Vietnam Human Rights Defenders Weekly July 25-31: Hundreds of Activists Beaten, Badly Treated as Vietnamese Communist Gov’t Continues Persecution to Maintain Political Control

Vietnam Human Rights Defenders Weekly  |Jul 31, 2016

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Vietnam’s communist government has continued its persecution to maintain its political control, beating and harassing hundreds of local political dissidents, social activists and human rights advocates between January 1 and July 18, according to the statistics of Defend the Defenders.

Since the beginning of 2016, Vietnam’s authorities have applied numerous measures to silence government critics, social activists and human rights advocates. Before and after the 12th National Congress of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam in late January, local security forces continuously harassed, intimidated and persecuted activists. Hundreds of activists had been detained, beaten and suffered other kinds of suppression in the first half of this year.

There were 17 cases in which dozens of Vietnamese activists were brutally beaten by police officers and plainclothes in police stations or on the street between January 1 and July 18. Due to these attacks, many activists suffered from serious injuries and needed medical treatment and recovery.

Vietnam’s security forces also detained hundreds of activists during peaceful demonstrations, kidnaping dozens of them for interrogation or preventing them from attending peaceful gatherings or meeting with foreign diplomats. Many activists reported that they were placed under de facto house arrest during weekends and weekdays.

Vietnam has arrested a number of activists, including prominent human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai and his assistant Ms. Le Thu Ha, land rights activist Can Thi Theu and pro-democracy medical doctor Hoang Van Giang and charged them with controversial Articles 88 and 245 of the Penal Code. The detainees have been kept in detentions for months without being brought to court and have not been allowed to be visited by their family members.

In March, Vietnam imprisoned eight activists, including prominent blogger Nguyen Huu Vinh (aka Anh Ba Sam).

During the first session of the on-going 14th National Assembly, the country’s highest legislative body, the 494-member parliament formally re-elected key state positions, including the top legislator, the president and the prime minister. The rubber-stamp parliament did not pay attention to the nation’s urgent issues, including China’s aggression in the East Sea (South China Sea) and the environmental disaster in the central coastal region caused by the discharge of huge volume of toxic industrial waste by the Taiwanese Formosa steel plant in Ha Tinh.

After being re-elected, NA’s Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan criticized local activists for their criticisms of China’s expansionism in the East Sea, saying their peaceful demonstrations caused social disorders and instability in the country.

The parliament has also decided to delay its working on the draft law on demonstration until 2018 despite the call of a number of legislators.

And many other important news

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===== July 25 =====

Amnesty International Condemns Recent Attacks on Vietnamese Activists and Their Relatives

Defend the Defenders: On July 22, the London-based Amnesty International issued a statement to condemn the three recent attacks against Vietnamese activists and urged the Vietnam authorities to immediately and impartially investigate these incidents and bring the perpetrators to justice.

According to the non-profit human rights organization, throughout July 2016, there were several attacks against political activists, human rights defenders, and their relatives.  These included three incidents within four days. The assault on July 10 against La Viet Dung, well-known for his online political activism, the attack against blogger and democracy activist To Oanh and the incident against Nguyen Trung Duc, a son of a former prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Ho Thi Bich Khuong three days later, bear striking resemblances and took place in circumstances that  strongly indicate the involvement of police or of people working under  police orders.

The three incidents outlined above were deliberate attacks. The circumstances surrounding these attacks raise serious concerns that these attacks were undertaken by or at the instigation of police, said Amnesty International.

Vietnam has a longstanding reputation of being one of Asia’s most prolific jailers of political activists and human rights defenders. Amnesty International conservatively estimates that there are currently at least 84 prisoners of conscience in the country.

In recent years, physical attacks against political activists and human rights defenders have increased, with scores injured in vicious assaults committed by men in uniform or plain clothes known or believed to be police.

VIETNAM: SERIES OF ATTACKS ON POLITICAL ACTIVISTS, HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS AND THEIR RELATIVES MUST BE INVESTIGATED

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Vietnam Minority Group’s Protest Met with Violence: Amnesty International

A spontaneous demonstration by ethnic and religious minority Ede in the Central Highlands of Vietnam on July 14 was violently suppressed, resulting in injuries to around 20 demonstrators, said Amnesty International. The arrests and incommunicado detention of at least seven demonstrators raises serious concerns about torture and ill-treatment, the London-based human rights group said.

A huge police operation in Ea Enao village, Buon Ma Thuot, Đak Lak province was initiated to clear crops planted by the local community on an area of approximately 100 hectares. The operation is believed to have been initiated in advance of the anticipated sale of the land – which is the ancestral land of members of the ethnic and religious minority group Ede that makes up the village – to a private company. In response to the operation, a spontaneous demonstration of around 400 villages took place which was quickly and violently suppressed by a group of armed police officers who were said to have outnumbered the villagers.

Dozens of demonstrators were beaten, including one pregnant woman being electrocuted with an electric baton, Amnesty International said. More than 20 villagers needed medical treatment but were turned away by clinics and hospitals in the area. At least seven demonstrators were arrested and are being detained incommunicado at an unknown location. Amnesty International has confirmed five detainees namely H Nuen Adrong, Y Pina Nie, Y Som Hwing, Y Tluk Hwing, and Y Nai Nie.

A huge police build-up remains in the vicinity of the village with military stationed nearby in Buon Ma Thuot city. Amnesty International has been informed that police have summoned local people who used Facebook to share information and images from the demonstration for questioning, and those using social media for these ends are being threatened with fines of between VND5 million ($225) and VND10 million.

Amnesty International calls on international community to pay attention to the case and write petition to Vietnam’s government agencies and diplomatic missions to demand an end to the suppression of demonstrations by Ede villagers and full respect for the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression, including on the Internet; call for the immediate and unconditional release of all individuals arrested for exercising their right to peaceful assembly, and for access of individuals arrested and charged with recognized criminal offences to their family and lawyers of their choosing in line with international standards and any medical treatment they may require; and call on the Vietnamese authorities to immediately stop clearing of ancestral land belonging to the Ede people, and ensure free prior and informed consent in relation to any planning or development of the land in line with international standards.

VIETNAM: MINORITY GROUP’S PROTEST MET WITH VIOLENCE

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New Parliament to Adopt Human Rights Laws: Re-elected Chairwoman

Defend the Defenders: Vietnam’s legislative body National Assembly in the 14th tenure will constantly improve its legislative performance to ensure that the laws it approves are feasible and comprehensive, said newly re-elected Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan.

Speaking at a press conference in Hanoi on July 23 after winning the one-candidate ballot for the top legislator post, Ngan said the parliament in the new term will continue to institutionalize specific provisions of the 2013 Constitution and the 12th Resolution of the ruling Communist Party in its 12th National Congress, and turn them into specific laws to meet the demands of the national renovation and international integration.

The parliament would also continue to review, adjust, supplement and issue new laws on human rights, particularly on rights in the realm of politics, economics, civil society, culture and social welfare in accordance with the 2013 Constitution and the UN conventions of which Vietnam is a signatory, she said.

The legislative body will improve the economic law system to create a comprehensive legal foundation for sustainable economic growth in keeping with the principles of the market economy and the commitments that Vietnam had made in bilateral, multilateral and regional free trade agreements, she noted.

Regarding its monitoring task, Ngan said the NA will continue to innovate and improve the quality of its surveillance activities, especially the legislators’ key monitoring role over the operation of the state.

“We focus on key issues concerning people, selecting the most vital and urgent plans that need the most extreme supervision. Those projects will be presented to the parliament for discussion and explanation at its sessions,” she was quoted as saying.

She stressed the importance of efficient co-operation between the parliament, the president, the government, the Supreme People’s Court, the Supreme People’s Procuracy and the State Audit in the implementation of state powers.

Vietnam has many laws, however, the implementation is problematic as their interpretation is in favor of state officials, observers said.

The country has been criticized by the U.S. and other Western countries as well as international organizations for suppressing and imprisoning numerous local political dissidents, social activists and human rights defenders.

Recently, Vietnam decided to delay working on the draft Law on Demonstration until 2018 while the draft Law on Association met strong protests from local activists.

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Vietnam Top Legislator Criticizes Activists for Voicing against China’s Violations

Defend the Defenders: Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, who on July 22 took oath as chairwoman of Vietnam’s highest legislative body National Assembly for the second time within three months, has criticized local activists for expressing their concerns about China’s violations of the country’s sovereignty in the East Sea (South China Sea), state media reported.

Speaking at a press conference in Hanoi on July 23, Ngan said some people and independent civil organizations have been vocal in protesting China’s aggressiveness in the East Sea. Those individuals have done nothing for the country but caused instability in the country, she said.

In order to protect the country’s sovereignty, there is no need to speak empty words about patriotism and incite others, she said.

She also reaffirmed Vietnam’s stance of respecting international law and welcomed the recent ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague which rejects China’s historic claims of nearly the entire East Sea, including the Vietnam-claimed Hoang Sa (Paracels) and Truong Sa (Spratlys).

The 13th tenure parliament in the 2011-2016 period when Ms. Ngan was vice chairwoman and later chairwoman from April this year, the legislative body occasionally mentioned the East Sea issue.

Vietnam has little tolerance for government’s criticism and makes all efforts to prevent spontaneous demonstrations although the rights of freedom of expression and assembly are enshrined in the country’s 2013 Constitution.

In the past six years, Vietnam’s communist government has violently suppressed peaceful demonstrations of local activists who protested China’s violations of Vietnam’s sovereignty in the East Sea. Numerous anti-China activists have been imprisoned, suppressed, intimidated and tortured by security forces.

Responding to Ngan’s comment, blogger Nguyen Truong Son said Vietnamese people have their right to speak up about all issues of the country, including the East Sea issue, and the parliament and its government, not ordinary people, have been paid by tax payers to work to settle these issues.

Prominent dissident Dr. Nguyen Quang A said the top legislator should not play down the roles of civil societies in addressing the nation’s problems.

In the communist Vietnam, the government considers independent, non-registered civil societies illegal. Last year, then Minister of Public Security and incumbent President Tran Dai Quang labeled independent civil societies as “reactionary organizations”.

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HCM City-based Environmentalist Tortured in Police Station for Filming, His Mouth Sealed with Tape

Defend the Defenders: Nguyen Phuong, an environmental activist in Ho Chi Minh City, was held for hours and tortured in a police station in Phu Xuan commune, Nha Be district on July 18 after filming the facility, according to local social networks.

According to Tin Mung Cho Nguoi Ngheo news website, Phuong, 26-year-old activist often participating in anti-Formosa demonstrations in May-June, and his friend went to the Phu Xuan commune police to request the return of the friend’s items which were illegally confiscated by the local police on June 30.

Police received his friend but did not let Phuong go inside the police station. Phuong took his cell phone to film the facility and then policemen detained him and took him to a closed room from 2 PM until mid-night without providing him food and drink.

At 11 PM, when Phuong’s friends came to the police station to request the police to release him, he called for help. Ten policemen, in order to prevent him from shouting out, filled his mouth with a dirty rag and sealed it with tape. They also tied his hands with tape and started to beat the young man until he collapsed on the floor.

Later, a police officer came to interrogate Phuong, but the detainee refused to cooperate, just demanding for a warrant if they want to arrest him.

At mid-night, police released Phuong, advising him not to participate in demonstrations which will harm the country’s stability.

Phuong said he was beaten by professionals as he felt great pain but the medical check-up found no trace of the beating.

Phuong is a student in Japan. He returned to Vietnam during summer holiday and on May 8, he participated in a peaceful demonstration to protest the toxic waste discharge of the Taiwanese Formosa steel plant which caused serious environmental disaster in the country’s central coastal region. He was shocked after witnessing police officers and plainclothes violently dispersing protestors. Many activists, including the elderly, female and children, were brutally beaten by security forces.

Police abuse is systemic in Vietnam, according to the New York-based Human Rights Watch. The Ministry of Public Security admitted that 226 detainees and suspected people died in police’s custody between October 2010 and September 2014. Police said most of these deaths were caused by illness and suicides while social networks and the families of the victims said their deaths were caused by police power abuse

Dozens of people were reported to have died in police’s custody since the beginning of 2014.

Few perpetrators have been punished for their power abuse, state media reported.

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World Bank: Human Rights All But Absent in New Policy

Human Rights Watch: The World Bank has refused to acknowledge its human rights obligations in its new policy framework, Human Rights Watch said today. The bank’s third, and most likely final, draft of its new environmental and social framework, published on July 20, 2016, does not require the bank to respect human rights. Instead, it only references human rights in its non-binding “vision” statement.

A subcommittee of the bank’s Board of Executive Directors endorsed the framework on July 20, allowing for its publication. It is expected that the framework will be approved when the Board of Executive Directors meets on August 4.

“In refusing to acknowledge its rights obligations once again, the World Bank anticipates it will be able to violate human rights without consequence,” said Jessica Evans, senior international financial institutions researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Rather than using this review of key environment and social policies to advance human rights and cement its role as a leader in development, the World Bank has done the opposite.”

Sources inside the World Bank told Human Rights Watch that World Bank management opposed language that would require the bank itself to respect human rights throughout its operations.

The new framework was in development for four years and includes some important reforms, including commitments to avoid discrimination and protect labor standards. It also requires governments borrowing from the bank to obtain the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous Peoples who traditionally own, occupy, or use land or natural resources that will be adversely affected by a proposed project. But the World Bank snubbed calls from the United Nations, human rights groups, and many of its shareholder governments when it refused to include binding human rights requirements in its new policies.

China, an increasingly influential World Bank shareholder, was the primary opponent of binding human rights requirements that would apply to governments borrowing from the bank. Other key shareholders, including several European governments and the United States, have pushed for human rights requirements.

When the Board of Executive Directors meets to approve the framework, it should agree to an inclusive process for drafting a new and separate human rights policy, Human Rights Watch said. The board is made up of 25 government appointees representing the bank’s 189 member countries. Such a policy should embody a commitment from the World Bank to integrate human rights into its work by analyzing human rights issues that are relevant to development in the context of its country strategies, to work with governments to comply with their human rights commitments, and to identify and address human rights risks linked to its investments or advice.

The World Bank’s own research indicates that the majority of development agencies around the world had adopted or were adopting human rights policies by 2013. Few agencies had no human rights policies at all, a publication by the World Bank and the international Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development revealed. Many businesses and commercial banks also now recognize that they should respect human rights. The World Bank remains a laggard in human rights when it comes to its policies and practices, Human Rights Watch said.

The costs that people bear when the World Bank overlooks human rights are high. In Vietnam, the bank financed activities in drug detention centers where people were arbitrarily detained, forced to work, and subjected to punishments that sometimes amounted to torture if they refused to work. In Uzbekistan, the bank ignored, for several years, forced labor practices in agriculture, despite being the key financier of the government in that sector. Now, while the bank recognizes the problem of forced labor, it is continuing business as usual while the government threatens and detains human rights defenders seeking to expose ongoing labor abuses, including in World Bank project areas. And in Ethiopia, Pastor Omot Agwa, who worked with the bank’s independent accountability mechanism to expose a range of abuses linked to a bank project, has been in prison for more than a year facing baseless terrorism charges.

The World Bank president, Jim Yong Kim, often quotes Martin Luther King Jr. In May, Kim suggested that King’s call for “vigorous and positive action” for civil rights could apply to climate change.

“The Bank has been quick to adopt the rhetoric of human rights while opposing it in practice,” Evans said. “Jim Yong Kim often quotes Martin Luther King Jr., but to quote King while leading the bank into another era of ignoring its rights obligations runs contrary to what King stood for.”

World Bank: Human Rights All But Absent in New Policy

===== July 26 =====

Vietnam Lawmakers Criticize Gov’t for Delaying Draft Law on Demonstration

Defend the Defenders: Vietnam’s lawmakers have criticized the government for delaying the draft law on demonstration after 2017. The country’s highest legislature National Assembly started discussion on the bill in 2014.

Lawmaker Truong Trong Nghia said rights to demonstrate is part of the human rights stipulated in the country’s 2013 Constitution and the parliament needs to make a law regulating people’s rights and obligations to implement the Constitution.

 

The state must assume its responsibilities for managerial work and by delaying a law that is constitutionalized, the state has yet to fulfill its mission, Mr. Nghia said.

He emphasized that demonstration must be understood as peaceful gatherings in accordance with the 2013 Constitution. Gatherings and publicity are the two major features of demonstrations, he said.
He noted that the more complicated an issue is, the better it should be managed by law. Law-based management is specific and civilized administration, he added.

Echoing Nghia’s opinion, lawmaker Bui Van Xuyen said that the government should assign the Ministry of Justice to perfect the draft law as soon as possible and the Ministry of Public Security to give opinions on it.

The drafting of the law was started by the Ministry of Public Security under the government of ex-Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in 2011. However, the Ministry of Justice said that there have been mixed opinions about the draft law and it needs more time to be completed.

Earlier this week, NA’s Vice Secretary General cum Vice Head of the Legal Committee Le Minh Thong said that the government needs more time to build the draft law before submitting to the parliament due to the difficulties and complication of the law.

Vietnam’s pro-democracy activists have criticized the government for long delay of the draft law which is necessary to fulfill and protect human rights, especially rights to hold peaceful demonstrations and express their opinions.

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Two Former Police Officers Remain to Head Vietnam Court, Procuracy

 

Defend the Defenders: Nguyen Hoa Binh and Le Minh Tri, two former senior police officers, have been formally re-elected by Vietnam’s legislative body National Assembly (NA) to head the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuracy in the 2016-2021 period, respectively.

The formal ballot was taken on July 26 at the ongoing first session of the communist-controlled parliament which was formed on July 20 from winners of the General Election on May 22.

Mr. Binh, a former major general, was elected to the post by the 13th parliament in April. In the 2011-2016 period, he was head of the Supreme People’s Procuracy.

Also in early April, the parliament formally approved the candidacy of Mr. Tri, a former lieutenant colonel, for chief of the Supreme People’s Procuracy to replace Mr. Binh.

Meanwhile, the parliament also re-elected Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh as vice president.

Binh, Tri and Thinh are members of the Central Committee of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam which has ruled Vietnam for decades.

Recently, many Vietnamese police generals have been appointed to senior posts, including President Tran Dai Quang, Politburo member and Head of the party’s Commission for Organization Pham Minh Chinh and Politburo member and Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh.

===== July 27 =====

Hanoi Encourages Overseas Vietnamese to Protest China’s Expansionism in East Sea, Suppressing Local Anti-China Activists

Defend the Defenders: The communist government in Hanoi has encouraged Vietnamese people in foreign countries to participate in demonstration to request China to respect the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague on the territorial and maritime disputes in the East Sea (South China Sea) but violently suppressed anti-China activists at home.

The state-run Vietnam News Agency has reported that Vietnamese in Germany, Poland, South Korea and Japan and other countries rallied in fronts of China’s diplomatic missions in these countries to protest Beijing’s violations of Vietnam’s sovereignty in the East Sea.

These anti-China demonstrations of Vietnamese abroad have been organized or supported by the Vietnam’s diplomatic missions in these countries, observers said.

Meanwhile, Vietnam’s communist government has harassed local anti-China activists, persecuting them and preventing them from gathering to hold peaceful demonstrations to support the PCA’s ruling.

A number of activists who participated in anti-China demonstrations in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and other localities had been beaten by plainclothes agents while Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, who was re-elected as chairwoman of the rubber-stamp parliament, criticized these activists, saying their peaceful protests aim to cause instability in the country.

The communist Vietnam has prioritized comprehensive strategic partnership with China, considering the giant communist nation as its closest political ally despite Beijing’s increasing aggressiveness in the East Sea.

===== July 28 =====

Parliament Will Not Discuss Formosa Issue in 2016-2017

Defend the Defenders: Vietnam’s legislative body National Assembly (NA) has decided not to put the environmental disaster caused by the Taiwanese Formosa steel mill on its agenda in the 2016-2017 period.

The communist-controlled parliament approved a resolution on its supervision program for 2017 which will focus on food safety and states administrative reforms, but failed to mention environmental issues, as many outspoken legislators proposed.

This could mean that companies like Formosa Ha Tinh steel plant, a subsidiary of Formosa Plastics Group that admitted in June that it had caused massive fish deaths along a 200 kilometer stretch of coastline in central Vietnam, may escape the scrutiny the public is demanding.

The NA’s Standing Committee said it has seen serious public concern over foreign-invested projects that pose considerable risks to the environment.

The mass fish deaths have reportedly devastated local fisheries, disrupted people’s lives and hit the tourism industry, while hammering the country’s economic growth, according to the Standing Committee.

The legislature decided on environmental law enforcement at economic zones and trade villages nationwide in 2012, said Nguyen Hanh Phuc, general secretary of the National Assembly, as an explanation for the fact that environmental issues and Formosa’s scandal have been left out of the 2017 supervision program.

NA’s supervision teams drew up a plan for environmental issues in 2012 which is being implemented, Phuc said.

“For the environmental incident caused by Formosa, the government has taken swift action to find the cause and deal with the consequences,” he continued.

The NA’s Standing Committee has assigned its committee of science, technology, and environment to investigate and supervise the enforcement of environmental laws at industrial and economic zones in the central coastal provinces of Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue, including operations at Formosa’s steel factory in Vung Ang Port.

“There should be a committee fully responsible for keeping Formosa under supervision. The Formosa scandal is not just a minor environmental incident, it’s a major disaster,” said lawmaker Vu Trong Kim.

The mass fish deaths started in April in the central province of Ha Tinh, about 400 kilometers south of Hanoi.

Farmers began to find dead fish on April 6 at aquatic farms near Ha Tinh province’s Vung Ang Port. More dead fish were subsequently found washed up on nearby beaches.

The problem quickly spread to the provinces of Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien – Hue along a 200km stretch of the coast.

The Agriculture Ministry said the four provinces all recorded declining coastal fisheries in the first six months of this year. Specifically, fishermen in Ha Tinh province caught 6% less fish, Quang Binh- 8.7%, Quang Tri- 14.3% and Thua Thien-Hue- nearly 30%.

Few days ago, the parliament elected Vo Kim Cu, who was responsible for granting license for Formosa steel plant, was promoted to be member of the NA’s Committee for Economics.

===== July 30 =====

Vietnam’s suppression against political dissidents, social activists and human rights defenders in the period between January 1 and July 18

Defend the Defenders: In order to keep the country under a one-party regime, Vietnam’s communist government has applied numerous measures to silence government critics, social activists and human rights advocates. Before and after the 12th National Congress of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam in late January, local security forces continuously harassed, intimidated and persecuted activists. Hundreds of activists had been detained, beaten and suffered other kinds of suppression in the first half of this year.

There were 17 cases in which dozens of Vietnamese activists were brutally beaten by police officers and plainclothes in police stations or on street between January 1 and July 18. Due to these attacks, many activists suffered from serious injuries and needed medical treatment and recovery.

Vietnam’s security forces also detained hundreds of activists during peaceful demonstrations, kidnaping dozens of them for interrogation or preventing them from attending peaceful gatherings or meeting with foreign diplomats. Many activists reported that they were placed under de facto house arrest during weekends and weekdays.

On April 10, Hanoi’s police arrested land rights activist Can Thi Theu, accusing her of causing public disorders under Article 245 of the Penal Code. In fact, she and other land petitioners attended peaceful demonstration to demand the government to respect human rights and return their land which was illegally seized by authorities nationwide.

Vietnam has still kept human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai and his assistant Ms. Le Thu Ha and in detention since December 16 last year for investigation on charges of conducting anti-state propaganda under Article 88 of the Penal Code. The two pro-democracy activists have not been allowed to meet with their family members since the arrest.

Police in Thanh Hoa have also kept pro-democracy activist Hoang Van Giang in detention for months in a trumped-up case, accusing him of possession of drug without solid evidence.

In March, Vietnam imprisoned eight activists, including prominent blogger Nguyen Huu Vinh (aka Anh Ba Sam) for their online activities which aimed to promote human rights in the Southeast Asian nation.

Family members of activists, including children of activists were also persecuted by Vietnam’s police forces.

Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Gia Lai and Lam Dong were the localities where local police showed highest level of brutality and disrespect of law by conducting numerous arbitrated detention.

For details: Vietnam’s suppression against political dissidents, social activists and human rights defenders in the period between January 1 and July 18

===== July 31 =====

Vietnam Activist Kidnapped While Cycling in Hanoi Streets

Defend the Defenders: Nguyen Van Dien, a Vietnamese pro-democracy activist and environmentalist, has reportedly been disappeared while cycling together with other environmentalists on the streets in central Hanoi, social networks reported.

On the morning of Sunday [July 31], Mr. Dien, 35, and nearly ten other activists rallied in Hanoi’s center. They wore T-shirts with message saying Hoang Sa (Paracels) and Truong Sa (Spratlys) belong to Vietnam.

During their journey, the activists were followed by a group of around twenty individuals which are believed to be plainclothes agents, said activist Nam Phuong, one of the cycling activists.

Dien, who has participated in a number of peaceful demonstrations against China’s violations of the country’s sovereignty in the East Sea (South China Sea) and the Taiwanese Formosa Plastic Group, was in the last position. He suddenly disappeared at 10.45 AM when the group arrived in Hang Khay Street, said blogger Nam Phuong.

The activists tried to connect Dien by cell phones but received no answers.

Activists suspected that he was kidnapped by Hanoi’s security agents. Blogger Nam Phuong said she recognized one of many men who were on a motorbike following the activists closely is a police officer of Trang Tien ward.

The activists came to Trang Tien ward police station to ask information about Mr. Dien, but the police rejected to holding him.

Until 11 PM, Activists are still staying near the police station to wait for him.

Other activists supposed that Hanoi police may deport him to his home province of Yen Bai. On May 8, Dien was arrested while participating in a protest against Formosa and was deported to his home town.

Vietnam’s security forces have applied a number of measures, including assaulting, kidnapping, detaining and deporting local political dissidents, social activists and human rights defenders to silence them.

Vietnam’s communist government has little tolerance for its critics and applied many measures to prevent spontaneous demonstrations. It has ordered the security forces to assault, kidnap and detain as well as block activists in order not to allow them to organize or participate in peaceful protests.

Last week, after being re-elected as chairwoman of the country’s highest legislative body National Assembly, Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, member of the ruling communist party’s Politburo, criticized anti-China activists, saying their peaceful demonstrations aim to cause instability in the country.

Since the beginning of 2016, dozens of government critics, social activists and human rights defenders have been brutally assaulted by plainclothes agents while hundreds of others have been detained to police stations where many of them were interrogated and tortured by police officers, according to the statistics of Defend the Defenders.

Vietnam’s communists have vowed to maintain a one-party regime and made all effort to prevent the establishment of political opposition.