October 12, 2015
Vietnam Human Rights Defenders’ Weekly October 5-11: Hanoi Boy Dies from Severe Injuries during Detention, Police Blame Another Detainee for Beating Him
Defenders’ Weekly | Oct 11, 2015
Do Dang Du, 17-year-old boy from Hanoi, who was held from early August for allegedly stealing money from his neighbor, died in Bach Mai Hospital due to severe injuries sustained during detention in a local detention facility. After his death, his relatives and local activists held demonstration in the hospital to demand Hanoi’s authorities to determine the causes of his death and bring the killer to the court.
On October 6, land petitioners in the country formed a National Association of Land Petitioners with aim to seek justice for farmers from the three parts of the country whose land has been illegally seized by local authorities.
Security forces in Hanoi have continued harassing staff of Luong Tam (Conscience) TV by summoning activists involved in the production and broadcast of video reports on human rights violations in the communist country.
The Inter-religious Council issued a statement condemning the ongoing harassment of the communist government against religious groups.
Authorities in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau on October 8 violently evicted monks from the Tinh That Dat Quang Pagoda and demolished the pagoda to make way for local urban development.
And other important news.
Two Newly-Released Prisoners of Conscience Vow to Fight for Religious Freedom
Duong Thi Tron and Mai Thi Dung, two Hoa Hao Buddhist followers in the Mekong Delta, have declared they will continue to fight for freedom of religion after being released from prison.
Last week, Mrs. Tron completed her 9-year imprisonment while Ms. Dung completed her nine and half years in jail. Both were jailed for fighting for freedom of practicing their beliefs.
The two women said they were treated inhumanely by prison authorities.
Two Vietnam Cops Jailed for Torture in Murder Case
The People’s Court in Vietnam’s southern province of Soc Trang on October 7 imprisoned two police officers for torturing seven suspects in a local murder case.
According to the court’s decision, Nguyen Hoang Quan and Trieu Tuan Hung, two police who investigated the murder of Mr. Ly Van Dung in Dai An 2 commune in Tran De district, were sentenced to 18 months and 24 months in prison respectively for torture while Pham Van Nui, a provincial procuracy officer, was sentenced to 12 months of non-custodial reform for negligence which causes serious consequences.
The verdict said in 2013, Soc Trang authorities arrested Thach So Phach, Tran Van Do, Tran Hol, Tran Cua, Khau Soc and Thach Muol to investigate the death of Mr. Dung, who was killed on July 6.
After long detention, the seven were released after the real murderers voluntarily confessed their crime to the local police.
After being freed, the seven menfiled denunciation, alleging thatpolice officers Quan and Hung of committing torture and forcing them to confess toa crime they did not commit.
Mr. Nui was accused of approving the arrest warrant, prosecution and detention of the seven without solid evidences.
Two other police officers of Soc Trang province’s Police Department were also disciplined for negligence in the case.
Torture is systematic in Vietnam where police forces are considered essential to maintaining the one-party regime, according to international human rights bodies.
As many as 226 Vietnamese suspected of committing crimes were found dead during detention in police stations between October 1, 2011 and September 30, 2014. Torture is the main reason for most of these deaths although Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security said suicides and diseases are the main causes.
During the period, people in 46 cases accused police investigators of conducting tortures but police admitted that only three complaints were correct.
Last year, Vietnam ratified the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in a bid to deal with police torture. However, the situation has remained unimproved as around ten people have been founded dead or severely injured in police stations nationwide so far this year.
Vietnam Pledges to Strictly Implement TPP Commitments
Vietnam will strictly implement its commitments in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement in preparation for the signing and ratification of the world’s largest free trade pact, said Spokesman Le Hai Binh of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“Vietnam will continue to increase the capacity of localities and businesses to implement earnestly the TPP commitments and optimize its benefits,” said Mr. Binh at a press conference in Hanoi on October 6 without specifying the country’s commitments to the 12-nation pact.
The fresh conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement negotiations will enable Vietnam to expand cooperation and deepen her relations with leading partners in the region and beyond, said Mr. Binh.
“Vietnam highly values the resolve and remarkable efforts as well as the flexibility and creativity of TPP member countries to complete the pact in a balanced, comprehensive manner and with high standards, in Atlanta city on October 5,” he noted.
Together with the current cooperation and connection mechanisms like the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the TPP conclusion marks an important milestone in promoting the multi-layered connectivity trend and maintaining peace, stability and dynamic development in Asia-Pacific, he said.
The deal contributes to diversifying markets and material supply sources, thus facilitating Vietnam’s deeper involvement in regional and global production networks and value chains, he added.
Vietnam was said to have pledged to allow independent labor unions and improve working conditions in factories.
On September 24, in his closing speech of the 42nd session of the Standing Committee of Vietnam’s legislative body National Assembly, Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung asked the committee to consider whether to submit the draft Law on Associations to the parliament in its upcoming one-month sitting for discussion and approval, or delay for further discussion.
Hung said the draft law has many sensitive issues which require further discussions while Lawmaker Duong Trung Quoc said the draft law would not be submitted to the NA for discussion and approval in this term.
The delay is likely aimed at preventing the establishment of independent trade unions as well as other independent civil societies which may challenge the political monopoly of the ruling communists, said observers.
Due to lack of legal basis for associations, Vietnamese workers have no rights to form independent trade unions while all their strikes have been considered illegal.
Meanwhile, workers’ human rights are not respected while working conditions in many domestic and foreign-invested plants are very poor, according to state-run media.
Many strikes have been suppressed while a number of labor activists have been arrested and charged for conducting anti-government activities.
Hanoi to Try Leader of Unsanctioned Republican Party of Vietnam in December
The communist government in Hanoi will bring Nguyen Viet Dung, the founder and leader of the unsanctioned Republican Party of Vietnam, to the court in December, few months ahead of the 12th National Congress of the ruling communist party, the British Broadcasting Co. (BBC) reported on October 7, citing information from his lawyers and family.
Mr. Dung, 30, an engineer graduated from the prestigious Hanoi University of Science and Technology, will be tried for committing public disorder under Article 245 of the country’s Penal Code in the first hearing in a Hanoi court, nine months after being detained by security forces in Vietnam’s capital city.
If found guilty, he faces imprisonment of between two and seven years, according to the Penal Code.
Dung’s family has hired three human rights lawyers,Tran Thu Nam, Vo An Don and Le Van Luan, to defend him. Some of them already met him in the Hanoi Detention No. 1 located in Tu Liem district.
On April 12, Mr. Dung and four friends were detained by Hanoi security forces right after they attended a peaceful demonstration in the city’s center to protest the local government’s plan to chop down 6,700 aged valuable trees in some of the city’s key streets.
The police released his friends but kept Dung and accused him of “disturbing public order” and charged him under Article 245 of the Penal Code.
Following Mr. Dung’s arrest, police conducted a search of his home and seized many other items associated with the former Republic of Vietnam.
According to the local website Danlambao (Citizen Journalist), Dung has been severely tortured by Hanoi security officers during interrogation. Investigating officers of Hoan Kiem district beat Mr. Dung brutally when he refused to cooperate with them during the interrogation.
Dung received a number of severe injuries, including broken ribbons, by police torture and police sent him to the Hanoi-based Viet Duc Hospital for treatment, a source from Dung’s family said.
Dung has not been permitted to meet with his relatives since his arrest, his family told BBC.
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.
After graduating from the prestigious Hanoi University of Science and Technology, Dung returned to his home town.
In early of April, Dung declared the founding of the Republican Party of Vietnam to fight for multi-party democracy and promote human rights in the Southeast Asian nation.
One month after his arrest, 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 should take active interest in this matter and 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 their basic freedomsand 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, Vietnam’s human rights record seems to be worsening, he noted.
The detention of Mr. Dung has drawn great concern among Vietnamese. The unsanctioned Vietnam Blogger Network (VBN) released a statement condemning his arrest, saying his participation in the peaceful demonstration cannot be listed as public disturbance.
Based on the facts, the VBN considers the arrest of Mr. Dung by Hanoi’s police as arbitrary detention, showing the power abuse of police forces in the capital city. The arrest is a serious violation of human rights, it noted.
Mr. Dung’s detention is closely related to his role in the establishment of the Republican Party of Vietnam, local observers said, adding the ruling party has vowed to keep the nation under one-party regime, and ordered the security forces not to allow opposition to be established.
The communist government in Vietnam has harassed, persecuted and imprisoned all government critics, criminalizing those who bravely speak out about corruption, poor economic management and weak response to China’s 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 says itholds no prisoners of conscience but only law violators.
Meanwhile, torture is systemic in Vietnam. The lawyers have yet to be allowed to be present during interrogation while the right to remain silent is enshrined only in a draft law.
Hanoi Demands Phnom Penh to Ensure Rights of Vietnamese People in Tonlé Sap
Vietnam has said it expected Cambodia would assure legitimate rights of Vietnamese people living in Tonlé Sap, the inundated freshwater lake with a mosaic of natural and agricultural habitats, following the news that the Cambodia government will move them to other places.
Vietnam hoped that Cambodia’s authorities, in the spirit of long-lasting friendship, would create favorable conditions for the Vietnamese community living in the country to help them settle down and improve their livelihood, Spokesman Le Hai Binh of the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said at a press conference on October 8.
The statement was made after authorities in the floating villages on Tonlé Sap River in Kampong Chnang province plan to relocate 1,486 households of Khmer, Cham and Vietnamese ethnicity between October 15 and 25, serving the local development in the 2015-2019 period, according to Sun Sovannarith, deputy head of the province.
But Nguyen Yon Mas, a local resident, said that the Vietnamese people have lived there since the collapse of Khmer Rouge in 1979. The affected communities fear for natural disasters, insecurity, lack of electricity and safe water, and impoverishment if they were forced to resettle in a place three kilometers away.
Vietnam’s government is also concerned over protest against Vietnamese people living in Cambodia caused by the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).
For the past years, CNRP has put pressure on the Hun Sen administration to expel any Vietnamese residing illegally in Cambodia.
CNRP also blamed the Cambodia government for ceding land to Vietnam by using incorrect maps to determine border demarcations.
The opposition party repeatedly organized demonstrations in Phnom Penh and burnt Vietnamese flag in front of the Vietnamese Embassy in Cambodia, and is hostile towards the Vietnamese community in the country.
Tran Cong Truc, former head of the Vietnamese Government’s Border Committee, warned that CNRP’s attitude and the act of ruining the Vietnam-Cambodia relation was somewhat backed by Chinese forces.
PM Hun Sen once said at a conference in Phnom Penh late September that war would possibly happen if CNRP won at the general election in 2018 because of its severe hostility towards Vietnam and the rich in Cambodia.
It is unsure if the Hun Sen administration bears any pressure from CNRP’s threats, as the Cambodian government expelled nearly 2,000 Vietnamese illegal immigrants in the first nine months of this year.
Vietnam and Cambodia share a 1,137-kilometer borderline that goes through 10 provinces in the south.
Police in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Harass Monks, Demolish Tinh That Dat Quang Pagoda
On October 8, authorities in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau deployed 300 police officers and militia to evict monks out of Tinh That Dat Quang Pagoda and demolished the pagoda later.
The police forces used pepper spray to attack monks who tried to resist the eviction by closing all the doors of the pagoda.
The police also severely beat followers who came to support the monks. A number of followers were hospitalized due to police violence.
Land Petitioners across Vietnam Form United Association to Seek Justice
On October 6, land petitioners in the country formed a National Association of Land Petitioners with aims to seek justice for farmers from three parts of the country whose land has been illegally seized by local authorities.
The association’s founding was announced during a demonstration of hundreds of land petitioners in front of the Hanoi-based Vietnam Television (VTV).
The association has called on state-run media and social media to address their losses as well as ignorance of state agencies in all levels to deal with corruption in land issues.
Hanoi Police Continue Harassing Staff of Independent Luong Tam TV
Security forces in Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi have continued their harassment against staff of Luong Tam (Conscience) TV, an independent broadcasting channel covering human rights violations in the communist nation, by summoning Ms. Le Yen, the anchor of the program, to police station for interrogation.
After detaining Ms. Yen on September 23 for questioning about her role in the production and broadcast of three Luong Tam TV episodes, police released her at the mid night of the same day.The police in Hanoi asked her to come to police station for interrogation again on the next day.
On October 07, the police in the capital city continued to summon her for questioning on the next day. When the young girl refused to go to the police station, on October 08, the police sent a second order to request her to meet with investigation officersat a police station on Friday.
Ms. Yen said she will not go to the meeting as requested since she had nothing to talk with the police.
About two weeks ago, Hanoi police detained five Luong Tam TV staff: journalist Nguyen Vu Binh, anchor Le Yen, cameraman Pham Dac Dat, video technician Nguyen Manh Cuong, and translator Le Thu Ha. Police also confiscated all their personal belongings and Luong Tam TV’s equipments, including a camcorder, a Sony Anpha 58 camera, a lighting kit for studio with four tripods and four lights, three laptops, a tablet, four phones, three USB drives, $100 of cash, furniture and other devices for the studio.
After questioning the five activists for a whole day, the police released them late at night. When dozens of other activists gathered at the police headquarters in Hai Ba Trung district to demand for their unconditional release, the local authorities sent dozens of police officers, militia and thugs to suppress them, beating some activists.
The Hanoi police’s harassment of the staff of Luong Tam TV is part of the ongoing political crackdown the communist government has intensified recently to silence local dissent ahead of the 12th National Congress of the ruling communist party slated for early 2016.
The communist government in Hanoi has strived not to allow establishment of private newspapers and other broadcast means as well as the setting up of opposition parties.
On October 1, 18 unsanctioned civil society organizations and four individuals in Vietnam voiced their support for the joint statement of the Former Vietnamese Prisoners of Conscience and the Brothers for Democracy Association condemning the suppression by the Hanoi police against Luong Tam (Conscience) TV.
Luong Tam TV produced three video clips about human rights violations in Vietnam and broadcast them on the Internet, the first of which was released on August 19. Every program lasted about eight minutes.
The programs received huge support from the public and tens of thousands of people watched them.
The Luong Tam TV team said they will release the 4th program soon.
On October 7, the Hanoi police also summoned pro-democracy activist Ngo Duy Quyen to a police station to regarding an open letter he sent to Minister of Public Security General Tran Dai Quang earlier this year. Mr. Quyen considered the summoning illegal and refused to go to the meeting with security officers.
Authorities in Thua Thien-Hue Seize Land Belonging to Catholic Thien An Church
On October 8, authorities in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue sent around 100 police officers to support Tien Phong Forest Cooperative and Haco Hue Co. Ltd to take Duc Me (Mother) Hill belonging to Catholic Thien An Church.
The two state-owned firms took the hill to build a tourism site.
The church’s dignitaries invited state officials to mediate the land dispute but local officials refused.
Prominent Vietnamese Dissident Refuses State Proposal to Live in Exile in U.S., Wanting to Remain to Fight for Multi-party Democracy
Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, a prominent Vietnamese political prisoner who is serving his long-term imprisonment, has refused to be released early and live in exile in the U.S., but stay in the home country to fight for multi-party democracy, said his father.
Mr. Tran Van Huynh, the father of entrepreneur Thuc, said many times officials of the Vietnamese communist government have come to Xuyen Moc prison in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau where the democracy advocate is jailed to propose him to go to the U.S. like a number of other political prisoners, but the suggestion had been turned down.
A human rights and pro-democracy activist, Mr. Thuc, who was arrested in 2009 and sentenced to 16 years in jail for “carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration” under Article 79 of Vietnam’s Penal Code, said he wants to remain in the country to fight for removing the controversial articles of the Penal Code which are used to silencelocal dissent.
Representatives of Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security have pledged to reduce Thuc’s sentence if he confesses guilt, but the activist has rejected the proposal, saying he is innocent and demanding for unconditional release.
In 2010, Mr. Thuc was tried in day-long trial alongside fellow dissidents Le Cong Dinh, Nguyen Tien Trung and Le Thang Long. The London-based Amnesty International called the trial “a mockery of justice” and said the “trial allowed no meaningful defense for the accused.” The trial judges deliberated for 15 minutes before returning with the judgment, which took 45 minutes to read. Amnesty International said the judgment had clearly been prepared in advance of the hearing.
His imprisonment was condemned by then British Foreign Office Minister Ivan Lewis and American ambassador Michael W. Michalak while the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights concluded his detention was arbitrary and requested the Vietnamese government to release him immediately.
In the past few years, Vietnam’s communist government has released early a number of political dissidents who peacefully exercised the rights of free expression enshrined in the country’s Constitution.
Among those released early were chemical teacher Dinh Dang Dinh, France-trained legal doctor Cu Huy Ha Vu, bloggers Nguyen Van Hai and Ta Phong Tan. Mr. Dinh died shortly after being freed due to poor health caused by the inhumane treatment in prison while the last three were brought directly from prisons to airports where they were forced to take international flights to the U.S. for exile.
Their releases were results of diplomatic efforts of the U.S. and other democratic governments as well as pressure of international human rights bodies as Vietnam has sought international political and economical support to addressits economic difficulties and deal with China’s violations of its sovereignty in the East Sea.
Dr. Vu said Vietnam has treated prisoners of conscience as goods in exchange for economic aids from Western countries. According to the New York-based Human Rights Watch, Vietnam is holding between 150 and 200 prisoners of conscience, but Hanoi always denies it, saying it imprisons only law violators.
Meanwhile, Vietnam has intensified its political crackdown against local dissidents and human rights activists few months ahead of the 12th National Congress of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam, which has vowed to keep the country under a one-party regime and not tolerated criticism. Along with hiring thugs and using plainclothes agents to brutally attack activists, Vietnam has also detained a number of others.
On September 23, Hanoi police briefly detained staff staff of the independent Luong Tam (Conscience) TV for questioning after it launched three programs reporting on human rights violations in the communist nation.
Two days earlier, authorities in Thai Binh province arrested Tran Anh Kim, the political prisoner who completed his 5-and-half-year imprisonment in January, and charged him with conducting anti-state activities under Article 79. Mr. Kim, 66, face imprisonment of between twelve and twenty years if convicted.
Vietnam will also try Nguyen Viet Dung, founder and leader of the unsanctioned Republican Party of Vietnam which strives to fight for multi-party democracy and human rights, for taking part in a peaceful demonstration in Hanoi in April to protest the city’s plan to cut down thousands of valuable aged trees in the city’s main streets.
Hanoi Boy Dies from Severe Injuries during Detention, Police Blame Another Detainee for Beating Him
Authorities in Vietnam’s capital city have decided to probe a detainee, blaming him for causing severe injuries which led to the death of another amid rising public anger, state media has reported.
Vu Van Binh, 1998, a detainee held in the Hanoi Detention No. 3 in Ha Dong district, will be charged for “intentionally injuring” Do Dang Du, 17, who was transferred to the Hanoi-based Bach Mai Hospital for special treatment last week and reportedly died there on October 10.
According to the Hanoi police’s Investigation Agency, Binh and Du were held in the same room for junior detainees from August 13. On October 4, Binh beat Du after the two had a minor dispute, the police said, adding the detention authorities immediately took Du to Ha Dong Central Hospital and later to Bach Mai Hospital for treatment.
The investigation agency conducted autopsy to determine the exact causes of Du’s death, however, his family and friends say it is hard to know the real reasons for his death due to the lack of independent investigation.
In addition to prosecuting Binh, the Hanoi police will also investigate the responsibilities of police officers of the detention facility forallowing the beating to take place, they said.
Du, the boy from Dong Cuu village, Dong Phuong Yen commune, Chuong My district, on August 5 was caught in the act of stealing VND1.5 million ($67) from his neighbor. Although he returned the money to the owner, he was arrested by the Chuong My district police on the same day.
The Bach Mai Hospital authorities said Du suffered numerous injuries on his body and head.
During his stay in the hospital, the police had blocked the emergency area where he was placed, not allowing his relatives and friends to visit him. His family believed he was tortured by police in detention.
The family said it had not received any documents confirming Du’sdetention since he was detained August 5.
Meanwhile, police torture is a systemic problem across Vietnam, according to the New York-based Human Rights Watch while the Ministry of Public Security reported 226 deaths of detainees and prisoners in police detention facilities in the past four years.
The ministry said most of the deaths were caused by suicides and severe diseases, however, families of the victims believe the real cause is police torture.
Vietnam ratified the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Treatments in 2014, however, the police torture has not been prevented. Since the beginning of 2015, nearly tenindividuals died or suffered from severe injuries due to police torture, according to state media.
Inter-religious Council Condemns Vietnam’s Harassment against Religious Groups
The Inter-religious Council of Vietnam has issued a statement condemning the ongoing harassment by the communist government against religious groups.
Despite its international commitments to respect freedom of religions and beliefs, Vietnam’s communist government has continued to deploy policies to harass religions, especially those religious sects which are unregistered, the statement said.