Vietnam Human Rights Defenders Weekly December 21-27: Vietnam Continues Harassing Human Rights Defenders after International Condemnation

Defenders’ Weekly | Dec 27, 2015

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Police forces across Vietnam have continued their persecution against local human rights defenders after the country received international condemnation.

On Monday, thugs attacked democracy advocate Truong Van Dung with liquid acid near a police station in the capital city of Hanoi when he went to demand police to return a cell phone and memory cards they illegally took from him several days earlier. A thug threw acid at his head, causing light injuries to his eyes and face.

On Christmas day, police in Ho Chi Minh City arrested labour activist Hoang Duc Binh for disseminating leaflets about Vietnam’s commitment on independent labor unions. When other activists came to a police station where Binh was held to demand for his release, police brutally assaulted them, inflicting severe injuries on many people, including prominent labor activist Do Thi Minh Hanh. Mr. Binh was released one day later after being tortured by police officers.

On the same day, plainclothes agents in the northern province of Ha Nam attacked human rights activist Tran Thi Nga and her two children with a dirty mess which caused serious injuries to one of her offspring.

The U.S. government, many international human rights bodies and local activists continue to protest Vietnam’s arrest of human rights advocate Nguyen Van Dai and his assistant Le Thu Ha, demanding their immediate and unconditional release.

And many other important news

=========== Dec 20===========

U.S. ‘deeply concerned’ by arrest of Vietnam rights activist

Reuters: The United States said on Monday it was deeply concerned by the arrest of a Vietnamese human rights lawyer and called on Hanoi to release all prisoners of conscience.

Rights activist Nguyen Van Dai, who was badly beaten this month by unknown attackers, was arrested last week for anti-state “propaganda,” the latest incident in what rights groups are calling an alarming crackdown on government critics.

“We’re deeply concerned by the arrest of human rights advocate Nguyen Van Dai under national security-related article 88 of Vietnam’s penal code,” U.S. State Department Spokesman John Kirby told a regular news briefing.

“We urge Vietnam to ensure its laws and actions are consistent with its international obligations and commitments, and (call) on the government to release unconditionally all prisoners of conscience.”

Despite sweeping reforms to its economy and increasing openness toward social change, including gay, lesbian and transgender rights, Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party retains tight media censorship and zero tolerance for criticism.

Relations with the United States have warmed in recent years, particularly given shared concerns about China’s increasingly assertive behavior in Asia and a desire by Washington to conclude a sweeping Trans-Pacific Partnership pact.

Washington has partially lifted a long-standing embargo on arms sales to Vietnam, but its full removal is dependent on further improvement in human rights.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch says Vietnam is holding at least 130 political prisoners.

It says there has been a reduction this year in what it calls politically motivated trials and convictions in Vietnam, but called this an attempt to gain favor while trade deals, such as the TPP, to which Vietnam is a party, were being finalised.

Activists say Dai, the 47-year-old founder of the Committee for Human Rights in Vietnam, and three associates were brutally beaten by about 20 unidentified men wielding sticks after they participated in a human rights workshop.

A representative of the United Nations human rights commissioner condemned that attack and said activists’ allegations that it was carried out by plain-clothes police should be fully addressed.

Reuters: U.S. ‘deeply concerned’ by arrest of Vietnam rights activist

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Vietnamese Activists, EU Slam Arrest of Dissident Lawyer and Blogger

Radio of Free Asia: Vietnamese human rights activists and foreign diplomats voiced shock and concern this week over Wednesday’s arrest of dissident lawyer and blogger Nguyen Van Dai on charges of conducting “propaganda against the state.”

Dai, 46, was taken into custody by more than two dozen police officers one week after masked assailants beat him and other activists in what he called a reprisal for educating members of the public about their human rights.

Dai’s arrest came as a surprise and “disappointment” to many in Vietnam’s human rights community, blogger Huynh Ngoc Chenh told RFA’s Vietnamese Service on Friday.

“Vietnam had just joined the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and it looked like Vietnam was relaxing and showing signs of progress toward democracy and human rights,” said Chenh, who was named Netizen of the Year for 2013 by the Paris-based press freedoms group Reporters Without Borders.

Chenh noted that the arrest came just a month before a scheduled meeting of the National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam, which is held once every five years and is often preceded by a crackdown on dissent.

“This was a warning from the government,” he said.

Broken commitments

“Vietnam has made commitments with the international community with regard to human rights, but they still continue to arrest people,” Chenh said.

“There has been no improvement at all in the government’s behavior,” he said.

Before his arrest, Dai—a well-known rights lawyer and former political prisoner who occasionally writes blog posts for RFA—had been on his way to meet with representatives of the European Union, which had held a bilateral human-rights dialogue with Vietnam the day before, Dai’s wife Vu Min Khan told RFA.

“He went to see the EU representatives because they had already arranged the meeting ,” Khan said.

“There were people outside who followed him, but we had seen them before so we thought this was normal. That’s why I was so surprised when they read the arrest order,” she said.

“Dai has good relations with other countries’ diplomats. That’s why the government was worried. That’s why they decided to arrest him,” she said.

‘Serious concern’

Dai’s arrest while on his way to meet EU representatives shows that Vietnam’s government feels it can safely ignore public opinion both at home and around the world, Hanoi-based activist Truong Van Dung told RFA.

“They have defied everyone,” Dung said.

“Lawyer Dai has great influence both inside and outside the country, which is why they were worried and why they felt they had to stop him at any cost,” he said.

In a statement Thursday, Bruno Angelet, head of the European Union delegation to Vietnam, joined ambassadors to Vietnam from EU member states in voicing “serious concern” over Dai’s arrest.

“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,” the statement said.

In accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Vietnam is a party, all persons enjoy a “fundamental right” to hold opinions and peacefully express them, the statement said.

Call for reforms

Earlier this week, New York-based Human Rights Watch had called for the EU to “press for concrete and measurable improvements on human rights” ahead of its bilateral dialogue with Vietnam in Hanoi—the outcome of which it said should be made public.

Human Rights Watch said that 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.

It said that authorities in Vietnam appear to have changed tactics from arrests to intimidation and violence, with assaults against bloggers and rights activists worsening significantly during 2015, adding that the country still holds at least 130 political prisoners.

Last month, lawyers Tran Thu Nam and Le Van Luan, who had advised the family of a young man who died in police custody, were brutally attacked in Hanoi by a group of thugs wearing masks, leaving them bloody and bruised.

At the time, Dai told RFA that the government may have ordered the attack to set an example for others who might try to challenge the authorities.

RFA: Vietnamese Activists, EU Slam Arrest of Dissident Lawyer and Blogger

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Hanoi-based Activist Attacked with Acid by Thugs Near Police Station, Five Days after

Defend the Defenders: Mr. Truong Van Dung, a political activist in Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi, on Dec. 21 was attacked with acid by thugs near a police station, just five days after Dung was tortured by a group of five police officers.

A thug threw liquid acid at Mr. Dung, 57, when he and other activists and land petitioners went to the police station in Bach Khoa ward in Hai Ba Trung district to demand for return of his cell phone and memory cards the police took from him five days ago.

While Dung and his friends took lunch at a pavement few meters from the police station, one of the thugs threw a bottle of liquid acid at his head. Feeling severe pain, he shouted loudly and other activists realized that he was attacked by acid, and watered him immediately for preliminary treatment.

The assault was witnessed by many uniformed police officers and thugs. Activists believe the assault was aimed at threatening them. The policemen did nothing and let the attacker run away.

Mr. Dung was immediately taken to a local hospital for urgent treatment. The medical test showed that he was attacked with liquid acid. Luckily, he suffered only light injury to his eyes, face and head.

Five days earlier, Mr. Dung was detained by Hanoi police when he was together with human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai, who was arrested on December 16 and charged with conducting anti-state propaganda under Article 88 of the country’s Penal Code. Police took Dung to the Bach Khoa ward police station where he was questioned and beaten by a group of five police officers who finally took his iPhone and eight memory cards without making a minute for the confiscated items.

They verbally pledged to return the items on the next day, however, Dung couldn’t come to the station on Saturday to take his iPhone and memory cards due to severe pains resulting from the police torture.

Today, when Dung came to demand for returning his items, police refused to give them back as they promised. Instead, they mobilized a large number of thugs who threatened Dung and his friends.

The attack with liquid acid was among a series of assaults of thugs and policemen against Mr. Dung in the past few years due to his engagements in peaceful campaigns calling for political reforms and better human rights protection as well as protection of the country’s sovereignty in the East Sea amid rising aggressiveness of China.

Last year, he was severely beaten by two thugs who broke his several ribs during an attack near his private house.

Mr. Dung is among many Vietnamese political dissidents, social activists and human rights defenders who have suffered from brutal assaults at the hands of thugs and police officers. Other victims of government-supported attacks are labor activists Do Thi Minh Hanh and Truong Minh Duc, human rights lawyers Nguyen Van Dai, Tran Thu Nam and Le Van Luan, bloggers Nguyen Huu Vinh, Nguyen Tuong Thuy, Dinh Quang Tuyen, Doan Trang and Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, former political prisoners Chu Manh Son and Tran Minh Nhat, land rights activist Tran Thi Nga, environmentalists Nguyen Chi Tuyen, Trinh Anh Tuan, and Dinh Thi Phuong Thao, and even street patriotic musician Ta Tri Hai.

Last week, the EU, the London-based Amnesty International, the New York-based Human Rights Watch and the Stockholm-based Civil Rights Defenders expressed their concerns about recent barbaric attacks against Vietnamese activists, demanding Vietnam’s communist government to take proper measures to end these attacks to ensure security for them and bring the perpetrators to justice in line with Vietnam’s international human rights obligations.

Earlier this month, the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 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.”

Vietnam’s government has intensified its crackdown against local activists ahead of the communist party’s National Congress slated in early 2016. Vowing to keep the country under a one-party regime, the communist party has requested the security forces to prevent the establishment of opposition parties.

Recently, Minister of Public Security General Tran Dai Quang, who is expected to hold higher positions in the next five years, labeled all unsanctioned civil society organizations as “reactionary groups”.

DTD: Hanoi-based Activist Attacked with Acid by Thugs Near Police Station, Five Days after

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Vietnamese soccer team’s goal isn’t on the field; it’s in politics

Washington Post: They came together during protests against China’s expansionist moves in the South China Sea. The protesters were harassed by the Vietnamese police, and dozens were arrested; their attempts to meet in cafes were blocked. So they came up with an innovative idea.

“According to the law, everyone has the right to play football,” said Nguyen Chi Tuyen, an activist and blogger. “So we found a way we can all gather together.”

That way was to form a soccer team.

For four years, dozens of players and supporters of No-U FC have gathered every Sunday in Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital, to kick a ball around — and talk politics. They also have joined together in political campaigns and in charitable work.

In the process, they have helped give birth to a small but growing civil society movement in Vietnam that is emerging as a new challenge to Communist Party rule.

No-U refers to their opposition to the U-shaped “nine-dash line” that China draws on maps to assert its sovereignty over most of the South China Sea. FC stands for football club, although some also use an English-language expletive that might be abbreviated that way to describe their attitude toward China.

Like many Vietnamese, they are angry that China seized control of the Paracel Islands after a battle with South Vietnamese forces in 1974; that it continues to harass Vietnamese fishermen; and that it has now embarked on a massive program of land ­reclamation in the Spratly archipelago. But the anger goes deeper.

“In the beginning, we joined together against China,” said a player who gave his name only as Duc to avoid harassment by police. “But we know the problem is not China, it is our government. The governments in Vietnam and China are the same Communists — they are connected.”

The club now has hundreds of members nationwide. Some have been jailed — two are currently in prison. But others have large followings on Facebook.

During No-U FC’s fourth-anniversary party, the lights suddenly went out in the restaurant it had booked and a group of men burst in and started throwing bottles around and overturning tables, apparently to intimidate members.

Owners of soccer fields have come under pressure to withdraw permission for No-U FC to play, and an entire tournament was canceled when the police found out the team was among the competitors.

But it is away from the soccer field that the members say they have had their greatest impact.

To forge links with ordinary people, they have built schools in poor, rural areas and have supported farmers who have been thrown off their land to make way for development. In March, they added their weight to a campaign against government plans to chop down thousands of trees in Hanoi. Public pressure was so intense that the city government put a stop to the felling.

In November, several members of No-U FC took to the streets again to protest a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

As members of No-U FC describe it, the issues are all connected. The Communist Party in Vietnam, they say, is not defending their country’s national interests in the South China Sea because it depends on China’s Communist leaders to shore up its rule.

“The people who raise their voice against China, it is not just about China,” said a female member of the club who gave her name as Tuyet. “Our target is democracy — multiparty democracy, freedom and a more equal society.”

Vietnam’s Communist government fiercely suppresses dissent, and although about 50 political prisoners were freed in the past year during negotiations with the United States over a Pacific Rim trade pact, about 150 are thought to remain behind bars, according to Freedom Now, a Washington-based advocacy group.

But times are changing here, and civil society is growing. Inter­net penetration has mushroomed, with nearly 45 million people — almost half the population — now online. Facebook is enormously popular among the young.

“The state’s long-standing attempt to shape public opinion is crumbling under the reality of a relatively open online environment,” Michael Gray said in a research report on the Vietnamese Internet for SecDev, a Canadian think tank.

Physical attacks against dissidents and bloggers have increased — Tuyen says he was badly beaten up in May by plainclothes members of the security forces — and 14 citizen-journalists are in prison, according to Reporters Without Borders.

But the government gave up on an attempt to block Facebook in 2009 after its restrictions were easily bypassed, and Gray says social media are building bridges between dissidents and the general population.

In January, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said that Facebook was so widely used that it was impossible to ban. He argued that the government had to do a better job at getting its message across.

In this environment, No-U FC has inspired others to form small civil society groups across Vietnam. The unregistered groups work on anything from land rights to advocating the release of political or religious prisoners, and their members say they are frequently harassed by the government. The government says there are 60 such groups, with hundreds of members.

“We are trying to spread our views on Facebook, to wake up others,” Duc said. “A lot of people don’t care about politics because they are scared of the Communist Party, that they will get put in prison. We are trying to prove we are not scared. The number of people who care about politics is growing.”

Lawyer and dissident Le Quoc Quan said about 300 people came to meet him at his home after he was released from jail in June, including a delegation from No-U FC and five government officials, despite a round-the-clock police guard.

“Why were people not afraid to come? Because they have the means of communication,” he said.

Public opinion surveys by the Pew Research Center show that Vietnamese people overwhelmingly favor free-market capitalism, but only 38 percent want to see multiparty democracy introduced in their country.

Yet the dissidents are gaining traction, and in anger at China they have seized on a powerful issue that unites many people here. In soccer terms, they may be the plucky underdogs, but they believe they can pull off victory against the odds.

“Civil society is small, it is fragile and its growth has been slower than I expected,” said Nguyen Quang A, a prominent intellectual, dissident and member of the Civil Society Forum who credits No-U FC with blazing a trail for others to follow.

“But I am quite optimistic,” he said. “You cannot tell when you will reach the tipping point.”

Washington Post: Vietnamese soccer team’s goal isn’t on the field; it’s in politics

=============== Dec 23===============

Urgent Action: Human Rights Activist Held, At Risk of Torture

Amnesty International, Dec 23, 2015: Vietnamese lawyer Lê Thu Hà, a human rights activist, was arrested on 16 December, at the same time as prominent human rights lawyer Nguyễn Văn Đài, a colleague. No other activists have been allowed to see her, and she is at risk of torture and other illtreatment.

Lawyer Lê Thu Hà is believed to have been detained when security officers searched human rights lawyer Nguyễn Văn Đài’s home in the capital, Ha Noi, after he was arrested in the morning of 16 December (see UA 292/15, https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/asa41/3098/2015/en/). She is the secretary of the independent organization he founded, the Brotherhood of Democracy Association. She is now detained in B14 prison in Ha Noi, pending investigation. It is not known if she has been formally charged.

Lê Thu Hà had been arrested on 23 September with four other staff members of the independent Lương Tâm (Conscience) TV, set up in August 2015 to broadcast short video clips on YouTube about human rights issues in Viet Nam. She was an English translator for the broadcasts. Ha Noi security police held the five for questioning

until late in the evening. In April, the authorities confiscated Lê Thu Hà’s passport as she was about to fly from Ha Noi to Ho Chi Minh City where she was planning to board an onward flight abroad.

Activists tried to visit Lê Thu Hà at B14 prison on 20 December, but were refused permission. She is at risk of torture and other ill-treatment. Human rights defenders facing criminal charges are subject to severe and often brutal treatment during pre-trial detention and investigation.

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

 Urging the authorities to release Lê Thu Hà immediately and unconditionally as she is a prisoner of conscience detained solely for exercising her right to freedom of expression and promoting human rights;

 Urging them to ensure that she is not subjected to torture or other ill-treatment;

 Urging them to treat her in accordance with the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners and to ensure that she is given full access to lawyers of her choice, her family and any medical attention she may require.

 

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 2 FEBRUARY 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]

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Lê Thu Hà is not known to have been charged. However, it is likely that she will also be charged under Article 88 of the Penal Code, like Nguyễn Văn Đài, with “conducting propaganda” against the state and held for an initial four months for investigation.

Visits from family or lawyers are not usually allowed during this period, which may be extended.

Viet Nam is a 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 Viet Nam. Vaguely-worded articles in the national security section of Viet Nam’s 1999 Penal Code are frequently used to criminalize peaceful dissent. 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, social justice activists and even songwriters.

Prison conditions in Viet Nam are harsh, with food and healthcare 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 subjected to severe and often brutal treatment during pre-trial detention and investigation. This includes physical violence, intimidation, humiliation and solitary confinement, amounting to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment which often continues for months or even years. It is done to force detainees to confess.

Treatment after trial and conviction is also harsh. Prisoners of conscience have been held in solitary confinement as punishment for lengthy periods. They have also been tortured of otherwise ill-treated: this can include other prisoners beating them, while prison guards do nothing. Some prisoners of conscience are frequently moved from one detention facility to another, often without their families being told. Several prisoners of conscience have undertaken hunger strikes in protest at abusive treatment and poor conditions of detention.

Amnesty International: VIETNAM: HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST HELD, AT RISK OF TORTURE

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Thousands of Children in Hanoi Outskirt Boycott School to Protest Land Seizure

Defend the Defenders: Thousands of children in Ninh Hiep commune in Hanoi’s district of Gia Lam have refused to go to school to protest the local authorities’ plan to seize land for a trade center building, state media has reported.

The children, who have boycotted school since Dec 21, join their parents in street demonstration to oppose the grabbing of their land on which they depend for business, newspapers said.

The local schools have tried to persuade the children while the local authorities have sought to threaten their parents, however, the children say no to school.

One parent said they will not send their offspring back to the school for ten days or longer.

Earlier this month, local authorities decided to build a trade center on a local parking lot where local traders use as a place for loading and unloading clothes and apparel products.

The local residents strongly oppose the construction, saying they will lose place for their business.

Land dispute is a problematic issue in Vietnam where all the land belongs to the state and people have only right to use it.

Thousands of Vietnamese have remained without land after local authorities seized their land for urban and industrial development without paying reasonable prices.

Vietnam’s communist government has violently suppressed land petitioners. Many of them have been imprisoned on fabricated charges of conducting public disorders.

Radio of Free Asia: Vietnamese Students Protest Against Plans For Commercial Center in Hanoi Suburbs

============== Dec 24=============

70 CSOs and Political Organizations, 900 Human Rights Defenders Jointly Call for Release of Attorney Nguyen Van Dai and His Assistant Le Thu Ha

Former Vietnamese Prisoners of Conscience: On the morning of 16 December 2015, as he just left his house to go and meet with the European Union mission in Hanoi for human rights dialogue Attorney NGUYEN VAN DAI (born 1969) was forced by public security police to go back inside his home.  They read to him a warrant for his arrest in accordance with Article 88 of the Penal Code (“propaganda against the state”) and an Order to search his home.  Simultaneously and also in Hanoi, LE THU HA (born 1982) had her home searched then she was taken away.  Both are now being held at Detention Center B14 in Hanoi.

Attorney Nguyen Van Dai is a courageous and persistent activist for human rights and democracy in Vietnam.  In 2006 he founded the Committee for Human Rights in Vietnam which called on the government to respect the citizens’ basic human rights and implement democracy.  In 2007 he was arrested and given four years in prison to be followed by four years probation in accordance with Article 88 of the Penal Code.

After he came out of jail and completed his probation period, he actively organized and participated in social activities demanding civil rights in Hanoi and in various provinces.  In terms of organizations in April 2013 he founded the Democracy Brotherhood (http://haedc.org/) which is one of the groups actively engaged in working for democracy and human rights.  In February 2014 he was made North Vietnam Coordinator of the Former Prisoners of Conscience Association (http://fvpoc.org/), a NGO with members being former prisoners of conscience both inside and outside of Vietnam.  In October 2015, in order to promote the movement for respect of human rights he reactivated the Committee for Human Rights in Vietnam (which had been in existence since 2006) and changed it to the Vietnam Human Rights Center (http://vnhrc.org/).

As far as his activities are concerned, Nguyen Van Dai ceaselessly expressed his opinions regarding all aspects of social life and of the country, from the unwarranted deaths while in police custody to demonstrations of land right petitioners, various government policies, the government leaders and especially, the situation in the East Sea/South China Sea.

Attorney Nguyen Van Dai regularly meets with diplomatic missions of various countries, with parliamentarians from many democratic nations and with international human rights activists to ask that they put pressure on the dictatorial regime in Vietnam so that it has to respect human rights and implement its international pledges and obligations.

Even though he has completed his probation period, Nguyen Van Dai is under 24/24 surveillance by a posse of plainclothesman police who prevent him from leaving his home for various appointments and activities.  They even installed listening bugs in the wall of a neighboring home and set surveillance cameras on the home opposite to his home.  On several occasions he has been attacked and beaten up by police posing as thugs, with the two most serious incidents happening in May 2014 and recently on 6 December 2015 in Nghe An province.

NVD-LTH-campaign

Activist LE THU HA started being noticed when she published poems of her own dealing with social problems.  Only gradually did she step on the bumpy road of democratic struggle for Vietnam.  Not long after the Democracy Brotherhood was founded she voluntarily participated in it.  With her good English she was made secretary in charge of correspondence on behalf of the Democracy Brotherhood.  But even before, she had been detained for many hours and had her means of communication confiscated because of her participation in the Luong Tam TV (“Conscience TV”) team–this is a television program started by dissenters inside Vietnam.

All the activities of Attorney Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thu Ha fall within the fundamental human rights, including the freedom of association, the freedom of opinion, the freedom to peacefully assemble and the freedom of movement.  And in exercising these freedoms, the activists are entitled to using means, individual or otherwise, to promote and defend human rights in Vietnam.

The government of Vietnam must respect its international commitments in the implementation of human rights standards, among which is the commitment to create room for non-governmental information, room for civil societies and room for human rights defenders.  The arrest of Attorney Nguyen Van Dai and Ms. Le Thu Ha on the morning of 16 December 2015 is a totally illegal and unworthy move by the government of Vietnam, especially when it is a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

On that basis, we, the undersigned civil societies, political organizations, and individuals both inside Vietnam and in the Diaspora, hereby attach our signatures to demand that the government of Vietnam release unconditionally Attorney Nguyen Van Dai and Ms. Le Thu Ha.

Vietnam, 23 December 2015

Signed by:

900 Human rights hands(https://web.facebook.com/quangson.ly.91/media_set?set=a.1733540030200177.1073741842.100006325901650&type=3&uploaded=9&__mref=message_bubble)

CSOs, Political Organizations:

  1. Former Vietnamese Prisoners of Conscience, Vietnam: Dr. Nguyễn Đan Quế, Father Phan Văn Lợi
  1. Brotherhood for Democracy, Vietnam: Mr. Phạm Văn Trội, Mr. Nguyễn Trung Tôn
  1. Bach Dang Giang Foundation, Vietnam: Mr. Phạm Bá Hải (MBE)
  1. Vietnam Human Rights Network, USA: Dr. Nguyễn Bá Tùng
  1. Defend the Defenders, Vietnam: Mr. Vũ Quốc Ngữ
  1. Saigon Newspaper, Sài Gòn: Father Lê Ngọc Thanh
  1. Civil Society Forum, Vietnam: Dr. Nguyễn Quang A
  1. Vietnam Path, Vietnam: Mr. Hoàng Dũng
  1. Viet Tan Party: Mr. Phạm Minh Hoàng;
  1. Vietnam Unity Party, Vietnam: Mr. Lê Ái Quốc
  1. Bloc 8406 Supporters Movement, Canada: Mr. Lạc Việt
  1. People’s Democratic Party, Việt Nam: Mr. Lê Nguyên Sang
  1. The P7 Group, California, USA: Mr. Trần Long
  1. Vietlist.us Group, California, USA
  1. Women for Human Rights, Hoa Kỳ: Jane Do Bui, Lanney Trần
  1. Van Lang Group, Praha, Czech.
  1. Bloc 1906, Sydney, Australia: Mr. Trần Hồng Quân.
  1. Vietnam Situation Forum – Paltalk System (Diễn Đàn Hội Luận Phỏng Vấn Hiện Tình VN Hệ Thống Phát Thanh PALTALK)
  1. Viet Democracy Party, California, USA: Mr. Nguyễn Thế Quang
  1. Federation of Vietnamese Au Co Women, USA- Australia: Mrs. Thien Thanh
  1. Canadian Youths for Human Rights in Vietnam, Ottawa, Canada: Ms. Khue-Tu Nguyen
  1. Vietnamese Bloggers Network, Việt Nam: Mrs. Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh
  1. Block 1706, Sydney, Australia: Mrs. Bảo Khánh
  1. Vietnam UPR Working Group, Việt Nam: Mr. Phạm Lê Vương Các
  1. Vietnam Human Rights Organization, Germany: Mr. ĐẶNG LÂM
  1. Delegation of VIETNAMESE UNITED BUDDHIST SANGHA); Vietnam: Ven. Thích Không Tánh
  1. Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam, Sài Gòn: Dr. Phạm Chí Dũng
  1. Vietnam – US Lutheran Alliance Church, Vietnam: Pastor Nguyễn Hoàng Hoa
  1. HUMAN RIGHTS RELIEF FOUNDATION, AUSTRALIA: Mr. Dang Trung Chinh
  1. Association of Bau Bi Tuong Than, Vietnam: Mr. Nguyễn Tường Thuỵ
  1. Rally for Democracy and Pluralism, France: Mr. Nguyễn Gia Kiểng
  1. Lac Hong Footsteps, Vietnam: Mr. Nguyễn Anh
  1. Lotus Revolution Movement, Vietnam: Mr. Nguyễn Bá Đăng
  1. Association To Protect Freedom Of Religion, Vietnam: Ms.Hà Vân
  1. Representatives of the Popular Council of Cao Dai Church: Mrs. Bạch Phụng, Mr. Hứa Phi
  1. Viet Tan Relief Group, USA: Anna Nguyen
  1. Hannover Vietnam Centre, Germany: Mr. CHÂU LÂM
  1. Vietnamese Christian Church in Auckland, New Zealand: Mr. David Tong, Ms.Hoài Mai Phượng.
  1. Republic Party of Vietnam, Vietnam: Mr. Trịnh Quốc Thảo
  1. Overseas Vietnamese Media TV, USA: Mr. Nguyễn Đình Toàn
  1. Associatie VanVietnamese Vluchtelingen in Nederland (Cộng Đồng Việt Nam Tỵ Nạn Cộng Sản Tại Hòa Lan): Mr. Nguyễn Hữu Phước
  1. Vietnamese Community in Liege, Belgium: Mr. Lê Hữu Đào
  1. Orthodox Hoa Hao Buddhist Church: Mr. Lê Quang Hiển, Mr. Lê Văn Sóc
  1. Vietnamese Women Movement for Fatherland (Phong trào Phụ nữ Việt Nam hành động cứu nước), USA: Mrs. Trần Thị Hồng Khương
  1. Rally for Democracy (HỌP MẶT DÂN CHỦ): Mr. LÂM ĐĂNG CHÂU
  1. THE VIETNAMESE ELDERLY ASSOCIATION OF THE WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN AREA, USA: Mr. Nguyễn Mậu Trinh
  1. National Force for the Salvation of the Fatherland; California, USA: Mr. Trần Quốc Bảo
  1. SAIGON FOR SAIGON MOVEMENT (Phong trào Quốc dân Đòi trả tên Sài Gòn), Auckland, New Zealand: Father Nguyễn Hữu Lễ
  1. Contemporary Movement of Dien Hong, USA: Mr. Phạm Trần Anh
  1. Vietnam Republic Solidarity Movement, USA: Mr. Nguyễn Thanh Liêm
  1. Religious Freedom and Human Rights Supportive Movement for Vietnam, USA: Ven. Thích Nguyên Tri
  1. People’s Movement for Upholding Democratic Flag, USA: Mr. Cao Xuân Khải
  1. Vietnamese Political And Religious Prisoner Friendship Association, USA: Doãn Hưng Quốc
  1. Bloc 8406 in South California, USA: Mr. Vũ Hoàng Hải
  1. Overseas Vietnamese Tao Dan Literature Club, USA: Mr. Vũ Lang
  1. Rally of Dong Tam, New South Wales, Australia: Mr. Lý Việt Hùng
  1. Prisoners Of Conscience Fund, Australia: Mr. Phùng Mai
  1. Block 8406 Radio & Tivi, USA: Amiee Hoàng Lam Hương
  1. Vietnam Democracy Organization (Tổ chức Dân chủ Việt Nam), California, USA: Mr. Nguyen Thanh Trang
  1. Free Journalists Club, California, USA: Mr. Nguyễn Văn Hải
  1. Vietnamese Women For Human Rights, Vietnam: Mrs. Trần Thị Nga, Mrs. Huỳnh Thục Vy
  1. CPC Lobby Committee), California, USA: Mr. Nguyễn Tấn Lạc
  1. Alliance for Vietnam’sDemocracy and Human Rights (Hội Đồng Liên Kết Đấu Tranh Dân Chủ Nhân Quyền Cho Việt Nam), California, USA: Mr. Lạc Việt
  1. Workers & Farmers Solidarity Association, Việt Nam: Mr. Trương Quốc Việt, Mr. Nguyễn Mai
  1. National Congress of Vietnamese Americans(Nghị Hội Toàn Quốc Người Việt tại Hoa Kỳ), USA: Prof. Nguyễn Ngọc Bích
  1. Vietnamese Canadian Community of Ottawa, Canada: Mr. Ha Quyen Nguyen
  1. Viet Labor, Vietnam: Ms. Đỗ Thị Minh Hạnh
  1. Block 8406, Vietnam: Mr. Đỗ Nam Hải.
  1. Nguyen Kim Dien Priests Group, Vietnam: Father Nguyễn Hữu Giải
  1. National Force to Raise the Flag of Democracy of Vietnam (Lực lượng Quốc dân Dựng cờ Dân chủ), USA: Mr. Tran Quoc Huy.

And 914 Vietnamese in the country and abroad

============= Dec 25============

Vietnam Persecution Wave against Activists Continues ahead of Communists’ National Congress, Children Also Targeted

Vietnam’s police nationwide have been intensifying persecutions against local activists ahead of the ruling communist party’s National Congress, targeting political dissidents, social activists and human rights defenders and even their young children.

In Ho Chi Minh City, police on December 25 detained about ten activists, beating them brutally before releasing them.

The incident started on Friday afternoon when police in Hoa Thanh ward, Tan Phu district arrested Mr. Binh, 33, who earlier in the day disseminated leaflets on the rights of independent labor union.

Police detained Mr. Binh and confiscated 3,000 leaflets of independent Viet Labor which contain a statement of Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung saying Vietnamese workers have right to form their labor union independent from the government, as the country has committed during negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.

Informed about the detention, a dozen activists in HCMC gathered at the Hoa Thanh police station to demand for the unconditional and immediate release of Mr. Binh. Police rejected their demand, detained many of them and beat them barbarically. Among the victims of police assaults were Ms. Do Thi Minh Hanh, Tran Bang, Pham Van Ngoc Long, Huynh Thanh Phat, Ho Thi Kim Ninh and Vu Ngoc Han.

Police officers broke Ms. Ninh’s left arm while Mr. Long suffered severe injuries in his belly.

In the early hours of Saturday, police released all activists but kept Mr. Binh until afternoon of the same day. Binh, who was said to have vomited after being tortured by police officers in Hoa Thanh ward, is with numerous severe injuries in his body.

Ninh and Long were taken to a local hospital for emergency, activists said.

On Saturday, police continue to harass activists in HCMC, blocking many of them from going out, said Mrs. Pham Thanh Nghien, one of the victims.

This is the second police assault within one month against Ms. Hanh, leader of independent Viet Labor which aims to protect the Vietnamese workers. On November 22, Hanh and her colleague Truong Minh Duc were detained and beaten by police in the southern province of Dong Nai when the duo tried to assist local workers to settle labor disputes with a South Korea-invested firm which fired around two thousand of its workers without proper reasons.

Meanwhile, plainclothes agents in the northern province of Ha Nam targeted land and labor rights activist Tran Thi Nga and her two children, one is five and the other three years of age. When Ms. Nga and her offspring went to celebrate Christmas in her city in the evening of Friday December 25, thugs threw a mess of mam tom (a sauce made by fermented shrimp) at them. Due to the attack, her older son Phu developed numerous nodules on his face while all their clothes and heads were covered with the dirty substance. Nga, who has been a subject of the local police’s torture in recent years, said the local police are responsible for the attack. She also blamed that they tried to organize a “traffic accident” to kill her and the children.

On Monday, a thug attacked Hanoi-based activist Truong Van Dung with liquid acid near the police station in Back Khoa ward in Hai Ba Trung district when he, accompanied by numerous activists and land petitioner, went to the police station to demand for the return  of his cell phone and memory cards which the police took from him earlier. Instead of returning his illegally taken items, police deployed numerous thugs to threaten activists and attack him. (For full report of the attack, you can read here: http://www.vietnamhumanrightsdefenders.net/2015/12/21/hanoi-based-activist-attacked-acid-thugs-near-police-station-five-days-tortured-robbed-policemen/)

Vietnam’s government has intensified its crackdown against local activists several weeks ahead of the ruling communist party’s National Congress slated on Jan 20-28, 2016.

Ten days ago, on December 16, Vietnam arrested human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai and his assistant Le Thu Ha. Police charged Mr. Dai with conducting anti-state propaganda under Article 88 of the country’s Penal Code, which carries a sentence of between three and twelve years.

In mid December, Vietnam also sentenced Nguyen Viet Dung, the founder and leader of the unsanctioned Republican Party of Vietnam to 15 months in jail under the fabricated charge of conducting public disorders during a peaceful demonstration on environmental issues in the capital city of Hanoi.

Responding to the ongoing wave of attacks and arrest against Vietnamese human rights defenders, the UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights, the EU, the London-based Amnesty International, the New York-based Human Rights Watch and the Stockholm-based Civil Rights Defenders all urged Vietnam’s government to stop these assaults and bring the perpetrators to justice in line with the country’s international commitments and obligations on human rights.

The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 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.”

So far, Vietnam’s authorities have rejected allegations that it is supporting these attacks against local activists, saying these assaults were conducted by people from the criminal world. However, they also refused to conduct serious investigations to bring the attackers to justice.

Prominent blogger Truong Minh Nhat, who is a former prisoner of conscience, sarcastically labeled the government-back thugs as the person of the year in 2015.

Vowing to keep the country under a one-party regime, the Vietnamese communist party has requested the security forces to prevent the establishment of opposition parties.

Recently, Minister of Public Security General Tran Dai Quang, who is expected to be promoted to one of the country’s four key leadership positions for the next five years, labeled all unsanctioned civil society organizations as “reactionary groups”.

Vietnam has used fabricated allegation to silence the government critics. According to Human Rights Watch, Vietnam is holding 130 political prisoners.

TDT: Vietnam Persecution Wave against Activists Continues ahead of Communists’ National Congress, Children Also Targeted

 ================= Dec 27==================

 Thousands of Vietnamese Pray for Detained Activists Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thu Ha

 Defend the Defenders: Thousands of Vietnamese gathered in Hanoi-based Thai Ha and Saigon-based Redemptory Churches on December 27 to attend special praying for human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai and his assistant Ms. Le Thu Ha, who were arrested on December 16 and charged with anti-state propaganda under Article 88 of the country’s Penal Code.

 Attendants of the events were local activists and Catholic followers who hang up banners to demand for inconditional and immediate release of Mr. Dai and Ms. Ha who will be held for four months for investigation.

The prayings were among series of activities of Vietnamese democracy advocates and human rights defenders in Vietnam and abroad in a bid to pressure the communist government to end the ongoing crackdown against local dissidents and social activists and release all political prisoners.

According to the New York-based Human Rights Watch, Vietnam is holding around 130 political prisoners.