Vietnam Human Rights Defenders’ Weekly October 19-25: Amnesty International Calls on Vietnamese President to Suspend Capital Punishment against Unfairly Tried Le Van Manh

Defenders’ Weekly | Oct 25, 2015

Defenders-weekly

On October 23, the London-based Amnesty International sent a letter to Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang, urging him to suspend the implementation of execution against Le Van Manh, who was unfairly tried in a murder case ten  years ago.

Thousands of human rights activists have petitioned to call for suspension of the death penalty against Manh and fair trial for the 33-year-old man.

Pro-government supporters in Hanoi have conducted a number of brutal attacks against local political dissidents and human rights activists recently. On October 21 and October 23, they attacked the family of blogger Nguyen Lan Thang, brutally beating his wife and his friend Nguyen The Trung.

Authorities in Ho Chi Minh City have strived to illegally seize a school facility in Thu Thiem belonging to the local Catholic Church for building a urban project. Meeting strong protest from the church, the communist government in District 2 was forced to suspend demolition of the facility.

and many other important news.

———————— Oct  19————————

Vietnam Going to Tighten Control over Religions, Beliefs

The Law draft on Religions and Beliefs which is submitted to Vietnam’s parliament for approval this month requires too many kinds of applications for the purpose of restricting religious freedom, includes ambiguous terms and articles which can be freely applied by the local authorities, and contains a lot of contradictory articles, said the Interfaith Council of Vietnam.

The Ministry of Home Affairs did not allow religious organizations adequate time to give opinions on the draft, the council said.

The council requested that religions be considered independent civil organizations, independent to organize their personnel and structure, free to publicize their doctrine, allowed to possess land, and free to communicate with their followers.

Other religious organizations and human rights bodies have voiced their concerns that this law will restrict religious freedom. Vietnam must tackle human rights abuses if it wants to safeguard its emerging economy, they said.

Impact on the Vietnamese Economy

According to the World Bank, Vietnam is a “development success story”. Once one of the poorest countries in the world with a per capita income of approximately $100, the country now has a per capita income of over $2000.

The number of people living in extreme poverty has dropped from 50% in the 1990s to 3% today.  GDP has accelerated to 6.3% during the first half of 2015.

According to a US Department of State’s 2014 Investment Climate Statement, Vietnam has successfully attracted large volumes of foreign direct investment, sustaining levels of around $10-$12 billion per year over the last six years.

Investors are attracted by Vietnam’s growing consumer market, position near global supply chains and relative political and economic stability. Any evidence of human rights abuses is therefore likely to impact investor confidence.

Brad Adams, executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division, recently called on Vietnam’s international donors to press the government to end policies that restrict religious freedom. According to Adams, “donors and other governments need to make ending these abuses a priority instead of seeing them as part of their ‘business as usual’ approach to a one-party state that refuses to engage in serious human rights reforms”.

Under pressure from human rights organizations, and with potential investors at risk, Vietnam is going to have to think carefully before implementing any law that restricts religious freedom. If it does not, its status as a developing success story could well be at stake.

Globalriskinsights: Religious freedom under threat in Vietnam

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Vietnam Bishop Asks to End Harassing Catholics

Bishop Michael Hoang Duc Oanh of Kon Tum in Vietnam issued an open letter to local government questioning the motive behind its effort to destroy a makeshift Catholic church in a remote village.

In his letter, Bishop Hoang Duc Oanh summarized in chronological order the series of actions taken by the local communist officials since June 2015 to harass his flock in Daknu. He strongly expresses the resentful feeling of people of faith when the authorities keep ignoring the people’s repeated request for the permission to build new church to provide service to an expanding Catholic population.

The prelate expressed concern that local authorities at all levels have tried all tricks to take down any house of worship the faithful trying to build regardless the size or material being used to set up the shack.

He pointed out the incident on June 28 when Daknu parishioners attempted to upgrade their old worship hut with corrugate roof and new columns made from tree trunks, the government immediately responded with an order to dismantle the new shack. The order was followed by bribe of alcohol to families to push for compliance. Even the priests were summoned by the People’s Committee to be lectured on the need of parishioners to obey the order. None of their efforts were successful and people started to take turn guarding the new build church around the clock.

The bishop expressed his concern about the ripple effect on other 202 worship huts throughout Kon Tum should this makeshift church be brought down. He reiterated the need for respecting the law on freedom of religion as guaranteed by Vietnam Constitution. He even suggested a fine payment in exchange for the newly reconstructed house of worship to stay in existence, or even a court trial to settle the dispute once in for all.

Vietnam’s 87 million people include 48% Buddhists, more than 7% Catholics, 5.6% syncretistic and 20%. Though small in numbers, the Christian community is particularly active in education, health and social affairs.

Recently, the Vietnamese bishops – especially the Bishop of Kon Tum and the Bishop of Vinh – strongly criticized Hanoi’s bill on “Faith and religion” which violates the freedom of religion and limits worship. The prelates have stressed that the proposed norm contrasts with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam which, in principle, protects worship.

Ucanindia: Vietnam Bishop asks to end harassing Catholics

———————

Vietnam Puts Pressure on Family Who Allege Police Brutality in Son’s Death

Vietnamese authorities on Monday asked the family of a man who died in police custody to withdraw a letter they had written to the UN Human Rights Council requesting an investigation of his death, the man’s mother said.

Police detained Do Dang Du, 17, from Dong Phuong Yen village in Hanoi’s Chuong My district, on August. 5 for committing petty theft. The district police chief signed an order to hold him for two months while officers investigated the crime.

But on October 4 while Du was still in custody, he was beaten unconscious and remained in a coma until he died six days later.

Do Thi Mai, Du’s mother, told RFA’s Vietnamese Service that a representative from the People’s Council, a local body of power in the authoritarian state, came to her house and asked her to withdraw the letter, which the she wrote to the UN on October 16.

“He was not a  policeman,” Mai said. “He told us to withdraw our letter and not to do anything, just wait for the police to compensate us, and that I could receive the money at home or go to the village office to get it.”

But Mai told the representative that the family had authorized lawyers to represent them, so they would have to consult their attorneys about his suggestion, she said.

She said the family had decided to contact the U.N.’s Human Rights Council and lawyers inside Vietnam for help because they believed that police brutally beat Du and killed him.

Tran Thu Nam, one of the family’s lawyers, said he had advised Du’s relatives on how to work with the U.N., and that someone from the organization’s Human Rights Council had contacted the family.

“If the U.N. Human Rights Council gets involved, this could have a huge impact on the government of Vietnam,” he said. “I only gave them advice on how to cooperate with the council. I don’t know how they met or who connected them.”

Vietnam’s state-controlled media reported that Du’s cellmate, Vu Van Binh, beat him on October 4. After Du collapsed, police took him to the emergency room at a hospital in Hanoi’s Ha Dong district, but doctors transferred him to Bach Mai hospital, a highly specialized medical center in Dong Da district.

Du’s family, who found out about his hospitalization on October 6, said that the injuries covering Du’s body indicated that the police had tortured him.

On October 8, two days before Du died of his injuries, the Hanoi police issued a decision to prosecute Binh for beating Du to death.

Police brutality in Vietnam is a common human rights violation. Scores of people detained on minor charges often die each year while in custody, where they are beaten to extract confessions, sometimes for crimes they say they did not commit, or for criticizing police officers.

Tran Thi Nga, a human rights activist and member of the independent movement Vietnam Women for Human Rights, said Du’s family contacted her organization to publicize the story of their son’s death on social media.

“They [the family] knew that I was the one who publicized news about other cases like [those of death-row prisoners] Ho Duy Hai and Nguyen Van Chuong, so they contacted me and wanted my help to spread the news and give them legal advice,” she said.

Nga was one of four rights activists physically attacked by policemen and several unidentified individuals on Aug. 29 in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong, following  a celebration for the release of human rights journalist Tran Minh Nhat.

Some human rights activists visited Du’s family after he died, when his relatives had taken his body back to their village for burial, she said.

But police harassed them along with others who went to pay tribute to Du, and officers badly beat activist Truong Van Dung, Nga said.

Du’s family needs more support in their quest for justice, she said.

“If people do not say anything about the Do Dang Du case, then in the future there will be more like it where people die in police custody,” Nga said.

RFA: Vietnam Puts Pressure on Family Who Allege Police Brutality in Son’s Death

———————-

Vietnam Activists Call for Immediate Release of Blogger AnhBaSam

Vietnamese political activists and human rights defenders have jointly signed a petition calling for unconditional and immediate release of blogger Nguyen Huu Vinh, who is co-founder of an independent news website AnhBaSam and his partner Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy.

In their petition sent to Vietnamese leaders and the communist government as well as foreign diplomatic corporations and international human rights bodies, activists led by well-known economist Nguyen Quang A and journalist Vo Van Tao urged Vietnam to drop its charges against the duo which was arrested on May 5 last year on allegation of “Abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the State, the legitimate rights and interests of organizations and/or citizens” under Article 258 of the country’s Penal Code.

So far, over 200 political dissidents and human rights activists have signed the petition, the initiators said, adding the number of petitioners is rising.

After 17 months of detention, Vietnam has yet to bring the duo to the court nor free them although the country’s Penal Code Procedure limits the pre-trial detention.

Many international human rights bodies have reiterated that both Mr. Vinh and Ms. Thuy are innocent, and the Vietnamese communist government has no reason to continue holding him.

Mr. Vinh, a former security officer and son of a senior communist official, and his friends founded independent news website AnhBaSam in September 2007, on which they have been posting thousands of articles to criticize Vietnam’s systemic corruption, poor government’s socio-economic management  and weak response to China’s violations of the country’s sovereignty in the East Sea.

Vu Quoc Ngu: Vietnam Activists Call for Immediate Release of Blogger AnhBaSam

———— Oct 20 ———–

Vietnam Stops Investigation against Well-known Blogger Nguyen Quang Lap

The Investigation Agency in Ho Chi Minh City has decided to stop its investigation against dissident writer Nguyen Quang Lap, a well-known blogger with numerous articles criticizing Vietnam’s government on his blog Que Choa.

The move was taken on October 20, eleven months after his arrest on allegation of anti-state propaganda under Article 88 of the country’s Penal Code.

The HCM City-based writer was arrested on December 6 last year for running Que Choa blog posting many articles “against the state” and China’s aggression in the East Sea.

The arrest of Mr. Lap has caught public indignation and calls for immediate release from domestic and foreign intellectuals and organizations, including the Committee to Protect Journalists.

He was released on February 10 due to his bad health condition, however, the police Investigation Agency continued the probe against him.

In late 2014, Vietnam detained two other bloggers Le Hong Tho, who posted his writings on Nguoi Lot Gach blog, and Nguyen Ngoc Gia who had a number of articles criticizing the government and communist party’s policies on foreign-based websites. Mr. Tho was released later but Mr. Gia is still in the police detention.

Vietnam is still holding Nguyen Huu Vinh, one of bloggers who running news website Anhbasam and his partner Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy. The duo was arrested on May 5 last year on allegation of “Abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the State, the legitimate rights and interests of organizations and/or citizens” under Article 258 of the Penal Code.

Their detention met strong protest from foreign governments and international human rights bodies.

The Vietnamese communist government has used controversial articles 79, 88 and 258 of the Penal Code to silence local dissidents who exercise the right of expression which is enshrined in the country’s Constitution 2013.

Vu Quoc Ngu: Vietnam Stops Investigation against Well-known Blogger Nguyen Quang Lap

———— Oct 21————

Vietnamese Mother Informed About Her Son Death in Prison After 16 Months

A mother came to a Vietnamese prison to visit her son and was informed by authorities that her offspring had died 16 months ago, the Dan Tri newswire has reported.

The son, Tran Anh Tuan, who was serving his 12-year imprisonment in the Phu Yen province-based Xuan Phuoc Prison managed by the Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security. In 2002, Tuan, born in 1981, was sentenced for a murder he committed one year earlier. He was due to be freed in late June 2013.

Due to the family’s economic difficulties, relatives rarely visited Tuan during the past over ten years, said his father Tran Dung. Earlier this month, Mrs. Tran Thi Ngoc, his mother, came to the prison to ask why her son has not came back after the imprisonment ended and the prison’s authorities said he died on June 12, 2013 due to the HIV/AIDS disease.

Upset by the death of her son, Mrs. Ngoc questioned why the prison’s authorities had not have informed her family about the death of her son, they replied that they already sent notices to the family and local authorities in Vinh Tho ward, Nha Trang city, Khanh Hoa province where the family is residing.

Returning to Vinh Tho ward to question the local authorities for not informing her family about Tuan’s death, the local officials said they have no responsibilities to do it. They said the prison’s authorities are due to inform the family, but the notice may not be sent to her family as the family moved to Phuoc Dong commune in the same city.

The family is still petitioning state agencies in Nha Trang city to protest the negligence of local cadres.

Meanwhile, many people were reported to die in detentions and prisons in Vietnam which are managed by the Ministry of Public Security. According to the ministry, 226 detainees and inmates died in prisons in 2010-2014 period. Police said most of the deaths were caused by diseases and suicides, however, families of victims suspected that they died from torture.

In Vietnam’s prisons, human rights violations are systemic as inmates have been forced to work hard under while food is very bad and the living conditions are very severe, according to those who completed their imprisonments. Prisoners are subjects to torture of officers and aggressive inmates, they claimed.

Vu Quoc Ngu: Vietnamese Mother Informed About Her Son Death in Prison After 16 Months

Dân trí: Vào tù thăm con mới biết con đã chết hơn 16 tháng

—————————-

Vietnam Pro-gov’t Activists Brutally Assault Pro-democracy Advocate, Threatening Family of Hanoi-based Well-known Blogger

A group of about thirty Vietnamese pro-government activists in Hanoi on October 21 brutally attacked a local pro-democracy activist and threatened the family of a well-known blogger.

The group, led by army veteran Tran Nhat Quang and young communist Do Anh Minh gathered in the front of the private house of blogger Nguyen Lan Thang at about 6.30 PM of Wednesday, insulting his family and trying to break the door.

When blogger Nguyen The Trung, an another pro-democracy advocate came to support Mr. Thang’s family, the pro-government activists stumped on him and beat him, causing a number of injuries on his body.

Trung said a number of the thugs attacked him while other’s filmed the assault with high-quality cameras. Minh, who is the secretary of the Ho Chi Minh Youth Communist Union in Dien Bien Phu ward, Ba Dinh district was the most active attackers, the victim claimed.

After knocking down Trung on the ground and shouting on the street, the pro-communism activists left the scene. They also threatened to come back for other attacks.

The incident occurred few days after Quang called on other pro-government forces to beat blogger Thang for “insulting” Ho Chi Minh, the communist leader and founder of the communist Vietnam.

Outspoken blogger Thang said he has not been distorting Uncle Ho but trying to unveil true information about the communist leader, who is responsible for the deaths of millions of Vietnamese soldiers and civilians during the Vietnam War which ended in 1975 with the invasion of the southern region by the communist side.

Quang and Minh are well-known pro-communism supporters in Hanoi. They have organized a number of attacks against local human rights defenders and political dissidents.

Vu Quoc Ngu: Vietnam Pro-gov’t Activists Brutally Assault Pro-democracy Advocate, Threatening Family of Hanoi-based Well-known Blogger

————————–

Vietnam Detains Democracy Activist for ‘Reactionary’ Ties

Authorities in Vietnam detained and later released a democracy activist as she tried to enter the country from neighboring Laos, with state media claiming she maintains ties to “reactionary” organizations banned by the government and had earlier been forbidden from traveling abroad.

Nguyen Thi Phi, 56, was taken into custody on October 17 by Vietnamese border control officers while passing through the Cau Treo checkpoint from Laos into Vietnam’s Ha Tinh province, state media has reported.

Phi had been “prohibited” from leaving Vietnam and was not in possession of a passport, media said, but had illegally traveled to Cambodia in August through the Moc Bai checkpoint in Vietnam’s Tay Ninh province before continuing on to Thailand, where she had previously lived.

Vietnam’s media said police in Ha Tinh searched Phi’s laptop and an external hard drive and found “several documents proving her relationship with reactionary people both inside and outside Vietnam.” Included in the documents were articles promoting the activities of Viet Tan, pro-democracy party banned in the country.

On Thursday, Phi posted a message to her Facebook account saying that police had released her but confiscated her computer and hard drive, and that she was able to communicate online only by visiting an internet café. She did not specify when she had been set free.

Meanwhile, Viet Tan spokesman Hoang Tu Duy denied that Phi had any connection to his party. He reaffirmed that Viet Tan’s mission is to promote the democratization of Vietnam in a nonviolent manner.

RFA: Vietnam Detains Democracy Activist For ‘Reactionary’ Ties

———————————————-

Police in Southern Vietnam Harass Independent Journalist

On October 21, Mr. Nguyen Thien Nhan, a member of the Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam (IJAVN), was summoned by the police in the southern province of Binh Duong to meet security officers in police station to work on his membership of the organization.

This is the second order of the local police, said Mr. Nhan, who has a number of articles posted on IJAVN’s website to criticize the government’s policies.

In September, he was fired by an employer who was pressured by the local police.

Mr. Nhan said the police’s most recent move is related to his articles against China. Vietnam has strived to silence local anti-China activists three weeks ahead of the scheduled visit of President Xi Jinping to the Southeast Asian nation.

VBTN: Công an Bình Dương sách nhiễu hội viên Hội NBĐL vì ”tham gia IJAVN” hay do phản đối Tập Cận Bình?

————————- Oct 23———————-

Vietnam Pro-gov’t Supporters Attack Wife of Well-known Blogger in Hanoi-based Kindergarten

A group of Vietnamese pro-government supporters on Friday afternoon assaulted Mrs. Le Bich Vuong, the wife of Hanoi-based blogger and photographer Nguyen Lan Thang afternoon of Friday when the couple were in a local kindergarten to pick up their baby.

Dozens of pro-communism supporters gathered in the gate of the kindergarten where the two-year baby of the couple is sent, and when Mrs. Vuong came, they brutally beat her and insulted the young mother under witness of many babies.

They also disseminated handbills which contain untrue information about blogger Thang and other pro-democracy activists, and shouted loudly before leaving the scene.

Two days ago, in late evening of October 21, the same group went to the private house of Mr. Thang in Dong Da district to threat his family. They brutally attacked Nguyen The Trung, a democracy advocate who came to support Thang’s family, causing severe injuries on the victim’s body.

Trung said a number of the thugs attacked him while other’s filmed the assault with high-quality cameras. Do Anh Minh, who is the secretary of the Ho Chi Minh Youth Communist Union in Dien Bien Phu ward, Ba Dinh district was the most active attackers, the victim claimed.

Some observers said security agents were among the pro-government group.

Later, the pro-government activists, led by Minh and army veteran Tran Nhat Quang, posted the video in which they insulted and beat Trung, on the Internet.

Thang and Trung reported the incident to the local police, which are unlikely to carry out investigation on the case.

The incident occurred few days after Quang called on other pro-government forces to beat blogger Thang for “insulting” Ho Chi Minh, the communist leader and founder of the communist Vietnam.

Outspoken blogger Thang said he has not been distorting Uncle Ho but trying to unveil true information about the communist leader, who is responsible for the deaths of millions of Vietnamese soldiers and civilians during the Vietnam War which ended in 1975 with the invasion of the southern region by the communist side.

Thang and Trung are among numerous Hanoi-based activists who have participated in a number of demonstrations in the capital city to protest China’s violations of the country’s sovereignty in the East Sea. They have posted many articles on their Facebook pages to demand for human rights as well as support victims of miscarriage of justice nationwide.

On the other side, Quang and Minh are well-known pro-communism activists in Hanoi. They have organized a number of attacks against local human rights defenders and political dissidents.

The duo was the key figures in anti-protest movement in Hanoi. They led others in disturbing patriotic demonstrations in which people commemorated the fallen soldiers in the war against the Chinese invasions in the six northernmost provinces in 1979 and Truong Sa (Spratlys) in 1988.

Quang and Minh are among online activists who are posting articles to protect the ruling communist party’s policies and spread wrong information against local political dissidents and human rights advocates.

The duo and their comrades are receiving supports from the communist government and authorities in the capital city to carry out assignments, some sources said.

Recently, Hanoi’s authorities honored Minh for his pro-government activities.

Ho Dac Loi, the  communist propaganda chief in Hanoi has admitted that the local authorities are financing around 80,000 pro-government activists who are assigned to post online articles to propagandizing communism and distorting pro-democracy fighters.

Meanwhile, security forces in the central province of Nghe An continue to harass former political prisoner Tran Duc Thach. Poet and writer Thach said in recent days, police have thrown bricks and stones at his private house in Dien Chau district, threatening him and his wife and causing serious damage to his house’s roof. One week earlier, on October 15, plainclothes security agents barbarically beat him, broke his motorbike and robbed his bag with two smart phones inside when he traveled near his village.

The communists have ruled Vietnam for decades and vowed to keep the country under a one-party regime. Their government has strived not to allow forming of opposition party.

Along with arresting and putting in prison a number of political dissidents and human rights advocates, Vietnam’s government has deployed pro-communism activists, plainclothes agents and criminals to assault peaceful human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists.

The Vietnamese security forces have tightened political control several months ahead of the ruling communist party’s National Congress.

Vu Quoc Ngu: Vietnam Pro-gov’t Supporters Attack Wife of Well-known Blogger in Hanoi-based Kindergarten

—————-

Another Pro-democracy Activist in Hanoi Attacked by Gov’t Supporters This Week

Hanoi-based pro-democracy blogger Ly Quang Son, a member of the Brotherhood of Democracy,  has reported that he was brutally attacked by a Vietnamese government supporter last night [October 23] due to the victim’s posts on his Facebook page.

The attacker, a younger brother of the owner of the room Mr. Son is renting, kicked the victim on his neck and head, and used a sword to attack him. Son managed to avoid the deadly attacks, however, he still suffered a slight injury in his fingers.

During the attack, the thug said he is angry with articles of Son which criticize the communist government on its poor socio-economic management, human rights violations across the nation, and weak response to China’s violations of the country’s sovereignty in the East Sea.

The attacker has threatened to kill Son, and said the communist government will “kill other government critics” to protect the regime.

Informed about the incident, local police came but they took no actions against the attacker but told the victim to move out of the room for which he already paid fees in advance.

Son, a student in a university in Hanoi, is a member of the Brotherhood for Democracy, an unsanctioned organization fighting for multi-party democracy in Vietnam.

Mr. Son is the four victim of increasing violence of the Hanoi-based pro-government activists against local political dissidents and human rights advocates this week.

On October 21 and October 23, communist government supporters in Hanoi brutally attacked Nguyen The Trung, Nguyen Lan Thang and his wife Le Bich Vuong who have posted articles which aims to promote human rights and democracy. You can read more about the two consecutive assaults here:

http://www.vietnamhumanrightsdefenders.net/…/vietnam-pro-g…/

and: http://www.vietnamhumanrightsdefenders.net/…/vietnam-pro-g…/.

Communists have ruled Vietnam for decades, and vow to keep the country under an one-party regime. The communist government has not tolerated criticism, using controversial articles of the country’s Penal Code to suppress local dissent.

Along arresting and imprisoning political dissidents and human rights defenders, Vietnam’s government has deployed secret agents, pro-government activists and criminals to assault government critics.

The list of the victims suffering from the government-assisting attacks includes Nguyen Chi Tuyen, Tran Thi Nga, Pham Minh Huong, Nguyen Lan Thang, Nguyen The Trung, Pham Minh Hoang, Nguyen Tuong Thuy, Trinh Anh Tuan, Trinh Ba Phuong, Chu Manh Son and Truong Van Dung.

Vu Quoc Ngu: Another Pro-democracy Activist in Hanoi Attacked by Gov’t Supporters This Week

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HCM City Police Stops Probing against Local Blogger

The police investigation agency in Ho Chi Minh City on October 21 decided to stop an investigation against blogger Hong Le Tho, the owner of Nguoi Lot Gach blog.

The blogger was detained in late 2014 on charge of conducting anti-state propaganda.

His release was taken one day after the police in Vietnam’s biggest economic hub suspended its investigation of blogger Nguyen Quang Lap, the owner of Que Choa blog.

RFA: Vì sao đình chỉ điều tra blogger Hồng Lê Thọ?

Blogger Hồng Lệ Thọ nhận quyết định đình chỉ điều tra

============  Oct 24============

Vietnam President Urged to Stop Execution of Unfairly Tried Le Van Manh

The London-based non-governmental human rights organization Amnesty International (AI) has called on Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang to immediately stop the planned execution of Le Van Manh, who was is alleged to be responsible for the 2005 rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl in Thanh Hoa province.

The letter dated October 23 and signed by Director Champa Patel of the AI’s South East Asia and Pacific Regional Office, was sent to President Sang and Deputy Prime Minister cum Minister of Foreign Affair Pham Binh Minh three days to the planned execution of the 33-year-old man who claimed that he was forced to make coerced confession.

In its letter, the AI expressed its concerns over the case, saying it received reports that Mr. Manh was tortured in police custody before “confessing” to the crime and that he did not receive adequate and effective legal representation, resulting in his decision following his conviction to represent himself before the Court of Appeal.

The AI reaffirmed that it opposes the death penalty unconditionally, in all cases without exception, regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime, the guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the individual, or the method used by the state to carry out the execution.

The AI said the death penalty is the ultimate, irreversible denial of human rights. It violates the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the right to be free from cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. When a death sentence is imposed following a trial which does not meet international law and standards on fair trial, including the standards contained in Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Vietnam is a party, it violates international law.

Mr. Manh was arrested on April 20, 2005, one month after the murder of the neighbor girl and police accused him of committing the sin without any evidence. Manh’s younger brother, Le Van Cuong, a ten-grade-class student was also detained.

Despite lacking of solid evidences against Manh, three hearings imposed the capital punishment against him and four appeals upheld the sentence.

Prominent human rights lawyer Tran Vu Hai, director of the Hanoi-based Tran Vu Hai Lawyer Co., said Mr. Manh’s case is similar to the case of Huynh Van Nen who was accused of committing a murder in the central province of Binh Thuan as in both cases, police have no solid evidence against the suspects who complained that they made coerced confession due to police torture.

On October 22, Mr. Nen was released after 17 years and five months in prison. He was arrested in 1998 and two years later, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for allegation of killing Le Thi Bong in Tan Minh commune, Ham Tan district.

Mr. Nen may receive compensation for being wrongly sentenced, lawyer Hai said, adding Mr. Manh will not have this luck if the Vietnamese authorities continue their planned execution on Monday [October 26].

In the past ten years, Mr. Manh’s family has sent thousands of petitions to many state agencies to complain for the wrong sentence against him, however, they received no responses.

In the one-party Vietnam, police torture is systemic while the judges often rely on confessions without adjusting whether the confessions are coerced or not, local human rights lawyers said.

State media has reported a number of cases of miscarriages of justice, in which the accused were freed after spending years in prison thanks to the voluntary confessions of people who committed the crimes.

Nguyen Thanh Chan from the northern province of Bac Giang was released last year after serving ten years in prison. Chan, who was wrongly sentenced to life imprisonment in a murder case, received a compensation of VND7.2 billion ($322,000).

Earlier this month, two police officers Nguyen Hoang Quan and Trieu Tuan Hung in the Mekong Delta province of Soc Trang were imprisoned for torturing seven suspects in a murder case. The suspects said they were forced to make coerced confession after being brutally beaten by the two officers. They were proven innocent after the real murders voluntarily came to police station to confess their crime.

Vu Quoc Ngu: Amnesty International Calls on Vietnam President to Stop Execution of Unfairly Tried Le Van Manh

======= Oct 25==========

Prisoner of Conscience Nguyen Van Lia Completes 54-month Imprisonment

Hoa Hao Buddhist follower Nguyen Van Lia, 75, was released on October 24 after he completed 54-month imprisonment.

Mr. Lia, who was jailed for religious freedom, said the living conditions in prisons are very severe while prison’s authorities treat inmates inhumanely.

Along with bad food and hygiene, prison’s authorities have used criminal inmate to suppress prisoners of conscience, he said.

He vows to fight for religious freedom after coming home. He also thanks local activists for paying attentions to his case.

RFA: Tù nhân tôn giáo Nguyễn Văn Lía mãn án tù

Tâm tình của nhân lương tâm Nguyễn Văn Lía sau khi mãn hạn tù

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

HCM City Suspends Demolition of Catholic Church Facility in Thu Thiem

Authorities in Ho Chi Minh City on October 25 have ordered to suspend demolition of Catholic Church school facility in Thu Thiem.

The move came after they met strong protest from the church and thousands of followers as well as activists nationwide and international community.

On October 22-24, the authorities in District 2 deployed numerous police officers and militia with heavy machineries to destroy the facility belonging to the local church in a bid to develop an urban project.

Shortly after the country’s reunification, the authorities asked to use the church school facility for class rooms for local residents, and pledged to return it to the church if they remove class rooms in other places.

Recently, the district authorities planned to build Thu Thiem urban area which included the land on which the facility is located. They removed class rooms but did not return the facility to the church.

The church and its followers have protected the move, patrolling non-stop in surrounding areas to block the demolition.

BBC: ‘Ngưng phá’ cơ sở tôn giáo ở Thủ Thiêm

Các sơ tiếp tục đấu tranh dù đã ngưng tháo dỡ cơ sở Dòng Mến Thánh Giá Thủ Thiêm