17 jumped into a local canal and downed after being chased by policemen. When divers brought his body from the canal, policemen who chased him, and police in the ward where the body was found, refused to take responsibilities.

As a result, the victim body remained in street under rain.

SBTN: Chính quyền đùn đẩy trách nhiệm, xác chết phơi mưa trên vỉa hè

******************19/6/2015******************

Vietnamese Americans Attend Hearing on Vietnam’s Human Rights, Religious Freedom Violations before U.S. House of Representatives

A public hearing on religious suppressions and other human rights violations of Vietnam’s government is held  before the Human Rights Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington on June 17-19.

The hearing is under chairmanship of Representative Chris Smith of the Vietnam Caucus group, and participation of U.S. representatives and the chairman of the Human Rights Subcommittee.

Dr. Nguyen Dinh Thang, president of the Boat People SOS (BPSOS) said the hearing aims to promote the laborer’s rights of independent trade unions and religious right when Vietnam and the U.S. are negotiating over TPP.

The participants call on Vietnam’s communist government to free all prisoners of conscience.

Between 700 and 800 Vietnamese Americans from 28 U.S. states and seven countries attend the event to promote human rights situation in Vietnam.

RFA: Điều trần về nhân quyền, tôn giáo Việt Nam tại Hạ viện Hoa Kỳ

=====================

Saigon-based Redemptory’s Church Resumes Medical Checking for War Invalids of Vietnam Republic

On June 19, 15 war invalids who served for U.S.-backed Vietnam Republic came to the Saigon-based Redemptory’s Church for monthly medical checking.

Father Dinh Huu Thoai informed that after a short suspension, the Office of Justice and Peace of the church resumed medical checking for war invalids.

SBTN: Dòng Chúa Cứu Thế Sài Gòn tái khám sức khoẻ cho các TPB VNCH

****************20/6/2015**************

Vietnam Senior Legislator Proposes Less Power for Commune-Level Police

Ms. Le Thi Nga, vice chairwoman of the Legal Committee under Vietnam’s legislative body National Assembly (NA) has proposed not to giving more power to the police at the communal level in a bid to prevent power abuse.

During discussions at the ongoing sessions of the communist-controlled parliament last week, Ms. Nga asked the legislative body to suspend implementation of the current Ordinance on duties of Vietnamese police forces at the grass-root level.

According to the Ordinance on duties of communal police issued by the parliament, communal policemen have many power, including authorities in investigating criminal cases such as conducting interrogation, searching suspects, drawing scene file, detaining people and confiscating items.

During the past years, communal policemen in many localities have abused their power, committing a number of wrongdoings which affect human rights and civil rights, Ms. Nga argued.

Discussing the draft law on organization of criminal investigating agencies, Ms. Nga suggested removing the part which proposes to give power to communal policemen in investigation in the initial phase of criminal cases.

Communal policemen are not trained, and most of them have only graduated high school or lower level, so they are not capable of conducting investigation, she argued, adding their involvements in initial investigation may change the scene and make investigating more complicated.

The state media has reported numerous cases on which police in communes committed severe wrongdoings, including beating suspects to death or causing severe injuries to local residents, Ms. Nga noted.

In coming years, the Ministry of Public Security must enhance training for communal policemen, Ms. Nga said.

Currently, Vietnam has 10,000 police units at the communal level. Communal policemen, many of them have graduated only primary school, are equipped with rifle, automat, tear gas spray and electric batons.

When discussing the draft law on arrest and detention, many legislators said the Ministry of Justice should operate detention facilities and prisons to prevent torture and bad treatment. Currently, the Ministry of Public Security oversees the detention facilities and prisons.

Others said that detainees should not be fettered even they violate regulations of detention facilities since detainees are just suspects, still have civil rights since their guilty is yet to be determined by court.

Some legislators said that it would take huge financial spending on building 700 detention facilities and 700 prisons.

SBTN:  Học xong tiểu học đã có thể làm công an xã

======================

Reporter Filming On-duty Policemen Beaten

During evening of June 18, Tong Van Dat, a reporter of Tuoi Tre Thu Do newspaper, was brutally beaten by an individual with police uniform and plainclothes people when he tried to film policemen who were checking traffic in Ha Dong district, Hanoi.

Mr. Dat said when he was filming with camera, one policeman came to attack him. Another person also came and the two brought the reporter into a car and beat him.

A number of Vietnamese journalists have been attacked recently. On June 8, two journalists of Giao thong Van tai newspaper were beaten by mobs in Ho Chi Minh City.

Nguoiduatin: Phóng viên ghi hình Công an lập chốt kiểm tra giao thông bị đánh

***************21/6/2015*****************

Vietnamese American Participate in Campaign to Promote Human Rights in Vietnam

Vietnamese community in the U.S. has actively participated in a campaign to urge American legislators pressure on Vietnam’s communist government on human rights issues.

A Vietnamese delegation led by Mr. Pham Huu Quang closely work with Senator James Lankford on the issue, making human rights one of conditions for TPP negotiations between Vietnam and the U.S.

Many young Vietnamese Americans are participating in the campaign which aims to promote freedom and human rights in their home country.

RFA: Chia sẻ về chiến dịch vận động tự do tôn giáo và nhân quyền cho VN