Vietnam Human Rights Defenders’ Weekly September 7-13: U.S. Senator Sends Letter to Vietnam Prisoner of Conscience
Defenders’ Weekly | Sep 13, 2015
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On September 9, U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy sent a letter to land rights activist Bui Thi Minh Hang, who is serving her three-year imprisonment on the trumped-up charge of causing public disorders, which is seen as reprisal against her activities which aimed to promote human rights and democracy in Vietnam. He expressed his deep concerns about her current situation and said many U.S. legislators are working for her unconditional release.
Police in Gia Rai are chasing a former prisoner of conscience belonging to a local ethnic minority group, forcing him and his wife to live in forest for days.
Police in Lam Dong harass and threaten Tran Minh Nhat, a local political prisoner who completed his four-year imprisonment on August 27.
Hanoi-based resident beaten by local police in a land grabbing case.
And other important news.
Vietnam Ministry of Information and Communication Illegally Revokes Press Card of Senior Journalist
Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) in early September revoked press card of senior journalist Do Van Hung from Thanh Nien newspaper for a “violating” status on his Facebook account.
Do Van Hung received the punishment one day after the state-run Thanh Nien newspaper dismissed him from the post of the editorial office’s deputy general secretary.
Legal experts said the ministry’s decision is illegal, going against regulations of the ministry since Mr. Hung was removed from his post but was neither charged with any criminal accusation nor did he face other administrative measures.
Police in Lam Dong Harass, Threaten Newly-released Political Prisoner Tran Minh Nhat
Police in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong have continued their harassment and threaten against Tran Minh Nhat, who recently completed his four-year imprisonment on August 27 but still under three years of house arrest.
On the morning of September 7, police summoned Mr. Nhat to the police station of Da Don commune in Lam Ha district where he resides to work on the three-year probation. At the station, police threatened him, saying he must obey the regulations otherwise he will face serious troubles.
Since late August, local police established a control point to monitor people who visit Nhat. They have blocked activists and not allowed them to visit him.
One day after Nhat’s release, Lam Ha police brutally attacked activists coming to see him. Six visitors, including two females, were severely beaten by plainclothes agents when they were leaving Nhat’s private house.
On September 1, a delegation of Catholic priests from Saigon came to visit him but was barred from meeting the young activist.
International Petition for Catholic Priest’s Freedom Launched
On September 7, Committee for Promotion of Religious Freedom, an organization of Vietnamese Americans, launched an online petition for the unconditional release of Catholic priest Nguyen Van Ly, who is under imprisonment in Vietnam for years.
The petition states:
Please sign petition for Father Thaddeus Nguyen Van Ly, a prisoner of conscience. Father Ly has been sentenced 4 times to over 53 years of imprisonment. He was in hard labor and solitary confinement of over 23 years, under house arrest for over 15 years. Currently, he is paralyzed and still held in solitary confinement at Ba Sao, Tân Sơn, Kim Bảng, Hà Nam, Việt Nam.
Please support Father Ly who is representative for millions of Vietnamese people by calling for the international organizations to recognize his fights for human rights and religious freedom through four international awards 2015: Nobel, Sakharov, Rafto, and Unesco.
Priest Ly, one of the co-founders of the pro-democracy Block 8406, was sentenced to eight years in prison and five years under house arrest in 2007.
The London-based Amnesty International has called for his release.
You can sign the petition here: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/father-nguyen-van-ly
Former Prisoner of Conscience in Gia Lai Chased by Local Police, Hiding in Forest for Weeks
Police in Vietnam’s Central Highlands of Gia Lai have been chasing a couple from the Jarai ethnic group, forcing them to hide in a forest for about two weeks.
Mr. A Lu or Oi Hngen, 64, from Pley Rbai village, Iapiar commune, Phu Thien district and his wife are scattering in the forest in border areas between Vietnam and Cambodia, said former political prisoner Nguyen Xuan Nghia from Haiphong, who has contacted the husband in recent days.
Mr. Lu, a follower of the Protestant sect of Degar, is a former prisoner of conscience. In 2004, he was arrested after taking part in protests demanding for freedom of religions and land rights. He was sentenced to 7 years in prison but released after 6 years in 2010. His son, who was also convicted of conducting activities “undermining the unity policy,” is serving a ten-year sentence in Thai Nguyen province.
After being released five years ago, he is under close monitoring and brutal harassing of local authorities.
On June 14, Lu was detained after visiting some activists, including former political prisoners Nguyen Van Dai in Hanoi and Mr. Nghia in Haiphong to ask for financial support (You can obtain information on the detention here: www.vietnamhumanrightsdefenders.net/2015/06/17/former-vietnamese-prisoner-of-conscience-in-central-highlands-arrested-tortured/).
He was released after one month but placed under surveillance. He and his wife were regularly summoned by communal police to their office for interrogation.
Local authorities demanded Lu to stay indoor and barred him from going to forest field to grow crop although he is the key laborer of his family.
On August 28, he went to his field to help his wife and the police came to arrest him. In order to avoid being detained, he and his wife ran into the forest where they met some others who were also trying to run away from the country. The group decided to go to Cambodia to seek political asylum, and headed to the border with Cambodia.
Their group was chased by Vietnamese authorities who shot to death the guide and others. A Lu and his wife ran away but they got lost in the forest.
The couple cannot go further because they have no money. They don’t want to go back to their village, fearing of being tortured.
He is seeking help from other activists as well as foreign embassies.
The latest information from his village was that police came to his house and took away all clothes of the couple in a bid to prevent someone from helping the couple.
Meanwhile, numerous people from ethnic groups have been fleeing to Cambodia from the Vietnamese Central Highlands, according to foreign media. Few of them have been granted asylum status and most of them have been deported by Cambodia’s authorities.
Ethnic minorities in Vietnam have been subjects of local authorities’ suppression. They have been protesting to demand for freedom of religion and rights for land as the Kinh majority have been grabbing their land since the communists took over the southern part of the country to unify the nation in 1975.
Many people from ethnic minorities have been held in prison, said former prisoners of conscience Le Quoc Quan and Nghia.
Thân Văn Trường: NGƯỜI TIN LÀNH Ở TÂY NGUYÊN BỎ ĐI
Vinh Long Diocese Demands Return of Church School
The presbyterate and Catholic followers of the Vinh Long Diocese have sent a petition to the authorities of Vietnam’s southern province of Vinh Long to demand for the return of the diocese’s Main School.
The Vinh Long Main School was the training facility of priests for Can Tho, My Tho and Vinh Long, but the communist government has taken it since 1977.
The local authorities have used the school for different purposes, including shopping and sports despite strong protest from priests and followers.
One Catholic Follower in Ha Tinh Still Held in Custody Four Months after Bloody Clash over Land Dispute
A Catholic follower in Vietnam’s central province of Ha Tinh is still in detention over four months after a bloody clash between local farmers and police, according to the local website www.sbtn.tv.
Le Thi Vuong was among eight Catholic followers in Du Loc parish who were arrested by police in Ky Anh district in April, and she is still in custody while seven others were released. Her family has not been informed about her situation after the detention, according to the website (you can see the full report in Vietnamese here http://www.sbtn.tv/vi/tin-viet-nam/cong-van-chua-tha-nguoi-bat-trong-vu-dan-ap-dam-mau-tai-huyen-ky-anh-ha-tinh.html.)
The arrests were made following the clash on April 6 when local authorities sent 500 heavily-armed policemen and militia to attack people in the parish who opposed construction of an electrical transmission cable by a unit of the state-owned Electricity of Vietnam on their land due to inadequate compensation.
The unit took large areas of the land belonging to Du Loc parish in Ky Trinh commune for building a high-pressure transmission system but refused to pay for the land at market prices. Not agreeing with the low compensation for their land, followers in the parish blocked the company work and called for support from local authorities to settle the disputes.
During the clash between the farmers and police, some police officers received light injuries while many Catholic followers in the parish were brutally beaten by police. Many farmers were hospitalized for emergency.
After the clash, police summoned the group of eight followers, accusing them of inciting uprising against local authorities.
Seven followers who were detained and released later said they were interrogated and tortured by police officers who forced them to admit the “wrongdoings” in exchange of being freed.
The released followers said they have still been under close surveillance by local police.
One follower said police detained him (or her)? without a warrant from relevant authorities. Some were detained after being summoned to the communal People’s Committee building while others were kidnapped when they went to work.
Land grabbing is rampant in Vietnam where all land belongs to the state while local residents have only user rights.
Under the current law, the state can take land for socio-economic development and pay compensation at prices often lower than the market prices.
Authorities in provincial and district levels in many localities have abused the regulation, taking land from local residents for building industrial and urban projects without paying adequate compensation to affected people.
Thousands of people have petitioned against land grabbing in Vietnam. They have been gathering in government offices in Hanoi and cities as well as rallying in streets in the capital city to demand for justice.
They have been subjected to persecution by police forces who have harassed and detained them in some occasion.
Many land petitioners have been beaten, detained and imprisoned for causing public disorders.
Meanwhile, Catholic followers have been subjected to discrimination in communist Vietnam. The government has taken a number of facilities belonging to Catholic churches nationwide.
Hanoi Sends 300 Police, Militia to Grab Land in Long Bien, Evicted Residents Get Injured
On September 9, authorities in Long Bien district in Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi sent 300 police and militia to grab a land parcel belonging to Mr. Hoang Cong Kiem.
Police and militia demolished houses and other facilities of Kiem’s family, evicting the family’s members to the communal building.
Kiem reported that his wife and pregnant daughter were beaten severely by police. His wife suffered a broken rib while the daughter is still feeling pain after several days.
The 4,000-square-meter land belongs to Kiem since 1988. Local authorities want to take his land for selling to a local firm for building gold yard without paying compensation for the land.
U.S. Senator Sends Letter to Vietnamese Prisoner of Conscience
U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy has sent a letter to land rights activist Bui Thi Minh Hang, who is serving her three-year imprisonment on the trumped-up charge of causing public disorders in reprisal against her activities which aimed to promote human rights and democracy in Vietnam.
In his letter dated September 9, Senator Cassidy started “I am writing a letter to you with special concerns about your current situations.”
He said that despite her imprisonment, her stories and contributions to the country will be remembered.
He informed that American legislators are putting their efforts to pressure Hanoi to release her unconditionally. It is not good for Vietnam to silence critics like her.
Vung Tau City-based Blogger Fined VND5M
A blogger in the southern city of Vung Tau said he has been fined VND5 million ($222) by the Ba Ria-Vung Tau province’s Department of Information and Communication for his posting on his private blog.
Blogger Doan Huu Long said he has posted a number of articles since 2012 to criticize Vietnam’s communist government on bribery, bad socio-economic management and weak response to China’s violations of the country’s sovereignty in the East Sea.
Several years ago, Long was dismissed from a state official post.
Đoàn Hữu Long: Tôi bị xử phạt 5 triệu đồng vì blog cá nhân này
U.S. Diplomat Meets Activists Who Were Beaten by Police in Lam Dong
On September 12, Mr. David V. Muehlke, political officer of the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam met with local activists who were brutally beaten by under-covered police in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong two weeks ago.
During the meeting in Hanoi, Professor Pham Minh Hoang, former political prisoner Chu Manh Son, activists Le Dinh Luong, Tran Thi Nga and Nguyen Thi Thuy reported the incident on August 28 in which they were brutally assaulted by plainclothes security agents after visiting fresh-released prisoner of conscience Tran Minh Nhat (the full report on the incident you can read here: http://www.vietnamhumanrightsdefenders.net/2015/08/29/vietnam-activists-brutally-beaten-by-policemen-thugs-after-visiting-fresh-released-political-prisoner/)
In turn, Mr. Muehlke shared deep sympathies with the victims of police abuse and said the U.S. government is takes a strong interest in Vietnam’s human rights situation.
“We are very concerned about Vietnam’s suppression against local dissents and we will voice and pressure Hanoi to ensure the similar incidents not to be repeated,” he said.
Dak Lak Resident Hospitalized after Being Beaten by Mobile Police
Mr. Nguyen Duy Hau, a 23-year-old resident in Buon Ma Thuoc city in Vietnam’s Central Highlands province of Dak Lak has been under special treatment of severe injuries inflicted by local police.
In the evening of September 2, Hau and his friends were dancing and singing to mark the National Day, police came and dispersed the band. When the party makers objected, police detained them, handcuffed and put them into a police car. In the car, police pepper-sprayed Hau in the face, making the man fall unconscious.
Two friends of Hau’s, named Nguyen Thanh Loi and Huynh Anh Dung, protested that Hau should not be pepper-sprayed since he was already handcuffed and in response, police also sprayed the duo with pepper.
Hau was freed after spending several hours in police station under very bad health conditions.
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