Vietnam Human Rights Defenders’ Weekly December 14-20: Human Rights Lawyer Nguyen Van Dai Arrested, Charged with Anti-state Propaganda

Defenders’ Weekly | Dec 20, 2015

Defenders-weekly

On December 16, one day after Vietnam and the EU conducted 5th Human Rights Dialogue, the Ministry of Public Security arrested pro-democracy lawyer and human rights activist Nguyen Van Dai, accusing him of conducting anti-state propaganda under Article 88 of the country’s Penal Code.

Police announced that Mr. Dai, who was a former political prisoner, will be held in four months for investigation. If convicted, he will face imprisonment of between three and twelve years in jail.

Police also detained Ms. Le Thu Ha, a member of the Brotherhood for Democracy which was founded by Mr. Dai several years ago. In May, Ms. Ha was barred from taking an international flight to attend a human rights meeting in Stockholm.

In response to the arrest, the EU, the London-based Amnesty International, the New York-based Human Rights Watch, the Stockholm-based Civil Rights Defenders, many legislators and officials from the U.S. and other countries have expressed their concerns over the arrest, asking the Vietnamese government to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Dai and drop all charges against him.

On December 15, Vietnam and the EU held the 5th Human Rights Dialogue in Hanoi. In its press release on a day later, the 28-nation bloc raised the issues of restrictions to freedom of expression, freedom of the media and freedom of assembly. It reiterated its serious concerns about harassment, arrest and detention of human rights defenders, activists and bloggers, especially Mr. Nguyen Huu Vinh (aka Anh Ba Sam) and his colleague Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy.

On Monday, the People’s Court in Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi found Nguyen Viet Dung, the founder and leader of unsanctioned Republican Party of Vietnam who was arrested on April 12 after participating in a peaceful demonstration on environmental issues, guilty of causing public disorders and sentenced him to 15 months in prison in the first hearing which failed to meet international standards of fair trial.

Vietnamese activists nationwide on December 14 welcomed two political dissidents as patriotic music compositor Viet Khang completed his four-year sentence while police in Ho Chi Minh City freed Nguyen Phuong Uyen, a young pro-democracy activists detained illegally by the city’s police one day earlier.

And many other important news

================= Dec 14================

Vietnam: No More “Empty Promises” at EU Rights Dialogue

Human Rights Watch– The European Union should press for concrete and measurable improvements on human rights at its upcoming bilateral dialogue with Vietnam, Human Rights Watch said today. Essential reforms include ending politically motivated trials and convictions, the release of political prisoners, guarantees on freedom of association and labor rights, and religious freedom. The outcome of the dialogue in Hanoi on December 15, 2015, should be made public.

“The EU should use this opportunity to make it loud and clear to Vietnam that friendly trade relations will be accompanied by increasing demands on human rights,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The EU should insist that Vietnam agree to clear and verifiable benchmarks for progress, or Vietnam will simply make empty promises.”

In a submission to the EU prior to the dialogue, Human Rights Watch urged the EU to press Vietnam to immediately release all political prisoners and end restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association, and religion, and take steps to end attacks on critics while ending the scourge of police brutality.

In November, Police General Tran Dai Quang publicly admitted that within the last three years the government had “received, arrested, and dealt with cases involving 2,680 people who violated national security” and during the same period noted that “opposition persons” had illegally established more than 60 human rights and democracy groups.

Although Vietnam has decreased the number of political trials and convictions in 2015 in order to gain favor during negotiations with the United States over the Trans-Pacific Partnership and with the EU over the Vietnam–EU Free Trade Agreement, the country still continues to hold at least 130 political prisoners.

Other peaceful critics are simply being held without trial, such as bloggers Nguyen Huu Vinh (known as Anh Ba Sam), Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy, and Nguyen Dinh Ngoc (known as Nguyen Ngoc Gia), who were arrested in 2014 for their pro-democracy statements and remain in police custody. Activists who were arrested in 2015 included Nguyen Viet Dung, Dinh Tat Thang, Tran Anh Kim, and Nguyen Huu Quoc Duy.

In an apparent change of tactics from arrests to intimidation and violence, assaults against bloggers and rights activists worsened significantly during 2015. In every month pro-democracy campaigners have reported being attacked by plainclothes agents or police. No one involved in the assaults has been held accountable. In November 2015, the police of Dong Nai province detained and assaulted labor activist Do Thi Minh Hanh for helping workers at Yupoong Company to exercise their rights. At least 45 other bloggers and rights activists have been assaulted by thugs on various occasions. They include Mennonite Pastor Nguyen Hong Quang, Pham Doan Trang, Nguyen Tuong Thuy, J.B Nguyen Huu Vinh, Tran Thi Nga, Nguyen Chi Tuyen, Trinh Anh Tuan, Dinh Quang Tuyen, Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, Chu Manh Son, Dinh Thi Phuong Thao, Ta Tri Hai, and Tran Minh Nhat.

Most recently, on December 6, 2015, a group of rights activists including former political prisoner Nguyen Van Dai, Ly Quang Son, Vu Duc Minh, and a man named Thang, were attacked and beaten in Nghe An province by a group of about 20 men in civilian clothes and wearing surgical masks. Earlier that day, Nguyen Van Dai gave a talk about the constitution and basic human rights to an audience of about 70 people at the house of former political prisoner Tran Huu Duc at Nam Loc commune, Nam Dan district, Nghe An. The talk was among a series of events that Vietnamese activists carried out to celebrate Human Rights Day.

“The EU should tell the Vietnamese government that they won’t fall for the trick of replacing political arrests with political beatings,” said Adams. “Vietnam should understand that resorting to violence will simply make the government look like thugs to the rest of the world.”

HRW: Vietnam: No More “Empty Promises” at EU Rights Dialogue

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Vietnam Patriotic Music Compositor Viet Khang Freed, Phuong Uyen Also Released

Defend the Defenders: Vietnamese activists nationwide on December 14 welcomed two political dissidents as patriotic music compositor Viet Khang completed his four-year sentence while police in Ho Chi Minh City freed Nguyen Phuong Uyen, a young pro-democracy activists detained illegally by the city’s police.

Viet Khang, or Vo Minh Tri, was arrested two times in 2011 for allegation of “conducting anti-state propaganda” after he wrote two songs which encourage patriotisms and criticize the government’s suppression against anti-China protestors, and participated in a patriotic organization called “Patriotic Youths”.

In October 2012, the communist government sentenced him to four years in jail and additional two years under house arrest according to Article 88 of the country’s Penal Code.

The Vietnamese government maintained the imprisonment against him although more than 150,000 people worldwide joined a petition sent to the U.S.’s President Barack Obama to ask him to pressure Hanoi on the case.

During his imprisonment, his two song “Việt Nam tôi đâu?/Where is my Vietnam?” and “Anh la ai?/Who are you?” have been cheered by millions of Vietnamese people who opposite the Chinese violations of the country’s sovereignty in the East Sea as well as disagree with the weak response of the communist government in Hanoi to the Chinese expansionism.

On Monday, Mr. Khang was welcomed by dozens of activists who accompanied him to his home town of My Tho in the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang.

Vietnam is still holding patriotic music Tran Vu Anh Binh, who was sentenced to six years in prison in the same case with Viet Khang. Binh was also charged of composing patriotic songs and participating in the unsanctioned “Patriotic Youths”.

On the same day, police in Ho Chi Minh City also released Phuong Uyen after the one-day detention without warranty.

During lunch time of Saturday [December 13], security force blocked the cafeteria of Nguyen Chieu Anh in District 1 and arrested Phuong Uyen, who was sitting in the cafeteria with her friends. The cafeteria owner was also summoned to the local police station for questioning.

The detention was aimed to distract Vietnamese activists from the trial of Nguyen Viet Dung, the founder and leader of the unsanctioned Republican Party of Vietnam in Hanoi on the next day, said observers.

For full details of the illegal detention of Phuong Uyen, you can read here: http://www.vietnamhumanrightsdefenders.net/2015/12/13/former-prisoner-conscience-phuong-uyen-detained-hcm-city-local-activists-gather-demand-release/

Meanwhile, local activists reported that security forces in the central province of Thanh Hoa detained local political dissident and former prisoner of conscience Protestant Pastor Nguyen Trung Ton. Nobody knows where Pastor Ton is held and his friends failed to connect him by cell phone.

Since being released in early 2013 after two years in prison, Mr. Ton is a regular subject of local police’s harassment. Last week, he was blocked from going to Hanoi to attend a meeting to mark the International Human Rights Day.

Pastor Ton was arrested in January 2011 for his activities which aimed to promote multi-party democracy and freedom of religions and belief. He was charged of conducting anti-state activities according to Article 88 of the country’s Penal Code.

Currently, Mr. Ton is a senior official of the unsanctioned Brotherhood of Democracy.

RFA: Vietnam Releases Musician Jailed For Politically Sensitive Songs

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Hanoi Court Unfairly Sentences Leader of Unsanctioned Republican Party of Vietnam to 15 Months in Jail

Defend the Defenders: The People’s Court in Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi on December 14 found Nguyen Viet Dung, the founder and leader of unsanctioned Republican Party of Vietnam, guilty of causing public disorders and sentenced him to 15 months in prison in the first hearing which failed to meet international standards of fair trial.

Mr. Dung, 30, an engineer graduated from the prestigious Hanoi University of Science and Technology, was charged of committing public disorder under Article 245 of the country’s Penal Code, nine months after being detained by security forces in Vietnam’s capital city.

During the Monday trial held in Hoan Kiem district’s court, the judges rejected to listen to Dung’s four defending lawyers. They even expelled lawyer Le Van Luan and did not allow the three others to present their statements. The judges did not also respect statements of other witnesses which were in favor of the defendant, so the three lawyers left the courtroom before the trial ended.

The court’s judgment was based only on the fabricated reports of the Hoan Kiem district police, said defending lawyers.

Meanwhile, many activists tried to attend the open court, however, Hanoi’s authorities deployed a large number of police officers, plainclothes agents and militia to block all the roads leading to the courtroom. Police were reported to send thugs to attack activists, knocking down one land petitioner who fell unconscious.

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 which aimed to chop down 6,700 aged valuable trees in some of the city’s main streets.

The police released his friends but kept Dung and accused him of “causing public disorders”. Following Mr. Dung’s arrest, police conducted a search of his home and seized many other items associated with the former Republic of Vietnam.

Blogger Doan Tranh and Tuan Anh, organizers of the green protest said in their statement to the court that Mr. Dung and his friends peacefully attended the demonstration on April 12. However, the court ignored the opinions of environmental activists.

The arrest of Mr. Dung and the heavy sentence against him were made in a bid to suppress his peaceful political activities. In early 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. So far, the party has eight members.

The detention of Mr. Dung has drawn great concern among Vietnamese and international human rights bodies. 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 imprisonment 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.

Vietnam has intensified crackdown against local government critics and human rights activists in recent months ahead of the communist party’s National Congress which is slated in early 2016 to decide the country’s development course and elect the nation’s new leadership for the next five years.

The communist government has used controversial Articles 79, 88 and 258 of the Penal Code as well as other faked charges such as tax evasion and public disorders to stifle local dissents 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.

According to international human rights bodies, Vietnam is imprisoning between 150 and 200 political dissidents, bloggers and human rights activists while Hanoi says it holds no prisoners of conscience but only law violators.

Recently, Minister of Public Security General Tran Dai Quang, who is expected to hold higher position in the 2016-2021 period, labeled 60 unregistered civil societies as “reactionary groups”.

Last week, The People’s Court of Hanoi on December 9 rejected the appeal of land petitioner Vu Thi Hai, who is charged of causing public disorders when she and other land petitioners peacefully protested before the parliament’s building in June. However, the court reduced her sentence from 18 months to 15 months in prison.

Hanoi Court Unfairly Sentences Leader of Unsanctioned Republican Party of Vietnam to 15 Months in Jail

 

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Vietnam Holds Large-scale Anti-protest Drill amid Rising Social Dissatisfaction

Defend the Defenders: Vietnam’s authorities deployed 1,300 commandos, soldiers and police officers to hold a drill aimed at confronting terrorists and protestors, and rescuing hostages in the northern province of Vinh Phuc on Dec 14 amid rising social dissatisfaction.

During the two-hour exercise, led by Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Vietnam People’s Army Lieutenant General Pham Hong, the participants conducted the military exercise, aimed at rehearsing anti-terrorist combat, hostage rescue and subduing protests and riots.

The drill, a joint operation carried out by the High Command of Commandos, the High Command of Communications, the Vinh Phuc province’s Military Command, and mobile police units, was carried out based on a scenario whereby residents in some nearby localities were incited to stage protests to complain about land and violations of democracy, human rights and freedom of religion.

The act was made in preparation to deal with increasing social dissatisfaction due to the government’s poor economic management, systemic corruption and weak response to China’s violations of the country’s sovereignty as well as bad human rights record.

Thousands of land petitioners have rallied in the capital city and other major cities to demand for reasonable compensation for the land which is seized by local authorities for urban and industrial development.

More and more people have bravely spoken to demand for political reforms and enhancement of human rights.

Vietnam’s parliament has delayed the adoption of a draft law on demonstration while the government continues to use decrees to criminalize people participating in peaceful demonstrations.

The communist-controlled legislative body also postponed approval of the draft law of associations. Recently, Minister of Public Security General Tran Dai Quang, who is expected to be promoted to higher position in the 2016-2021 period, labeled 60 unregistered civil society organizations as “reactionary groups”.

Vietnam Holds Large-scale Anti-protest Drill amid Rising Social Dissatisfaction

 

================= Dec 15==============

Vietnam Security Chief Hosts EU Official amid Int’l Concerns on Attacks against Human Rights Defenders

Defend the Defenders: Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Public Security Senior Lieutenant General To Lam, who is head of the country’s security forces, on Dec 14 held a reception for Acting Managing Director for Asia and the Pacific Ugo Astuto of the European External Action Service amid great international concerns about recent human rights violations in the communist nation.

During the meeting in the capital city of Hanoi, the two sides discussed shared concerns including law enforcement, ensuring social security and the implementation of international conventions.

The host and the guest expected the bilateral cooperation will further develop after the communist nation and the 28-country bloc signed the Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) which is expected to boost trade and investment link.

This week, Vietnam and the EU will conduct bilateral dialogue on human rights. Prior to the dialogue, the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged the EU to press for concrete and measurable improvements on human rights at its upcoming bilateral dialogue with Vietnam.

The communist government must carry out essential reforms include ending politically motivated trials and convictions, the release of political prisoners, guarantees on freedom of association and labor rights, and religious freedom, the HRW said, adding the outcome of the dialogue should be made public.

“The EU should use this opportunity to make it loud and clear to Vietnam that friendly trade relations will be accompanied by increasing demands on human rights,” said Brad Adams, HRW’s director for Asia.

“The EU should insist that Vietnam agree to clear and verifiable benchmarks for progress, or Vietnam will simply make empty promises,” he noted.

According to the HRW, although Vietnam has decreased the number of political trials and convictions in 2015 in order to gain favor during negotiations with the U.S. over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement and with the EU over the Free Trade Agreement, the country still continues to hold at least 130 political prisoners.

Other peaceful critics are simply being held without trial, such as bloggers Nguyen Huu Vinh (aka Anh Ba Sam), Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy, and Nguyen Dinh Ngoc (aka Nguyen Ngoc Gia), who were arrested in 2014 for their pro-democracy statements and remain in police custody. Activists who were arrested in 2015 included Nguyen Viet Dung, Dinh Tat Thang, Tran Anh Kim, and Nguyen Huu Quoc Duy.

In an apparent change of tactics from arrests to intimidation and violence, assaults against bloggers and rights activists worsened significantly during 2015. In every month pro-democracy campaigners have reported being attacked by plainclothes agents or police. Victims of government-support attacks are labor activists Do Thi Minh Hanh and Truong Minh Duc, human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai, Pastor Nguyen Hong Quang and bloggers Pham Doan Trang, Nguyen Tuong Thuy, J.B Nguyen Huu Vinh, Tran Thi Nga, Nguyen Chi Tuyen, Trinh Anh Tuan, Dinh Quang Tuyen, Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, Chu Manh Son, Dinh Thi Phuong Thao, Ta Tri Hai, and Tran Minh Nhat.

Last week, the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF), in response to the brutal attack against lawyer Dai and his three fellows, called on “the international community to press the Vietnamese authorities to stop employing these thuggish methods, which have turned Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s administration into a government of gangsters.”

The Amnesty International also called on Vietnam to end a wave of brutal attack against human rights defenders and end the persistent impunity by ensuring those responsible are brought to justice. According to the London-based human rights group, Vietnam has intensified crackdown against political dissidents and human rights activists over the past 18 months.

The Amnesty International calls on Vietnam’s communist government to take immediate steps to end the pattern of attacks and violence and to hold those responsible to account. Hanoi must establish an independent and impartial body to investigate these attacks and prosecute those responsible, regardless of their status or official capacity, it said.

“The only way to stop this cycle of attacks and violence is to put an end to the impunity of perpetrators, and send a clear signal that beatings of human rights defenders are unacceptable,” said John Coughlan, Amnesty International’s Vietnam researcher.

Vietnam Security Chief Hosts EU Official amid Int’l Concerns on Attacks against Human Rights Defenders

 

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One More Detainee Dies Due to Injuries in Vietnam Police Custody

Defend the Defenders: Le Van Hai, who suffered from severe injuries in police custody in Vietnam’s Central Highlands province of Dak Nong, died in the province’s General Hospital on Dec 14, state media has reported.

Hai, 22, is the latest victim of Vietnam’s police torture. So far this year, around two dozens of Vietnamese detainees have been beaten to death or severe injuries during police’s custody, according to the state media.

Hai, a resident from Dak R’la commune in Dak Mil district, was arrested by the district police five months ago on allegation of throwing stones to buses. His parents affirmed that his health was good when he was detained.

Mr. Le Van Duc, father of Hai, said there are a number of severe injuries on his son’s body.

Colonel Luong Ngoc Lep, deputy chief of the province’s police said the preliminary test showed that Hai died from heart attack. The exact cause for his death will be unveiled after the autopsy of his body, Lep said.

Vietnam ratified the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 2014, however, many people were found dead or with severe injuries when they were detained in police station nationwide.

Torture for coerced confession is systemic in Vietnam which is ruled by communists for decades, according to the New York-based Human Rights Watch.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security reported 226 deaths of detainees in police’s custody between September 2011 and October 2015. Police said most of the deaths were caused by illness and suicides, however, families of the victims believe that the real causes are police abuse of power.

One More Detainee Dies Due to Injuries in Vietnam Police Custody

=============== Dec 16============

EU Raises Concerns about Increasing Human Rights Violations in Vietnam

Defend the Defenders: The European Union (EU) has raised its concerns about human rights violations in Vietnam as well as restrictions of the country’s laws regarding basic human rights during the 5th round of EU-Vietnam Dialogue on Human Rights held in Hanoi on Dec 15.

During the one-day event co-chaired by Acting Managing Director Asia and the Pacific in the European External Action Services (EEAS) Mr. Ugo Astuto and Director General of the International Organizations Department of the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mr. Vu Anh Quang, the EU commended Vietnam for continued progress in socio-economic rights in the Southeast Asian nation while expressing persisting concerns over political and civil rights.

Discussing the newly-adopted Vietnamese Criminal Code, of the Criminal Procedure Code and the Law on Custody and Temporary Detention, the EU regretted that the revision of the Criminal Code was not seized to bring the national security provisions in line with international standards and with the principles established in the 2013 Constitution.

The EU welcomed the reduction of crimes carrying the death penalty, but reiterated its call for further steps towards abolishment of the death penalty. In this context the EU enquired about the situation of several prisoners on death row such as Mr. Le Van Manh, Mr. Ho Duy Hai and Mr. Nguyen Van Chuong.

The EU raised the issues of restrictions to freedom of expression, freedom of the media and freedom of assembly. It reiterated its serious concerns about harassment, arrest and detention of human rights defenders, activists and bloggers, especially Mr. Nguyen Huu Vinh (aka Anh Ba Sam) and his colleague Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy.

The EU also mentioned the recent assaults against labor rights activist Ms. Do Thi Minh Hanh and against lawyer Nguyen Van Dai. In addition the EU raised the cases of several persons in jail, namely Mr. Dang Xuan Dieu, Mr. Ngo Hao and Mrs. Bui Thi Minh Anh.

The 28-nation bloc reiterated its request for the release of all persons detained for peacefully exercising their freedom of expression. Furthermore the EU asked to be granted more visits to these persons and to be allowed to observe trials in cases of concern.

The draft Law on Associations and the draft Law on Religion and Beliefs were also discussed and possibilities for the EU to share expertise as well as a support to the action plan for the implementation of the UN Convention against Torture. The EU recalled the importance for Vietnam to ratify outstanding ILO core Conventions.

The two sides discussed cooperation in international fora, both on thematic and country-specific resolutions. The EU welcomed Vietnam’s willingness to engage further with UN Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups, encouraging the communist nation to issue a standing invitation to UN Special Procedures and in particular invitations to the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders.

The EU called for progress in the implementation of the UPR recommendations and enquired about the follow-up to the last visit of the UN Special rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

Right after the dialogue, on Dec. 16, Vietnam’s security forces arrested prominent dissident Nguyen Van Dai and detained him in four months for probing him on the charge of conducting anti-state propaganda under Article 88 of the country’s Penal Code. If proven guilty, he will face imprisonment of between three and twelve years.

Mr. Dai, who spent four years in prison and four years under house arrest between 2007 and mid 2015, was arrested when he was on the way to the meeting with the EU delegation at the invitation of Mr. Astuto.

In response to Mr. Dai arrest, the London-based Amnesty International called on Vietnam to release him immediately and unconditionally, saying he is “a brave and passionate activist who has been raising awareness domestically and internationally about human rights violations in a country that tolerates no dissent.”

His arrest highlights Vietnam’s spurious commitment to human rights, the human rights group said.

Regarding recent attacks against human rights defenders and social activists in Vietnam, Champa Patel, Amnesty International Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific said the Vietnamese authorities must also take immediate steps to end intimidation, harassment and other forms of attacks against human rights defenders, and establish an independent and impartial body to investigate and bring suspected perpetrators to justice.

Vietnam is still holding 130 political prisoners who bravely express the freedom of opinions, according to the Amnesty International.

PRESS RELEASE: EU and Vietnam hold Human Rights Dialogue

———————–

Assaults on Human Rights Defenders on the Rise in Vietnam

Civil Rights Defenders: The second half of 2015 saw an alarming rise in the number of violent attacks and threats against human rights defenders, petitioners, and their family members in Vietnam. Civil Rights Defenders calls on the Vietnamese authorities to end these attacks and to bring perpetrators to justice in line with Vietnam’s international human rights obligations.

Between June and mid December, at least 22 incidents of violent attacks were reported through out the country, affecting at least 42 persons (see timeline below). This is an increase from the January-May period, during which at least 14 attacks affecting 27 persons were recorded. Many of these attacks were perpetrated with impunity in broad daylight by police or plainclothes agents. In some cases, defenders’ family members or their private residence was targeted. In the latest incident on 06th December, a group of about 20 masked men assaulted and robbed human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai and three other activists in Nghe An province, after Dai addressed a human rights forum for local villagers and activists. Unidentified men also attacked Dai’s apartment in Hanoi in January this year.

“These blatant violations of the right to personal security are leaving behind a blood trail that is shockingly inimical to Vietnam’s status as a member of the UN Human Rights Council and a state party to numerous human rights treaties,” said Marie Månson, Human Rights Defenders at Risk Programme Director at Civil Rights Defenders. Vietnam abstained from a UN General Assembly draft resolution on the recognition and protection of human rights defenders last month at the Third Committee. The resolution will be put to a second and final vote on 17th December in New York.

There continues be a lack of credible, transparent and thorough investigations into these brazen attacks. On 03rd November, a group of men attacked and seriously injured human rights lawyers Tran Thu Nam and Le Van Luan in Hanoi after the lawyers met with their clients in a case of death in police custody. The lawyers said they recognised a policeman in plainclothes among the attackers. A week later, the Hanoi police announced they conducted an investigation, denied any police involvement, and said the attack was triggered by a “traffic dispute” between the attackers and the two lawyers.

There has been an increase of violent attacks against human rights defenders in Vietnam in the second half of 2015.

At least 28 defenders and petitioners are also known to have been arbitrarily detained and questioned by police in the same period, including blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, the recipient of the 2015 Civil Rights Defender of the Year Award. Ms Quynh received the award in absentia due to on-going restrictions on her freedom of movement. She was also attacked and injured by police in July during a peaceful assembly.

“Concerned governments must make it very clear to Vietnam that human rights defenders deserve recognition and protection, not kicks and punches, for their legitimate and important work,” urged Marie Månson.

Background

Vietnam has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). Article 9 of the ICCPR guarantees the right to security of the person. Article 7 of the ICCPR and CAT guarantees the right to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Vietnam thus has a positive obligation to prevent, investigate and hold accountable those responsible for violating these rights.

When its human rights record was reviewed by fellow UN member states in 2014 under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), Vietnam agreed to implement numerous human rights recommendations, including to ensure a “favourable”, “friendly” and “safe and enabling” environment for human rights defenders and civil society actors. In a statement marking International Human Rights Day last week, deputy minister of foreign affairs Ha Kim Ngoc said that Vietnam “steadfastly pursues the policy of ensuring full enforcement of basic rights and freedom for each citizen.”

In addition to violent attacks, scores of human rights defenders and government critics remain in prison after being convicted in unfair trials under broad and vague provisions of the Penal Code. Several activists and bloggers are in detention awaiting trial, including blogger Nguyen Huu Vinh (aka Anh BaSam) and his assistant Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy, former prisoner of conscience Tran Anh Kim, and blogger Nguyen Dinh Ngoc (aka Nguyen Ngoc Gia).

Seriously flawed provisions often abused to prosecute activists remain intact in the recently revised Penal Code, adopted in late November and effective from 01st July 2016. The National Assembly is considering a draft law on associations that contains highly restrictive provisions and intrusive requirements inconsistent with Vietnam’s obligations to protect and promote the right to freedom of association.

CRD: Timeline of harassments and attacks against human rights defenders in Vietnam.

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Vietnam Arrests Prominent Dissident, Probing Him for Anti-state Propaganda

Defend the Defenders: The Security Investigation Agency under Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security on Dec 16 arrested high-profile dissident lawyer Nguyen Van Dai, accusing him of conducting anti-state propaganda under Article 88 of the country’s Penal Code, state media reported on Wednesday.

The security forces also searched his apartment in Bach Khoa ward, Hai Ba Trung district in the capital city of Hanoi and took numerous personal items, including computer, cell phones and books, newspapers said, adding the arrest was approved by the Supreme People’s  Procuracy.

Mr. Dai, 46, will be held in four months for investigation and if is proven guilty, he will face imprisonment of between three and 12 years in prison, according to Vietnam’s current laws.

Blogger Truong Van Dung, who was with Mr. Dai this morning, was also detained by Hanoi police. Mr. Dung said he was taken to a local police station in Bach Khoa ward where he was brutally beaten by a group of five police officers. Police also held his cell phone and six memory cards before releasing him.

On the same day, security forces in Hanoi also detained Le Thu Ha, a member of the Brotherhood for Democracy, in her office in the city. In May, she was blocked by security agents in the Hanoi-based Noi Bai International Airport when she went to take a flight to Stockholm where she was invited to attend a meeting organized by the Swedish Civil Rights Defenders.

Mr. Dai, lawyer in profession, was arrested in 2007, together with Le Thi Cong Nhan, an another prominent dissident, for the charge of conducting anti-state propaganda. He was sentenced to four years in jail and released in 2011. His four-year house arrest just ended in June.

After being freed four years ago, Mr. Dai continues his activities which aim to promote multi-party democracy and human rights in the communist nation. He formed the Brotherhood for Democracy and the Vietnam Center for Human Rights, which have attracted participation of hundreds of young activists nationwide.

Dai has been a subject of harassment by police forces who keep constant surveillance on him. He was attacked several times by thugs, with the latest case occurred ten days ago in the central province of Nghe An. About 20 thugs with wooden bars brutally beat Dai and three fellows after they attended a meeting with local activists to mark the International Human Rights Day [Dec. 10].

The arrest of lawyer Dai is part of the intensified crackdown of Vietnam’s communist government against local dissidents and social activists several months ahead of the ruling communist party’s National Congress slated in early 2016, and one day after a human rights dialogue between Vietnam and the EU.

In recent months, a number of government critics have been arrested, including Nguyen Viet Dung, Nguyen Dinh Ngoc (aka Nguyen Ngoc Gia), and Tran Anh Kim, in addition to blogger Nguyen Huu Vinh (aka Anh Ba Sam) and his assistant Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy detained in May last year. According to the New York-based Human Rights Watch, Vietnam is holding 130 political prisoners.

In an apparent change of tactics from arrests to intimidation and violence, assaults against bloggers and rights activists worsened significantly during 2015. In every month pro-democracy campaigners have reported being attacked by plainclothes agents or police. Victims of government-support attacks are labor activists Do Thi Minh Hanh and Truong Minh Duc, human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai, Pastor Nguyen Hong Quang and bloggers Pham Doan Trang, Nguyen Tuong Thuy, J.B Nguyen Huu Vinh, Tran Thi Nga, Nguyen Chi Tuyen, Trinh Anh Tuan, Dinh Quang Tuyen, Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, Chu Manh Son, Dinh Thi Phuong Thao, Ta Tri Hai, and Tran Minh Nhat.

According to the Stockholm-based Civil Rights Defenders, at least 22 incidents of violent attacks were reported through out Vietnam between June and mid-December, affecting at least 42 activists.

“These blatant violations of the right to personal security are leaving behind a blood trail that is shockingly inimical to Vietnam’s status as a member of the UN Human Rights Council and a state party to numerous human rights treaties,” said Marie Månson, Human Rights Defenders at Risk Program Director at Civil Rights Defenders.

The UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights, the London-based Amnesty International and the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) all condemned the recent attacks against Vietnamese political dissidents and human rights activists, and called on the communist government to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators and take measures to ensure security of all human rights defenders.

Vietnamese communists, who have ruled the country for decades, vow to keep the country under a one-party regime. The ruling party has asked the security forces to prevent the establishment of opposition parties.

Last month, Minister of Public Security General Tran Dai Quang, who is also a member of the party’s Politburo, the highest decision-making body in the communist nation, labeled 60 unregistered civil society organizations as “reactionary groups”.

VCHR: Vietnam lawyer arrested on “anti-Socialist propaganda” charges for discussing the Vietnamese Constitution

Asianews: Nguyen Van Dai, a Christian lawyer, detained for “propaganda against the state”

RFA: Vietnam Detains Dissident Lawyer For ‘Anti-State Propaganda’

The Straights Times: Vietnam arrests high-profile lawyer on anti-state charges

————

Vietnam: Immediately and Unconditionally Release Democracy Activist Nguyen Viet Dung

Amnesty International, Dec 16, 2015: Amnesty International calls on Viet Nam to immediately  and unconditionally release  Nguyễn Việt Dũng, who is a prisoner  of conscience. Nguyễn Việt Dũng was convicted  of ‘causing public  disorder’ solely for peacefully  exercising  his rights to freedom  of expression  and peaceful assembly  under Article 245 on 14  December  2015 and sentenced to 15  months  in prison.

Dũng was arrested on 12  April 2015 after taking part in the ‘Save the Trees’ protest  in Hanoi. The protest, which was attended by approximately  150 people,  called  on the authorities in Hanoi to abandon plans  to cut down thousands of trees  lining the capital’s  boulevards,  plans  that  have since been  shelved  but not until after hundreds of trees  had already been  felled.

Dũng was arrested with four friends  at a café after the protest. The five young men are members of the Republic  Party of Viet Nam, which Dũng launched on 2 April 2015. The unregistered party calls for democracy  and human  rights in one-party  Viet Nam. At the demonstration, the five wore t-shirts bearing  the logo of the former Republic  of Viet Nam, the name  for the pre-unification state  of South Viet Nam from 1955-1975. Dũng also wore the military clothing  of the former Republic  of Viet Nam. The four friends  were released without charge.  Dũng has been  charged  because of his political beliefs  and for peacefully  exercising  the right to freedom  of expression. In addition, advocates within Viet Nam say Dũng was beaten in custody.

Amnesty International is concerned by the proceedings leading  to Dũng’s conviction  which did not comply with the right to a fair trial: a request for postponement on the grounds  that  Dũng was unwell and too weak to participate in the proceedings was rejected while one of Dũng’s defence lawyers was ejected from the court after complaining  that  the defence’s arguments and evidence  were ignored. Three other lawyers acting  for Dũng walked out of the hearing  in protest  at the flawed proceedings.

Article 245 of the Penal  Code criminalises acts  which “foment  public  disorder  causing  serious consequences” and carries  a maximum  sentence of seven years imprisonment. Dũng was convicted solely for peacefully  exercising  his rights to freedom  of expression, peaceful assembly  and his political  opinions  or beliefs.  The right to peaceful assembly  is guaranteed by Article 21  of the International Covenant on Civil and Political  Rights (ICCPR), to which Viet Nam is a party. Dũng’s attending the protest  and expressing  his political  opinion and belief (including  through  founding  a political  party and wearing clothing  that  could be perceived  as a political  statement) is protected by the right to freedom  of opinion and belief and freedom  of expression;  a right which is guaranteed by Articles 18  and 19  of the ICCPR. The rights to freedom  of expression  and peaceful assembly  are also protected under  Article 25  of Viet Nam’s Constitution.

Background

Nguyễn Việt Dũng is a 30-year-old engineer  graduate from Nghệ An province.  After his arrest  in April, Dũng’s home was searched by police who confiscated several of his belongings  which are said to have included paraphernalia relating  to the Republic  of Vietnam.

Viet Nam has a longstanding history of detaining human  rights and democracy  activists  for peacefully  exercising  their right to freedom  of expression, and charging  them  under  vaguely worded provisions of the criminal  code.  In recent  months, a spate  of brutal  attacks against  activists  by masked  and plain-clothes men have gone unpunished. Regardless of who has carried  out these attacks, the authorities have an obligation  to protect  human  rights defenders from acts  of violence under  international human  rights law.

The Communist  Party of Viet Nam’s (CPV) National  Congress will take place  sometime in early

2016, when it will decide  on the new CPV leadership. This will be followed by national  elections and the appointment of a new President and Prime Minister.

——————–

EU Delegation Meets with Hanoi-based Democracy Activists

On December 16, representatives of the EU Delegation, led by Dr. Christian Behrmann held a meeting with many Hanoi-based democracy activists in the bloc’s representative office in Vietnam’s capital city.

During the meeting, the EU reported the result of the 5th round of the Vietnam-EU Human Rights Dialogue held on December 15, on which the bloc addressed Vietnam’s restrictions to freedom of expression, freedom of the media and freedom of assembly as well as reiterated its serious concerns about harassment, arrest and detention of human rights defenders, activists and bloggers.

The EU welcomed the reduction of crimes carrying the death penalty, but reiterated its call for further steps towards abolishment of the death penalty. In this context the EU enquired about the situation of several prisoners on death row such as Mr. Le Van Manh, Mr. Ho Duy Hai and Mr. Nguyen Van Chuong.

In their turn, Vietnamese activists said the local communist government has often failed to implement its international commitments, especially regarding universal human rights. Vietnam has applied controversial articles in the Penal Code to silence government critics and social activists as well as human rights defenders, said blogger Nguyen Chi Tuyen.

After the meeting, the participants were informed that human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai, who was invited to the event, was arrested and charged with “anti-state propaganda” according to Article 88 of the Penal Code.

SBTN: Liên Hiệp Châu Âu gặp gỡ những nhà hoạt động dân chủ tại Hà Nội

————————-

Ha Tinh Prosecutes Dong Yen Catholic Followers for Blocking National Road

Authorities in Vietnam’s central province of Ha Tinh has decided to prosecute Catholic followers in Dong Yen parish for blocking the National Road on December 11.

The local authorities blamed the followers of conducting public disorders, said Colonel Dang Hoai Son, police head in Ky Anh town.

On the day, hundreds of Dong Yen made baricades to block the road between Ky Nam and Ky Phuong communes, demanding release of two local residents. The uprising was caused by the illegal detentions of Mr. Hoang Thiet and Nguyen Xuan Phuong, who are responsible for security of the parish.

Earlier on October 5, when four plainclothes came to the parish to arrest a local man named Nguyen Xuan Thanh, local residents, led by Mr. Thiet and Mr. Phuong blocked them, demanding them to show arrest warrants. They released the four people, who were treated properly, after Ha Tinh sent police to rescue them.

Dong Yen followers agreed to return home after the authorities pledged to release Thiet and Phuong.

Colonel Son said the case is under investigation and will bring violators to justice.

So far, any followers have been detained.

SBTN: Khởi tố vụ giáo dân xứ Đồng Yên chặn dường quốc lộ 1A

============== Dec 17 ==============

Urgent Action: Human Rights Lawyer Arrested, at Risk

Amnesty International: Vietnamese human rights lawyer Nguyễn Văn Đài was arrested on charges of “conducting propaganda” against the state on 16 December. He is in detention pending investigation and at risk of torture and other ill-treatment.

Nguyễn Văn Đài was arrested in the morning of 16 December when he was on his way to meet with members of a delegation of European Union (EU) officials who were in Ha Noi for the EU-Viet Nam human rights dialogue that took place on 15 December. Security officers searched Nguyễn Văn Đài’s home and confiscated personal belongings, including computers, phones and documents. He was taken to B-14 prison in Ha Noi where he will be detained for four months pending investigation under Article 88 of the Penal Code for “conducting propaganda” against the state. The four months detention period can be extended. If tried and convicted under Article 88, Nguyễn Văn Đài could face between three and 20 years in prison.

Nguyễn Văn Đài is a human rights lawyer and former prisoner of conscience well known both in Viet Nam and internationally. He founded the dissident Committee for Human Rights in Viet Nam in 2006 – now called the Vietnam Human Rights Centre – and was one of the original signatories to an online petition “Freedom and Democracy for Viet Nam” which garnered the support of thousands. In March 2007 Nguyễn Văn Đài was arrested after holding workshops and seminars on human rights law for university students. He was then sentenced to four years in prison after being convicted under Article 88. Following his release in March 2011, he continued advocating for human rights and in April 2013, he founded the Brotherhood for Democracy, an online  prodemocracy discussion group.

Nguyễn Văn Đài is at risk of torture and other ill-treatment while in detention. Human rights defenders facing criminal charges are subject to severe and often brutal treatment during pre-trial detention and investigation.

Please write immediately in English, Vietnamese or your own language:

 Urging the authorities to release Nguyễn Văn Đài immediately and unconditionally as he is a prisoner of conscience detained solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression and for his activities promoting human rights;

 Urging them to ensure that he is not subjected to torture and other ill-treatment while in detention;

 Urging them to treat him in accordance with the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners and to ensure that he is given full access to lawyers, doctors and his family.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 28 JANUARY 2016 TO:

 

Minister of Public Security

Gen Tran Dai Quang

Ministry of Public Security

44 Yet Kieu Street, Hoan Kiem district

Ha Noi, VIET NAM

Online contact form:

http://www.mps.gov.vn/web/guest/contact_english

Salutation: Dear Minister

 

Minister of Foreign Affairs

Pham Binh Minh

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

1 Ton That Dam Street, Ba Dinh district

Ha Noi, VIET NAM

Fax: + 844 3823 1872

Email: [email protected]

Salutation: Dear Minister

 

And copies to:

Minister of Justice

Ha Hung Cuong

Ministry of Justice

60 Tran Phu Street, Ba Dinh district

Ha Noi, VIET NAM

Fax: + 844 627 3959

Email: [email protected]

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please insert local diplomatic addresses below:

Name Address 1 Address 2 Address 3 Fax Fax number Email Email address Salutation Salutation

Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The arrest comes 10 days after Nguyễn Văn Đài and three colleagues were brutally assaulted by 20 men in plain clothes after they had delivered a small workshop on human rights. This attack is the latest in a series of physical assaults on human rights defenders in Viet Nam over the past 18 months which have been highlighted by the UN, among others. See End wave of brutal attacks against human rights defenders, https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2015/12/viet-nam-end-wave-of-brutal-attacksagainst-human-rights-defenders/ and Arrest of human rights lawyer highlights spurious commitment to human rights, https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2015/12/viet-nam-arrest-of-human-rights-lawyer-highlights-spurious-commitment-tohuman-rights/

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 88 (Conducting propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam) is one of several provisions in the Penal Code 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 food and health care that fall short of the minimum requirements set out in the UN Standard Minimum Rules and other international standards. Human rights defenders facing criminal charges are subject to severe and often brutal treatment during pre-trial detention and investigation. This includes physical violence, intimidation, humiliation and isolation constituting torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment which is often unrelenting for periods of months and even years. The aim of this treatment is to force the victims to admit to wrongdoing and confess to the charges against them.

Treatment after trial and conviction is also harsh. Prisoners of conscience have been held in solitary confinement as a punishment or in isolation for lengthy periods. They have also been subjected to torture and other 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.

Amnesty International: URGENT ACTION: HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER ARRESTED, AT RISK

——————————-

Message from Ambassador Bruno Angelet, Head of Delegation of the European Union to Vietnam and the Ambassadors of the EU Member States in Vietnam on the arrest of lawyer Nguyen Van Dai (17/12/2015)

The Head of the Delegation of the European Union and the Ambassadors of the EU Member States in Vietnam express their serious concerns over the arrest yesterday of Mr. Nguyen Van Dai, lawyer and human rights defender. On 15 December 2015, the Investigating Agency of the Ministry of Public Security decided to prosecute Mr. Nguyen Van Dai for “conducting propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam”, under article 88 of the Penal Code. The Supreme People’s Court ratified the decision. It has been reported that Mr. Nguyen Van Dai was assaulted last week after participating in a workshop on human rights in the Province of Nghe An.

The decision to arrest and prosecute Mr. Nguyen Van Dai is particularly disappointing as it happened on the day of the annual EU-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue in Hanoi and shortly after the visit to Brussels of Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung where both sides concluded the negotiations for an EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement. In addition the European Parliament is voting today to give its consent to the ratification of the EU-Vietnam Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. Mr. Andrus Ansip, Vice-President of the European Commission raised yesterday the arrest of Mr. Nguyen Van Dai during the plenary session of the European Parliament.

The Head of the Delegation of the European Union and the Ambassadors of the EU Member States in Vietnam recall the fundamental right for all persons to hold opinions and freely and peacefully express them, in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Vietnam is a party.

They reiterate prior calls on Vietnam to release all peaceful advocates of human rights in the country.

The EU also expresses its readiness to continue working in partnership with Vietnam to secure positive changes on human rights and rule of law issues.

Message from Ambassador Bruno Angelet, Head of Delegation of the European Union to Vietnam and the Ambassadors of the EU Member States in Vietnam on the arrest of lawyer Nguyen Van Dai (17/12/2015)

——————–

Letter of Vietnam Human Rights Network to Mr. Astuto about the case of Lawyer Nguyen Van Dai

Honorable Ugo Astuto

Acting Managing Director

Asia and the Pacific in the European External Action Services (EEAS)

Dear Mr. Astuto:

On behalf of the Vietnam Human Rights Network, may I thank you for your recent meeting in Hanoi, the fifth round of the annual enhanced Dialogue on Human Rights in the spirit of the EU-Vietnam Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) signed in 2012.  Your frank discussion of the many lapses in the respect of human rights in Vietnam is very much welcomed as Hanoi needs to be constantly reminded of its responsibilities on this score, especially now that it sits in the UN Council on Human Rights.

In your discussion on December 15, you have mentioned many specific cases of concern to the European Union such as the three death sentences given to Le Van Manh, Ho Duy Hai and Nguyen Van Chuong; the harassment of human rights defenders like Do Thi Minh Hanh (labor rights activist), Nguyen Van Dai (of the Democracy Brotherhood), etc.

The case of Lawyer Nguyen Van Dai is especially worrisome since he has just been arrested on charges of “Conducting propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” on December 16 while on his way to the  meeting with the European Union officials who were in Ha Noi for the EU-Viet Nam human rights dialogue. He is currently in detention pending investigation and at risk of ill-treatment. As you may know, Nguyen Van Dai is one of the most prominent human rights defenders in Vietnam and well-known to the whole world.  When even a notable human rights defender like him can be beaten up savagely by the police on December 6 after he returned from a seminar in Nghe An on the occasion of the 67th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and prevented by security policemen to go and meet with you on the morning of December 16, then it’s clear that Vietnam is a long way from meeting standards of human rights that the European Union would like to see in Vietnam.  His case is symptomatic for even if a prominent person like him could be beaten up with impunity by the police, then what can one expect from the police in Vietnam in the case of much less well-known persons.  The fact that over 200 persons have died in police custody in the last few years is another indication of the brutality and barbarity of the regime’s police force.

That is why we would like to ask that you raise a very strong voice of condemnation of what happened to Attorney Nguyen Van Dai, practically under your very own eyes.  Thank you for your kind consideration of our request.

Sincerely yours,

 

Nguyen Ba Tung

Chairman

Vietnam Human Rights Network: Letter of Vietnam Human Rights Network to Mr. Astuto about the case of Lawyer Nguyen Van Dai

———————-

Viet Nam: Arrest of human rights lawyer highlights spurious commitment to human rights

Amnesty International, Dec 16, 2015: Authorities in Viet Nam must immediately and unconditionally release human rights lawyer Nguyễn Văn Đài, who has been detained on charges of “spreading propaganda against the state” shortly after the EU-Viet Nam Human Rights dialogue was held in the capital Ha Noi, Amnesty International said today.

According to a statement by the Ministry of Public Security, Nguyễn Văn Đài was taken into police custody on Wednesday and charged under Article 88 of the Penal Code, which has frequently been used to imprison peaceful activists and human rights defenders. A search warrant was issued for his house in Ha Noi. The arrest comes a month before the once every five years National Congress of the Communist Party of Viet Nam which is often preceded by a crackdown on dissent.

“Nguyễn Văn Đài is a brave and passionate activist who has been raising awareness domestically and internationally about human rights violations in a country that tolerates no dissent. His arrest highlights Viet Nam’s spurious commitment to human rights. He must be immediately and unconditionally released,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

“The timing of Đài’s arrest is worrying and may indicate the start of a crackdown on government critics similar to those which have preceded previous party congresses. Rather than locking up its critics, Viet Nam should be looking on the party congress as an opportunity to reform and to move the country towards a genuine commitment to human rights.”

Nguyễn Văn Đài is a well-known human rights lawyer and former prisoner of conscience. He founded the dissident Committee for Human Rights in Viet Nam in 2006 – now called the Vietnam Human Rights Centre – and was one of the original signatories to an online petition on Freedom and Democracy for Viet Nam which garnered the support of thousands.

Between 2007 and 2011, Nguyễn Văn Đài served four years in prison on charges of “conducting propaganda against the state”. In April 2013, he founded the Brotherhood for Democracy, and he now faces imprisonment for a second time for his commitment to human rights. If convicted for “spreading propaganda against the state”, Nguyễn Văn Đài faces between three and 20 years in prison. Since his arrest this morning, activists inside Viet Nam have been describing Đài as Viet Nam’s Pu Zhiqiang.

The arrest comes 10 days after Đài and three colleagues were brutally assaulted by 20 men in plain clothes after they had delivered a small workshop on human rights. The attack is the latest in a series of physical assaults on human rights defenders in Viet Nam over the past 18 months which have been highlighted by the UN, among others.

“The Vietnamese authorities must also take immediate steps to end intimidation, harassment and other forms of attacks against human rights defenders, and establish an independent and impartial body to investigate and bring suspected perpetrators to justice,” said Champa Patel.

Background

Amnesty International and others have repeatedly called for Article 88 to be repealed or amended to conform with international human rights law and standards, which Viet Nam is obliged to uphold as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Vietnamese authorities have stated that several laws relating to human rights are under preparation for approval by the National Assembly in 2016. They include the draft Amended Law on the Press, the draft Law on Association, the draft Law on Demonstrations and the draft Law on Access to Information.

—————

Statement by Senator Thanh Hai Ngo on the Ongoing Crackdown of Democracy Activists in Vietnam

Today Senator Thanh Hai Ngo of Canada’s Parliament issued the following statement:

“I am very concerned that the Vietnamese police placed human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai into custody on December 16, 2015, and charged him under Article 88 of the Penal Code for “conducting propaganda against the state of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.” Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security presented these accusations against him while revoking his legal licence and searching his private residence. These charges were laid soon after he and colleagues were brutally assaulted for delivering a small workshop on human rights.

“The Vietnamese authorities should immediately release Nguyen Van Dai and drop these charges against him. The arrest of this well-known journalist and founder of the Committee for Human Rights known for his online criticism of communist leadership and policies in Vietnam is the latest incident in an alarming crackdown on government critics. Close to 130 other political prisoners, such as Father Nguyen Van Ly, Mr. Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, Ms. Do Thi Minh Anh, Mr. Nguyen Quang Lap, Mr. Doan Huy Chuong and Ms. Bui Thi Minh Hang, are also serving harsh prison sentences for simply voicing their opinions in Vietnam.

“This unacceptable crackdown on dissent and the direct public targeting of human rights activists for the so-called offence of ‘spreading propaganda against the communist state’ is occurring as the ruling Communist Party prepares for its momentous 12th National Congress next month, when it is expected to reshuffle its top three positions and make important changes to its foreign policy.

“Human rights issues are not to be downplayed by Canada, which cannot remain silent as intimidation and violence against bloggers and rights activists worsened significantly during 2015.

“As the Government of Canada engages closely with Vietnam through trade pacts, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, it absolutely must stand as a true human rights champion and show leadership in human rights protection and the promotion of democracy by guiding the communist one-party nation down a path of reform and towards a free and democratic Vietnam.”

Statement by Senator Thanh Hai Ngo on the Ongoing Crackdown of Democracy Activists in Vietnam

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

Growing calls for release of Nguyen Van Dai

Vietnam Right Now: Diplomats, human rights groups and politicians in the United States and Australia have demanded the release of the prominent human rights lawyer, Nguyen Van Dai, who was arrested on Wednesday.

The head of the EU mission in Hanoi, Bruno Angelet, said that the arrest was a particular shock as it coincided with the EU’s annual human rights dialogue with Vietnam.

Amnesty International said the timing of the arrest was worrying and could signal the start of a broader crackdown.

The former political prisoner and pro-democracy activist was arrested on Wednesday and charged with conducting propaganda against the state, which can carry a lengthy prison term.

“Nguyen Van Dai is a brave and passionate activist who has been raising awareness domestically and internationally about human rights violations in a country that tolerates no dissent,” said Amnesty International’s director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Champa Patel.

“His arrest highlights Vietnam’s spurious commitment to human rights. He must be immediately and unconditionally released.”

She said the timing of his arrest may be related to preparations for a highly sensitive Communist Party congress expected next month, in which new leaders will be announced for the party and state.

The German embassy in Hanoi requested the immediate release of Mr Dai.

US Congressman Alan Lowenthal, who represents a district in southern California with a large Vietnamese population, wrote to the Secretary of State, John Kerry, to ask for more pressure from Washington for all the charges to be dropped.

Dai suffered bruising to the face and other injuries during a sustained assault this month

“Sadly this is just the latest example of the failed human rights record of the Hanoi government and casts a stark spotlight on the fact that cases of human rights abuse and repression are the government-sponsored norm in Vietnam, not the exception,” he said.

The Australian MP, Bernie Ripoll, described Mr Dai as a courageous and passionate fighter for democracy and said he had written to the prime minister, Nguyen Tan Dung, to request his release.

EU representatives expressed concern to their Vietnamese counterparts the day before Mr Dai’s arrest about the state of political and civil rights in the country.

“The EU raised the issues of restrictions to freedom of expression, freedom of the media and freedom of assembly. It reiterated its serious concerns about harassment, arrest and detention of human rights defenders, activists and bloggers,” said a statement released after the meeting.

It is also mentioned a recent series of assaults on human rights advocates, including a violent attack on Mr Dai and three of his associates on December 6 after they had addressed a human rights workshop south of the capital.

Failure of dialogue

However, some groups say the arrest of Mr Dai exposes the failure of the EU, and other outsiders, to have any effect on a state that seems intent on stifling dissent.

“The problem is that the human rights dialogue takes place once a year. (The Vietnamese) can say anything they want in the talks, and immediately afterwards they come back with aggressive tactics to suppress the facts,” said Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch.

The European Union has been accused of rushing to sign a free trade agreement with Vietnam without doing enough to secure Vietnam’s compliance with its international commitments on civil rights.

Some analysts suspect that Vietnam refrained from high profile trials of government critics while it was negotiating trade deals with Brussels and Washington – both of which were completed in recent weeks.

They worry that it now feels unrestrained in its efforts to crush civil rights activists and other dissidents.

Vietnam Right Now: Growing calls for release of Nguyen Van Dai

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

Activists: Arrest of Vietnam Rights Lawyer a Misstep

Voice of America: A well-known Vietnamese human rights lawyer was arrested Wednesday on anti-state “propaganda” charges, the latest incident in what rights groups are calling an alarming crackdown on government critics.

Nguyen Van Dài’s arrest came 10 days after he and three colleagues were brutally assaulted by 20 unknown men wielding sticks. The attack took place shortly after the activists had held a small workshop on human rights

A U.N. human rights official condemned the attack, the latest documented assault on Vietnamese rights advocates over the past 18 months, and called for a full airing of activists’ allegations that the incident was carried out by plainclothes police officers.

According to a statement by the police-run Ministry of Public Security, Dài was taken into custody and charged under Article 88 of the Penal Code, which has frequently been used to imprison peaceful activists and human rights defenders.

Officials have not offered any other comment on the case.

Home search, arrest

Rights activist Pham Ba Hai, a close friend of Dài, said the arrest came after search warrants were issued for Dài’s house.

“They confiscated many of Dài’s assets,” Hai said, “including laptops, cellphones, USBs, CDs, books on human rights, a number of T-shirts with human rights logos, and four envelopes containing money, which is the fund Dài used to support relatives of prisoners of conscience in Vietnam.”

Dài’s personal assistant was also arrested after her home was searched, Hai said.

Authorities in Hanoi have long been accused of using vague laws, such as Article 88, to crack down on bloggers and other activists who have become more popular through the Internet and social media, which are heavily used in Vietnam.

Dài, the 47-year-old founder of the dissident Vietnam Committee on Human Rights, finished serving a four-year sentence for anti-state propaganda in 2011.

‘No real movement forward’

Various rights organizations immediately responded to the latest charges, calling them a political and ethical miscalculation for Vietnam and proof of its spurious commitment to human rights.

London-based Amnesty International issued a statement calling for Dài’s release. Reporters Without Borders echoed similar sentiments.

“Dài is a brave and passionate activist who helps raise awareness domestically and internationally about human rights violations in a country that tolerates no dissent,” said Benjamin Ismaïl of Reporters Without Borders, who called Hanoi’s policies counterproductive. “They can’t win the game — one blogger arrested; 10 more will emerge.”

Bob Dietz, Asia program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, says Dài’s arrest contrasts sharply with sweeping reforms, including increased support for gay, lesbian and transgender rights.

“It tells us that Vietnam hasn’t really changed very much and that its government is still unable to deal with criticism in any forms,” Dietz said, calling news of the arrest “distressing” for those anticipating further change. “What we’re seeing is no real movement forward out of the authoritarian ways.”

Dài, who founded the Brotherhood for Democracy in 2013, faces between three and 20 years in prison if convicted.

VOA: Activists: Arrest of Vietnam Rights Lawyer a Misstep

———————————-

Vietnam among Top Ten Worst Jailer of Journalists in 2015: CPJ

Defend the Defenders: Vietnam, though among countries holding fewer journalist prisoners, ranks the tenth worst jailer of journalists in 2015 with six journalists put behind the bar, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

In the country, a climate of fear for the media persists, with many of those released continuing to face legal charges or harsh restrictions, including forced exile, CPJ said in a report released on Dec 15.

The number of prisoners also shrank in Vietnam, but in some cases release from jail comes at a high cost, showed the report, noting that the country remains among the most censored in the world.

Among jailed journalists are Nguyen Van Hai (aka Dieu Cay) and Ta Phong Tan who were forced into exile in the U.S. in 2014 and 2015, respectively after serving years in prison.

In an interview with CPJ in its headquarter in New York 2014, Ta Phong Tan said that Vietnam’s communist authorities never voluntarily uphold the conventions on human rights, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, against torture [that] they have signed.

Vietnam, which was elected to the UN Human Rights Council in 2013, has boasted its efforts to ensure enforcement of laws on human rights, saying all accusations are groundless.

Vietnam among Top Ten Worst Jailer of Journalists in 2015: CPJ

=================== Dec 18==============

Viet Nam: Arrest and arbitrary detention of Mr. Nguyen Van Dai, a human rights lawyer and well-known defender of religious freedom

URGENT APPEAL – THE OBSERVATORY

VNM 001 / 1215 / OBS 110

Arbitrary detention /

Judicial harassment

Vietnam

December 18, 2015

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Vietnam.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR) about the arrest and arbitrary detention of Mr. Nguyen Van Dai, a human rights lawyer and well-known defender of religious freedom.

According to the information received, on December 16, 2015 at around 8.30 am, about 25 police officers arrested Mr. Nguyen Van Dai at his house in Hanoi after searching his house and confiscating several of his belongings, including two laptops and one desktop computer, several USB sticks, a camera and two camcorders, books on human rights, four envelopes containing money that Nguyen Van Dai uses to support relatives of prisoners of conscience in Vietnam, and his savings account bank book.

Mr. Nguyen Van Dai’s arrest occurred as he was preparing to meet European Union (EU) delegates who were in Hanoi for the fifth EU-Vietnam human rights dialogue on December 15.

In a statement posted on its website, the Ministry of Public Security announced it had issued an arrest warrant on December 15 for Mr. Nguyen Van Dai’s arrest.

Mr. Nguyen Van Dai was charged under Article 88 of the Criminal Code  (“spreading propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam”) for organising meetings and discussions on the 2013 Vietnamese Constitution. Mr. Nguyen Van Dai was informed that he would be temporarily jailed for four months at the B14 Prison in Hanoi, pending trial. If convicted, he faces three to 20 years in prison.

The Observatory recalls that, in July 2002, the United Nations Human Rights Committee denounced the provisions of Article 88 as “incompatible” with international human rights law and demanded their immediate repeal.

Mr. Nguyen Van Dai’s arrest took place after he was subject to a brutal attack on December 6, 2015. On that day, Mr. Nguyen Van Dai and three associates were returning to Hanoi in a taxi after conducting a human rights workshop for residents of Nghe An Province. The four were intercepted and beaten up by men they identified as plainclothes police officers driving two unregistered cars and five motorcycles. The assailants beat Mr. Nguyen Van Dai using metal bars, then dragged him into another vehicle, where masked men took his mobile phone, wallet, and other personal items, before finally releasing him about 50 kms from the place where the attack had taken place.

The Observatory recalls that it is not the first time Mr. Nguyen Van Dai is being intimidated or judicially harassed. Also, in 2007, Mr. Nguyen Van Dai was sentenced to five years in prison and four years probationary detention (house arrest) on charges of anti-government propaganda. The sentence was reduced to four years on appeal (see background information).

The Observatory condemns the arbitrary arrest of Mr. Nguyen Van Dai, as well as the charges against him, which seem to be aimed at sanctioning him for his legitimate and peaceful human rights activities. The Observatory calls on the Vietnamese authorities to immediately and unconditionally release him and to drop all charges held against him. Moreover, the Observatory is concerned over the authorities’ ongoing crackdown on bloggers and human rights activists, which has significantly worsened during the year 2015.

Background information:

Since Mr. Nguyen Van Dai founded the Committee for Human Rights in Vietnam (now named the Vietnam Human Rights Centre) in November 2006, he has been summoned repeatedly for police interrogations because of his statements in favour of human rights and democracy. During the meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), which took place in Hanoi from November 17 to 19, 2006, 10 security police officers surrounded his home and prohibited all visitors.

On February 28, 2007, following pressure from Security Police, the Business Registration Office of Hanoi’s Planning and Investment Bureau issued a “Decision” to withdraw the licence of the Translation and Legal Consultation Firm (TNHH) in Hanoi, of which Mr. Nguyen Van Dai is a co-founder and the Executive Director.

On March 6, 2007, security forces raided the residence of Mr. Nguyen Van Dai in Hanoi and placed him under arrest. He was charged with “spreading propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” (Article 88 of the Criminal Code).

On May 11, 2007, the People’s Court of Hanoi sentenced him to five years’ imprisonment and four years’ house arrest under Article 88 of the Criminal Code.

On November 28, 2007, the Hanoi Appeals Court reduced his sentence to four years’ imprisonment and four years’ house arrest.

Following his release in 2011, Nguyen Van Dai continued his human rights activities, submitting testimony to international institutions. He founded the “Brotherhood for Democracy” in 2013.

In June 2013, his house was bugged by the police, and in January and March 2015, his door was twice broken down by police.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in Vietnam urging them to:

i.Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Nguyen Van Dai and all other human rights defenders in Vietnam;

ii.Immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Nguyen Van Dai as his detention seems to merely sanction his human rights activities and is contrary to national and international law;

iii. Put an end to all acts harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Nguyen Van Dai, as well as against all human rights defenders in Vietnam;

iv.Amend Article 88 of the Criminal Code, to bring it in conformity with international human rights standards;

v.Comply with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular:

– its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”,

– as well as Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

vi.More generally, ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Vietnam.

Addresses:

H.E. Mr. Pham Binh Minh, Minister of Foreign Affairs, 1 Ton That Dam St., Ba Dinh District, Hanoi, Vietnam; Tel: 84-4-37992000; 080 48235; Fax: 84-4-38231872 – 84-4-37992682, Email: [email protected]

  • H.E. Mr. Nguyen Thai Binh, Minister of Interior, 37A Nguyen Binh Khiem St., Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi, Vietnam; Tel: 84-4-39764116 – 84-4-39764278; Fax: 84-4-39781005
  • H.E. Mr. Ha Hung Cuong, Minister of Justice, 56-60 Tran Phu St., Ba Dinh District, Hanoi, Vietnam; Tel: 84-4-37336213 – 84-4-37338068 ; Fax: 84-4-38431431
  • H.E. Mr. Tran Dai Quang, Minister of Public Security, 44 Yet Kieu St., Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, Vietnam; Tel: 84-4-069 42545 – 84-4-048 226602; Fax: 84-4-9420223
  • H.E. Mr. Vu Duc Dam, Minister, Office of the Government (OOG), 1 Hoang Hoa Tham St. Ba Dinh District, Hanoi, Vietnam; Tel: 84-4-80 43100 ; 84-4-80 43569; Fax: 84-4-80 44130
  • Mr Nguyen Trung Thanh, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotential, Permanent Representative, 30 chemin des Corbillettes, 1218 Grand-Saconnex, Geneva, Switzerland; Tel (Assistant): +41 022-791 85 40; Phone: +41 (0) 22 791 85 40; Fax : +41 (0) 22-798 07 24; Email : [email protected]
  • HE Mr. PHAM Sanh Chau, Ambassador, Boulevard Général Jacques 1, 1050 Brussels, Belgium. Tel: +32 (0)2. 379 27 37 and (0)2.379 27 49 ; Fax : +32 (0)2. 374 93 76; Email : [email protected][email protected]

Please also write to the embassies of Vietnam in your respective country.

***

Paris-Geneva, December 18, 2015

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

  • E-mail: [email protected]
  • Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
  • Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

World Organization against Torture: Viet Nam: Arrest and arbitrary detention of Mr. Nguyen Van Dai, a human rights lawyer and well-known defender of religious freedom

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Letter of Three Members of U.S. Congress to Demand for Immediate and Unconditional Release of Mr. Nguyen Van Dai

The U.S. Congress

Washington, Dec 18, 2015

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung

Dear Prime Minister

We are writing to repeat the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Nguyen Van Dai and the withdraw of all charges against him. His arrest is an an example of a series of aggressive state-sponsored actions taken against him, including a severe beating by plainclothes seccurity official earlier this month and a four year prison term started almost immediately after Vietnam joined the World Trade Organization with the support of the United State.

Mr. Dai has a long history of working on human rights issues, including on human trafficking and assisting religious group register with the Vietnamese government. He also met with a Member of the U.S.’s Congress, Rep. Chris Smith prior to his arrest in 2007. The crime he has been charged with under Article 88 of the Penal Code “conducting propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam” does not equate with his actions, which have been peaceful political expression, advocating universally-recognized human rights, and providing legal assistance. The Vietnamese government’s use of Article 88 to arbitrarily silence human rights defenders and hold them without trial for long period without legal councel was widely criticized by the United Nations at Vietnam’s Universal Periodic Review in 2013.

Vietnam has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, (ICCPR), which protects the right to freedom of opinion and expression (Article 19), and the right to liberty and security of a person, which includes the right to not be subjected to arbitrary arrest and detention (Article 9).

We hope that a trial will never occur, but in the event Nguyen Van Dai does stand trial, we request that the Vietnamese government and its judiciary respect the rule of law and ensure international fair trial standards be applied, as the ICCPR also guarantees the right to a fair trial (Article 14). This includes being tried as expeditiously as possible, to have free choice of legal representation, an opportunity to prepare and present a defense, and for all proceedings to be held fairly and in public.

American officials have stated repeatedly that in order for there to be an improved relationship between our countries, Vietnam needs to improve its record in the area of human rights. Nguyen Van Dai’s arrest, the recent attacks on other human rights defenders, and the continued imprisonment of the largest number of political prisoners in Southeast Asia remain a serious obstacle to stronger bilateral relations.

We look forward to hearing from you on this matter.

Sincerely

Rep. Christopher H. Smith, Member of Congress

Rep. Loretta Sanchez, Member of Congress

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Member of Congress

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Fourth Vietnamese Detainee Dies in Police Custody within Month

Defend the Defenders: Mr. Do Hoai Linh in Vietnam’s southern province of Binh Phuoc, who was detained by local police from Dec. 1, died on Dec 17 in a hospital, becoming the 4th death of detainee in police custody in the Southeast Asian nation within a month.

Mr. Linh is a suspect of stealing a cell phone which the owner found it several hours after informing the police in Long Phuoc ward of Phuoc Long town. However, the ward police continued to hold him in detention.

His family member named Thanh said when he was invited by the police to meet Linh in the ward police station, he saw that Linh was handcuffed to a window. When Linh was transferred to the town police, the detainee’s leg was injured, Thanh claimed.

During the night of Dec 5, police informed Do Hoai Vu, a younger brother of Linh that his brother was in critical conditions in Binh Phuoc province’s General Hospital due to kidney failure and elevated liver enzyme.

Vu said he saw his brother in unconscious with many bruises on his legs and head. The younger brother was allowed to see Linh in three minutes and expelled by police.

The local authorities said they are investigating the death of Linh, who is the fourth detainee died in unclear circumstances during police detention in the country in the past 30 days. Authorities said they deaths were caused by diseases although their families recognized numerous injuries caused by torture on their bodies.

On Nov 19, Trinh Xuan Quyen, a 16-year boy in the Central Highlands province of Dak Nong who was arrested for two months by Cu Jut district police for being investigated on allegation of stealing a motorbike of his cousin, died in a local hospital.

The district police, who held him in detention from Oct 30, said the victim died from heart attack. His family claimed that the boy was healthy before being detained.

Le Van Hai, 22 from Dak R’la commune in Dak Mil district of Dak Nong, was arrested five months ago for allegation of throwing stones to buses. He died on Dec 13, several days ahead of the scheduled trial against him.

Mr. Hai’s family affirmed that there are severe injuries on his face, legs, arms and chest while police’s autopsy said the victim died from heart attack.\

The last victim was Doan Thai Son, 32, from Binh Thuan ward, Buon Ho town in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak. Mr. Son, a bank official of the DongA Bank,  was accused of conducting financial fraud of VND2.7 billion ($120,000). Son fell on asthma during police detention on Dec 11 and died on the same say.

Vietnam adopted the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 2014, however, many people were found dead or with severe injuries when they were detained in police station nationwide.

Around two dozens of detainees have died or received severe injuries during police detention in the country so far this year.

Torture for coerced confession is systemic in Vietnam which is ruled by communists for decades, according to the New York-based Human Rights Watch.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security reported 226 deaths of detainees in police’s custody between September 2011 and October 2014. Police said most of the deaths were caused by illness and suicides, however, families of the victims believe that the real causes are police abuse of power.

DTD: Fourth Vietnamese Detainee Dies in Police Custody within Month