November 9, 2015
Vietnam Human Rights Defenders’ Weekly November 2-8, 2015: Vietnam Brutally Cracks Down on Anti-China Demonstrations during President Xi’s Visit
Defenders’ Weekly | Nov 08, 2015
Hundreds of Vietnamese participated in demonstrations in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City for three consecutive days on November 3-5 to protest the state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Security forces violently suppressed the patriotic rallies, brutally beating many people and detaining dozens others.
On November 3, human rights lawyers Tran Thu Nam and Le Van Luan visited the family of Do Dang Du, who was brutally beaten to death while in police detention in the capital city of Hanoi. After leaving the house of Du’s family, the two lawyers were brutally beaten by masked thugs in Dong Phuong Yen commune, Chuong My district. The victims recognized one of the attackers as a local police officer.
In response to the assault of the two lawyers, the Vietnam Bar Federation has urged Hanoi’s authorities to launch an investigation on the case to bring the attackers to the court.
Authorities in the central province of Nghe An, the hometown of late President Ho Chi Minh, continue to harass a local political dissident, threatening him and his family by throwing stones and bricks at his private house all days and nights. Police have refused to take measure to protect the family of Mr. Tran DucThach, who is former prisoner of conscience.
Police torture continues to occur in many localities. Nguyen Duc Phu, a school boy in the central province of Quang Binh, was brutally beaten by local policemen who attacked him by mistake while chasing a criminal. Meanwhile, Nguyen Quoc Tinh, 17, from the southernmost province of Ca Mau died in a police detention facility four days ahead of the scheduled trial against him on the charge of stealing a motorbike and his friend’s cell phone.
And many other important news
Former Prisoner of Conscience Duong Kim Khai Detained
On November 1, Ho Chi Minh City police detained Pastor Duong Kim Khai to the People’s Committee building in Linh Trung ward, Thu Duc district without giving reasons.
At 7 am, hundreds of police officers, plainclothes agents and militia blocked Pastor Than Van Truong’s private residence where Pastor Khai is temporarily staying.
Pastor Khai, a former prisoner of conscience, was held until late evening of the same day.
In 2010, he was arrested and charged with anti-state activities under Article 79 of the country’s Penal Code. He was sentenced to five years in jail and another five years under house arrest.
Released on August 10 this year, he has no place to live since his residence was confiscated.
Hanoi Human Rights Lawyers Beaten by Thugs When Visiting Family of Boy Murdered in Detention
Thugs and security agents in Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi have brutally assaulted human rights lawyers Tran Thu Nam and Le Van Luan and robbed Luan’s cell phone when the duo visited the family of Do Dang Du, the boy beaten to death during detention last month, local media reported Tuesday.
The lawyers said they were attacked by six masked thugs and two unmaskedindividuals when they went to Du’s family in Dong Cuu village, Dong Phuong Yen commune, Chuong My district on November 3 to provide legal assistance for the family in seeking justice for the boy who died on October 10 due to severe injuries he suffered during detention in the Hanoi-based Xa La detention facility.
Mr. Nam, who was bloodied in his face by the attack, said he recognized one of the attackers as a policeman in the commune.
The preliminary medical checking showed that Nam’s nose was broken and his eyes were also injured. He will undergo further medical test to check whether his brain was affected by the attacks. Lawyer Luan also suffered a number of injuries on his face and body.
Mr. Phan Trung Hoai, vice president of the Vietnam Bar Federation said he contacted a senior official of the Ministry of Public Security and a deputy chief of the Hanoi Police Department on the attack and the two pledged to launch an investigation on the case. Mr. Hoai also said the federation will send a letter to relevant agencies to report the case and demand them to take proper measures to protect lawyers.
The Hanoi Bar Federation has sent lawyer Tran Dinh Trien to the scene, lawyer Tran Vu Hai announced. Hai said many Vietnamese lawyers have expressed their concerns on the assault against their colleagues.
Prominent blogger Truong Duy Nhat, who is a former prisoner of conscience, said in his blog that the attack against lawyers in the capital city in broad daylight is unacceptable, especially when the ruling communist party is preparing for its National Congress slated in early 2016.
The attack was made one day after Major General Nguyen Duc Chung, head of the city’s Police Department, was elected to become one of four deputy secretaries of the Hanoi Communist Party Committee for the 2015-2020 period. Chung is expected to be appointed as the chairman of the city’s People’s Committee in mid 2016.
The assault against Nam and Luan is among a series of recent attacks against local government critics and human rights activists.
In the evenings of October 21 and 23, government supporters in Hanoi attacked brutally beatactivist Nguyn Lan Thang’s wife Le Bich Vuong and social activist Nguyen The Trung, his friend.
In the evening of October 30, thugs, with support of the Hanoi police, attacked local activists when they held a party in a restaurant in Dong Da district to mark the 4th anniversary of the founding of No-U Football Club, a soccer team of patriotic activists in the capital city.
In late October, thugs in Dong Phuong Yen also beat blogger Truong Dung and other activists when they visited Du’s family to share sympathy over his death.
Several days ago, lawyer Nam shared on his Facebook page that the Investigation Agency of the Hanoi police has carried out a number of acts which aim to halt his efforts to help Du’s family to seek justice and find the real causes of the boy’s death. Nam and Luan are among the lawyers who are voluntarily providing legal consultation for the family.
Last week, Minister of Public Security General Tran Dai Quang, who is expected to be promoted to one of the country’s key leadership posts in 2016, demanded the Hanoi police to launch an investigation on Du’s death.
So far, the communist government has remained silent on the recent attacks against local dissidents and human rights defenders. It also has no plan to investigate the incidents to bring the attackers to the court.
Vietnam has been ruled by communists who vow to keep the country under a one-party regime. The communist government has not tolerated criticism, arresting and suppressing those who demand multi-party democracy and human rights protection.
Amnesty International: URGENT ACTIONDEMAND RELEASE OF BLOGGER AND ASSISTANT
Blogger Nguyen Huu Vinh and his assistant Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy have been held without trial in Viet Nam since May 2014, in excess of the time allowed under national law. Following a visit in late October by his family and lawyer, there are increasing concerns for Nguyen Huu Vinh’s health and conditions of detention.
Nguyen Huu Vinh co-founded the popular blog, Anh Ba Sam in 2007, which is known for its anti-China posts and criticism of the government. He and his assistant, Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy, were arrested in May 2014 under Article 258 (2) of the Penal Code for “abusing democratic freedoms”. This provides for up to seven years’ imprisonment. The indictment was issued in February 2015 setting out charges in connection with two other political blogs – Dan Quyen (Citizens’ Rights) and Chep Su Viet (Writing Vietnam’s History), both of which were critical of government policies and officials, and have been shut down by the authorities. The indictment states that the two blogs had more than 3.7 million page views.
According to national law, suspects charged under Article 258 (2) can initially be held in pre-trial detention for up to six months, and following indictment, held in temporary detention for a maximum of a further 90 days for trial preparation. In this case however, after 17 months in detention, no trial date has been set.
Nguyen Huu Vinh’s family have petitioned the authorities for his release and for that of Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy, without response. In late October, Nguyen Huu Vinh told his visiting family and lawyer that he was suffering from a skin condition with a red rash covering his body, for which he has not received adequate medical treatment.
Nguyen Huu Vinh is a former policeman and son of a former high-ranking government official and member of the ruling Communist Party of Viet Nam, who was Ambassador to the former Soviet Union. He is married with two children. Little is known about his assistant Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy, who is described in the indictment as divorced with two children. Nguyen Huu Vinh and Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy are prisoners of conscience, detained solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression.
Please write immediately in Vietnamese, English or your own language:
Demand the authorities release Nguyen Huu Vinh and Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy immediately and unconditionally as they are prisoners of conscience detained solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression;
Urging the authorities to ensure that both detainees have immediate access to appropriate medical care and that they are treated in accordance with the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 16 DECEMBER 2015 TO:
- Minister of Public SecurityGen Tran Dai Quang
Ministry of Public Security
44 Yet Kieu Street, Hoan Kiem district
Ha Noi, VIET NAM
Online contact form:
- Minister of Foreign AffairsPham Binh Minh
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
1 Ton That Dam Street, Ba Dinh district
Ha Noi, VIET NAM
Fax: + 844 3823 1872
And copies to:
- Minister of JusticeHa Hung Cuong
Ministry of Justice
60 Tran Phu Street, Ba Dinh district
Ha Noi, VIET NAM
Fax: + 844 627 3959
Also send copies to:
Ambassador H.E. Pham Quang Vinh, Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
1233 20th St NW Suite #400, Washington DC 20036
Fax: 1 202 861 0917 I Phone: 1 202 861 0737 I Email: email@example.com
Please let us know if you took action so that we can track our impact! EITHER send a short email to firstname.lastname@example.org with “UA 251/15” in the subject line, and include in the body of the email the number of letters and/or emails you sent, OR fill out this short online form to let us know how you took action. Thank you for taking action! Please check with the AIUSA Urgent Action Office if taking action after the appeals date.
URGENT ACTIONDEMAND RELEASE OF BLOGGER AND ASSISTANT- ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Viet Nam is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which guarantees the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. However, these rights are severely restricted in law and practice in Viet Nam. Vaguely-worded articles in the national security section of Viet Nam’s 1999 Penal Code are frequently used to criminalize peaceful dissenting views or activities. Those at risk include people advocating for peaceful political change, criticizing government policies, or calling for respect for human rights. Article 258 (Abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the State, the legitimate rights and interests of organizations and/or citizens), is frequently used to detain, prosecute and imprison dissidents for their peaceful activism, including bloggers, labour rights and land rights activists, political activists, religious followers, human rights defenders and social justice activists, and even song writers.
Prison conditions in Viet Nam are harsh, with inadequate food and health care that falls short of the minimum requirements set out in the UN Standard Minimum Rules and other international standards. Prisoners of conscience have been held in solitary confinement as a punishment or in isolation for lengthy periods. They have also been subjected to ill-treatment, including beatings by other prisoners with no intervention by prison guards. Some prisoners of conscience are frequently moved from one detention facility to another, often without their families being informed. Several prisoners of conscience have undertaken hunger strikes in protest at abusive treatment and poor conditions of detention.
Authorities in Vietnam’s Nghe An Continue Harassment of Local Political Dissident
Authorities in Vietnam’s central province of Nghe An have been constantly harassing a local political dissident, terrorizing his family by throwing bricks and stones at his house, the victim has complained.
Mr. Tran Duc Thach, 63-year old writer and poet, said the lives of his family’s members are at risk as government-backed thugs and plainclothes security agents have carried out a number of attacks on his house with big bricks and stones since October 22, breaking doors, windows and the roof.
The assaults took place during daytime and at night, said Mr. Thach, who is a former prisoner of conscience jailed for his articles criticizing communist socio-economic policies.
He informed local authorities about the assaults, however, they refused to intervene, saying he must catch the attackers red-handed first.
Nghe An is the home province of Ho Chi Minh, the Vietnamese communist leader and the founder of the communist state.
The rains of stones and bricks began one week after Mr. Thach was brutally beaten and robbed by a group of thugs who are suspected to be security agents.
At mid day on October 15, when he was riding his motorbike on the way to his home in Dien Tan commune, Dien Chau district, he was stopped by three thugs who then attacked him and broke his motorbike. Finally, they took his bag with two smart phones inside and ran away.
During the attack, Mr. Thach shouted “Robbery, robbery”, but a boy nearby said “They are police officers, not robbers” and the attackers also beat the boy, Thach told his friends.
The assault left the pro-democracy activist with a number of injuries on his face and arms. He had to go to hospital for treatment.
Mr. Thach is a former soldier of the Vietnam People’s Army, participating in a number of brutal battles against the army of the Vietnam Republic supported by the U.S. during the Vietnam War. He realized early on the brutality of the war between the two Vietnamese sides, and the suffering of civilians in the southern region due to attacks of the Viet Cong, another name of the communist army.
Due to his writings describing attacks of the Viet Cong against civilians during the Vietnam War, he was expelled from the army. In 2008, he was arrested for his articles promoting multi-party democracy and demanding for freedom of expression, together with other activists Nguyen Xuan Nghia, Nguyen Kim Nhan, Nguyen Anh Tuc, Nguyen Manh Son and Ngo Quynh.
The communist government tried him secretly in the same year, found him guilty of carrying out anti-state propaganda under Article 88 of the country’s Penal Code and sentenced him to three years in jail and additional three years under house arrest.
After his release in late August 2011, he has continued to fight for human rights, democracy, and independence of writers, writing articles to criticize the Vietnamese communist government’s poor management in socio-economic development and violations of human rights as well as weak response to China’s violations of the country’s sovereignty in the East Sea.
His health has worsened due to the inhumane treatment in prisons. Last year, he was under long-term treatment in the Hanoi-based Bach Mai Hospital for lung diseases partly caused by severe living conditions during imprisonment.
He has been constantly harassed by authorities in NgheAn province, and particularly DienChau district who have strived not to allow him to work to earn a living and take care of his two small children.
Vietnam has been ruled by communists for decades who have vowed to maintain the country under a one-party regime. The communist government has intensified its crackdown against local dissidents and human rights activists several months ahead of the party’s National Congress slated in the first quarter of 2016.
Along with arresting a number of political dissidents and charging them with anti-state allegations under controversial articles of the country’s Penal Code, Vietnam has deployed a new tactics: using plainclothes agents or thugs to brutally attack local activists.
A number of pro-democracy activists and human rights defenders, including lawyers Tran Thu Nam and Le Van Luan, bloggers Nguyen Chi Tuyen, Doan Trang, Nguyen Lan Thang and his wife Le Bich Vuong and Truong Minh Tam in Hanoi, Tran Thi Nga and Truong Minh Huong in Ha Nam province, Pham Minh Hoang in Ho Chi Minh City and Chu Manh Son in Nghe An, have been attacked by plainclothes agents and thugs during the past few months.
On October 30, thugs supported by Hanoi police attacked local activists when they held a party in a local restaurant to mark the 4th anniversary of the founding of No-U Football Club, a soccer team of patriotic activists who oppose China’s violations of Vietnamese sovereignty.
In early October, the police in Thai Binh arrested Tran Anh Kim, former political prisoner who completed his six and half years’ imprisonment in January, and accused him of conducting anti-state activities under Article 79 of the Penal Code.
Meanwhile, authorities in Hanoi plan to try Nguyen Viet Dung, the founder and leader of the unsanctioned Republican Party of Vietnam in December. On April 12, Dung was arrested and accused of conducting public disorders after he attended a peaceful protest in the city’s center to condemn the local government’s plan which aimed to chop down 6,700 valuable aged trees in the city’s main streets. His arrest was taken several days after he declared the establishment of the party which fights for multi-party and human rights enhancement in the Southeast Asian nation.
Chinese President Starts Official Visit to Vietnam amid Strong Social Protest
Chinese President and General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party of China Xi Jinping starts his official visit to Vietnam today [Nov. 5] amid strong protest of local activists.
Xi is scheduled to hold talks with General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) Nguyen Phu Trong, President Truong Tan Sang, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Chairman of the National Assembly (NA) Nguyen Sinh Hung to discuss measures to deepen the two communist nations’ comprehensive strategic partnership as well as settle territorial and maritime disputes in the East Sea (South China Sea).
The Chinese president is expected to deliver a speech before the Vietnamese parliament during its ongoing session.
Earlier this week, China’s media reported that the giant neighboris ready to finance Vietnam’s infrastructure projects amid Vietnam’s shortage of financial resources. Vietnam’s government said the state budget has only VND45 trillion ($2.02 billion) for 2016.
Foreign media reported that in recent days, numerous Vietnamese activists have conducted numerous demonstrations in public places in the capital city of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, the biggest economic hub in the Southeast Asian nation. The protestors were seen carrying banners that read “Xi Jinping go away, you are unwelcomed” or “Spratlys and Paracels belong to Vietnam”, islands that are known in Vietnam as Truong Sa and Hoang Sa which China illegally occupies entirely or partly.
In late October, hundreds of Vietnamese activists wrote an open letter to the authorities urging them to rescind the invitation to President Xi.
Anti-China sentiments are still running high in Vietnam, a year after Beijing placed a controversial oil rig in disputed waters, leading to several small maritime confrontations and deadly rioting in mainland Vietnam, which is one of several countries with competing maritime claims with China. Vietnamese are angeredby China’s increased illegal reclamation on the Spratlys.
Police largely left the protesters alone, unlike previous anti-China rallies when protesters were quickly dispersed.
Tran Cong Truc, former head of Vietnam’s Border Affairs Committee, was quoted by the Voice of America as saying that there are widespread calls to boycott Xi’s visit on social media in Vietnam, and he sympathizes with that sentiment.
“But to protect Vietnam’s rights and interest, even though it is tough, Vietnam needs to make full use of all chances to sit down and have talk with Chinese counterpart to find a peaceful solution to the dispute,” Truc said.
Many Vietnamese activists welcomed the U.S.’s sending its warship near China’s man-made islands on Spratly to challenge Beijing’s illegal claim in the sea, the move Hanoi gave a noncommittal response to.
Press Given Rights to Not Unveil News Sources: Vietnam Government
Press agencies in Vietnam would be given the rights to not disclose their news sources to protect their information and to exercise more self-control in all situations amid booming social networks, the Vietnamese government said in the revised draft press law submitted on Nov 4 to the National Assembly (NA), the country’s highest legislative body.
Protecting news sources is important to press agencies in terms of privacy respect and journalism integrity, the state-run Tien Phong newspaper reported, citing the government’s report submitted to the NA.
The revised draft law clarifies both rights and obligations of journalists and head of press agencies in keeping the news sources and disclosure as well.
The move, according to the Ministry of Information and Communications, is aimed at leading the agencies back on track of operation under the guidance of the party and state.
Local observers, however, said that the move indicates tightened censorship on all media which remain under the state’s control.
Following the report, Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Truong Minh Tuan said in an interview with the online Thoi Bao Kinh Te Viet Nam newspaper that the document legalizes citizens’ rights to access information and raise voices within their scopes, noting that rights to freedom of press must not infringe privacy and organizations’ interests.
Mr. Tuan emphasized that all media outlets would not be checked before being printed, aired or posted. The move is a change, he stressed. However, he failed to take into account the fact that all outlets are run by the state or state employees, who are all aware of the propaganda role of the press.
Earlier at a meeting examining the content of the revised draft law, the NA’s Committee for Culture, Education, Youth, Adolescents and Children, said that the document should not stipulate the existence of general information portals to avoid plagiarism.
The move, according to Hanoi-based observers, is also a sign of restrictions.
The Law on Press was issued in 1989, revised in 1999. The latest amendment includes six chapters with 60 articles, including 29 revised ones and 31 new ones.
The latest version, as usual, bans private media.
Vietnam Police Brutally Beat School Boy, Providing No First Aid for Victim
Police in Vietnam’s central province of Quang Binh have barbarically beaten a local school boy, providing no first aid for the victim and leaving him with severe injuries to go home to seek medical emergency, state media has reported.
Nguyen Duc Phu, 16, from Huong Hoa commune, Tuyen Hoa district told reporters of the online newswire VietnamNet that he was attacked by mistake by the communal police on October 31.
At 6.30 PM of the day when he was driving a motorbike to buy a sim card, he was hiton the face. After falling on the road, he was beaten by other people whom he recognized as local policemen led by Dinh Nam Hai, head of the communal police.
The policemen continued beating him until he shouted that they acted mistakenly. The boy has numerous injuries on his body, head and eyes with blood on his face.
Two days later, police came to the family to offer apology, saying they beat him by mistake when they were chasing a criminal.
Phu, a tenth-grade student in a local high school, is under medical treatment in Huong Hoa district’s Central Hospital.
Colonel Tran Quang Hieu, head of the district police, said the local police are investigating the case.
Vietnam Must Allow Independent Grassroots Labor Union under TPP
Vietnam is required to ensure that its workers are allowed to freely unionize and to strike under their own independent labor unions, according to a bilateral agreement on trade and labor relations signed between Vietnam and the U.S. as part of the sweeping Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement recently concluded.
The full TPP text, which was released yesterday [Nov. 5], lays the legal ground for Vietnam to build its own law and practice enabling workers, without distinction, to choose to establish grassroots labor unions through the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor (VGCL), which is currently the sole registered trade union in the country and under the oversight of the ruling communist party, or a competent government body.
“Vietnam shall ensure that the procedures and mechanisms for registering grassroots labor unions are consistent with the labor rights as stated in the [International Labor Organization or ILo] Declaration, including with respect to transparency, the time periods for processing and membership requirements, and without prior authorization or discretion,” according to Clause II Article 2.A.
The article asks Vietnam, which has been criticized by international rights groups for its low wages and weak worker protections, to commit to meet the requirements and procedures for setting up a labor union and undertaking union activities, including the rights to bargain collectively, strike, and conduct labor-related collective activities under the ILO conventions.
Independent labor unions should be allowed to administer their affairs with full autonomy, regardless of the Statutes of Vietnamese Trade Unions, based on Clause II Article 2.B.
The agreement also mandates Vietnam to maintain consistency of other laws, ensuring that no other laws or legal instruments, such as the law on association, are applied or amended to undermine labor union-related activities.
In addition, Vietnam is committed to eliminating the use of forced labor, including debt bondage and child labor.
The Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs must disclose its annual budget, including the extent of practicable disaggregated information on resource allocation and staffing related to the implementation of commitments made in this document, according to Clause IV Article A.
In Chapter 19 on Labor of the full TPP document, there are terms laying out acceptable conditions of work with respect to minimum wages, hours of work, and occupational safety and health. However, there is no specific clause or article stipulating the minimum wage level.
The Pacific Rim trade agreement involves the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Those countries account for nearly 40% of global economic output.
Vietnamese workers have conducted hundreds of strikes every year which are considered illegal under the country’s current law while the state-controlled trade unions have not really protected workers’ rights but taken side of the employers, including foreign investors, human rights defenders said.
Dozens of independent labor rights activists, including Do Thi Minh Hanh, Nguyen Hoang Quoc Hung and Doan Huy Chuong, have been jailed for assisting workers in demanding higher salary and better working conditions.
Hanoi Urged to Probe Thugs Attacking Human Rights Lawyers
The Vietnam Bar Federation has sent a letter to relevant agencies asking for an investigation into the brutal assault by thugs and policemen of human rights lawyers Tran Thu Nam and Le Van Luan on November 3.
The assault against the two lawyers was a serious crime and the attackers should be brought to justice, says the federation in its letter.
The federation asked the minister of public security and the head of the Hanoi police to take proper measures to carry out an investigation in the case to find the real attackers for strict punishment according to the country’s law.
Vietnam Police Brutally Beat Anti-China Activists, Detaining Numerous Protestors
Vietnam’s security forces in the morning of Thursday [Nov. 5] violently suppressed demonstrations against the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping, brutally beating many activists and detaining dozens of others, according to local media.
In Ho Chi Minh City, police barbarically beat many activists, causing severe injuries for anti-China protestors. Facebookers have been spreading pictures of activists bleeding from their injuries. Police also detained around 20 activists.
In Hanoi, dozens of activists gathered in the city’s center to demand the Chinese leader go away. Numerous policemen and plainclothes agents blocked the protestors and later forcibly detained them, put them into a bus that drove in an unknown direction, said other activists.
In recent days ahead of the two-day visit to Hanoi of President Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China, Vietnam’s communist government has tightened security control, putting many local activists under close surveillance.
A number of political dissidents and human rights activists have been brutally assaulted recently, according to state and local media.
On Wednesday, one day ahead of Mr. Xi’s arrival, several anti-China demonstrations occurred in Hanoi and HCM City without being suppressed by local security forces.
During his stay in Hanoi on November 5-6, Mr. Xi is scheduled to hold talks with Vietnamese leaders, including General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong, President Truong Tan Sang and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung to discuss measures to deepen the two communist nations’ comprehensive strategic partnership.
Vietnam and China have overlapping sovereignty claims on Hoang Sa (Paracels) and Truong Sa (Spratlys), the two archipelagos Vietnam has peacefully administered before the 17th century. However, Xi said in Washington during his visit there last month that China has historical evidence of possessing the two groups of islands and reefs.
Recently, China has boosted its reclamation on Truong Sa, building cement islands and military facilities on reefs it violently took over from Vietnam in 1988.
Vietnamese activists have also expressed their disappointment that U.S. President Barack Obama will not visit the country in November. The U.S. is considered the key power for challenging Chinese expansionism in the East Sea.
Vietnamese Parliament Divided over Right to Remain Silent
Members of Vietnam’s legislative body National Assembly (NA) have different opinions on criminal suspects’ right to remain silent and a regulation on the compulsoriness of audio and video recordings during police interrogation, state media has reported.
Speaking at a discussion session of the communist-controlled parliament on the revised Criminal Procedure Code on Nov. 6, Nguyen Van Hien, chairman of the NA’s Judicial Committee, said a report from his committee showed that the majority of legislators agreed that criminal suspects should be afforded the right to remain silent.
However, some lawmakers, especially those from the Ministry of Public Security, expressed their concerns that the regulation will hinder the investigation and affect the prevention of crimes, especially in important cases.
Legislator Pham Truong Dan from the central province of Quang Nam expressed concern over a proposed regulation that will make audio and video recordings compulsory during investigations.
“Every year, investigation agencies have to handle about 100,000 criminal cases with about 160,000 suspects,” he said. “The recording equipment for all cases may cost dozens of billions of dong.”
Legislator Huynh Ngoc Anh from Ho Chi Minh City objected to his opinion, stating that the regulation on recordings, proposed by the Ministry of Public Security, is financially feasible.
Anh suggested allowing some exceptions and only applying the regulation to serious cases in which the suspects claim innocence right from the beginning, suspects claim they are forcibly extorted or subjected to corporal punishment and suspects face harsher punishments of life imprisonment or the death sentence.
Anh also said regulations should adequately cover cases in which there are no recordings, in order to determine how they will be handled in court.
Lawmaker Bui Van Xuyen from the northern province of Thai Binh shared the same opinion, stating that recordings are necessary and prevent wrongdoing during the interrogation, but they are not necessary for all cases because the equipment and human resources are costly.
“To avoid forcible extortion for confessions or corporal punishment during an investigation, it is important to enhance the knowledge and ethics of investigators and prosecutors,” he said.
He suggested making recordings during interrogations without lawyers.
The draft Criminal Procedure Code is slated to come to a vote on Nov. 28, the last day of the ongoing session of the parliament.
Vietnamplus: NA deputies divided over criminal right to silence
Vietnamese Southerner Dies in Detention, Few Days Before Scheduled Trial
A detainee from Vietnam’s southernmost province of Ca Mau died on November 5, few days ahead of a scheduled trial for the accusation of stealing of a motorbike and a cell phone from his friend.
On Thursday, Nguyen Quoc Tinh, 17, was transferred from a detention facility to the Thoi Binh district Healthcare center for emergency but he died before arrival. Earlier, he reportedlyvomited and fell unconscious.
Police conducted an autopsy, however, the results and the causes of his death were not unveiled. His body was handed over to his family for burial.
Three months ago, one of Tinh’s friends reported to the local police that Tinh had borrowed his motorbike but refused to return it to the owner. Tinh was also blamed of taking his friend’s cell phone and sold it for money to go to restaurant. On August 17, Tinh was arrested and charged of stealing the motorbike and the cell phone.
The police said they transferred the case to the court and his trial was scheduled on November 9.
Tinh is among numerous detainees found dead in police stations nationwide. Last month, a 32-year man died in unknown circumstance in the Lam Dong province-based Chi Hoa detention facility.
On October 10, Do Dang Du, 16, died in the Hanoi-based Bach Mai Hospital due to severe injuries he suffered in Xa La detention facility in the capital city. Police said Du was beaten by a cellmate, however, lawyers said the police story on the case is conflicted with many facts.
More than 260 people died in police prisons, detention facilities and police stations nationwide in the 2011-2014 period, according to the Ministry of Public Security. Police said diseases and suicides were the main causes of their deaths, however, families of the victims believe that their relatives died due to police torture.
Torture is systemic in Vietnam where police are the key forces for maintaining the communist regime, according to a recent report of the New York-based Human Rights Watch.
Vietnam ratified the UN Convention on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. However, the issue has remained unsolved. About ten of detainees have died and dozen have suffered severe injuries in police stations since the beginning of this year.
Few policemen have been sentenced with light sentences for torturing or beating to death suspects in criminal cases, human rights defenders said.