Please Help Defend Writer Huynh Ngoc Tuan Whose Sternum Was Broken by Agents of Vietnam’s Public Security Forces!

Chan Minh, January 8, 2014

Từ trái: Lê Nguyên Sang, Phan Văn Lợi, Nguyễn Hữu Giải, Huỳnh Ngọc Tuấn và Phạm Bá Hải tại Huế ngày 28/12/2013
From left: Doctor Le Nguyen Sang, Catholic Priest Phan Van Loi, Catholic Priest Nguyen Huu Giai, Writer Huynh Ngoc Tuan and Human rights defender Pham Ba Hai in Hue city, Dec 29, 2013

In a post dated January 4, 2014 (1) and also in a Youtube.com video (2), Mr. Huynh Ngoc Tuan told the story of the savage beating he received when traveled to Hanoi with a friend, Mr. Pham Ba Hai, to visit friends who are dissidents and/or human rights activists. These friends were: Father Phan Văn Lợi, Father Nguyễn Hữu Giải, lawyer Nguyễn văn Đài,   Dr. Phạm Hồng Sơn, lawyer Lê Thị Công Nhân, Miss Phạm thanh Nghiên, Mr. Nguyễn vũ Bình, and Mr.  Phạm văn Trội.

The beating Mr. Huynh Ngoc Tuan received took place at a Public Security Forces Station located 15.5 miles from Hanoi and in the Chương Dương hamlet of Thường Tín District. Mr. Huynh Ngoc Tuan, Mr. Pham Ba Hai, and lawyer Le Thi Cong Nhan and her husband had gone there to visit Engineer Pham Van Troi, a well known dissident. While at the home of Mr. Pham Van Troi, members of the local Public Security Forces barged in, and after some lengthy altercations, Mr. Huynh Ngoc Tuan and everyone in his party were eventually forced to go to the local Public Security Forces station. There, Mr. Huynh Ngoc Tuan was singled out, sequestered in a room, and the same members of the local Public Security Forces took turns punching him repeatedly on his head and chest with  “the intent to kill him dead”, as Mr. Huynh Ngoc Tuan recalled. Immediately after his return to Hanoi, Mr. Huynh Ngoc Tuan went to the Hong Ngoc clinic, a private medical practice; to have his wounds looked at. Regarding this medical check-up, lawyer Le Thi Cong Nhan had this to say:

“When I got there, I recognized that some of the people there are actually members of the secret services who previously had followed and repressed me. They were pretending to be working as members of the staff of this hospital. The doctor who examined Mr. Huynh Ngoc Tuan was extremely patronizing, he showed no humanity whatsoever in the way he speak and ask questions. I am sure that someone had replaced the regular staff of the hospital with members of the secret services, and/or succeeded in pressuring the hospital to let them do so. So although Mr. Huynh Ngoc Tuan now has a medical diagnostic, all I can say is this diagnostic is meaningless and can’t be trusted.” (3).

Chestbone brokenFor the above reasons, when he got back to his hometown, Tam Kỳ in Central Vietnam, Mr. Huynh Ngoc Tuan saw another doctor for a re-examination. This doctor came up with a very different diagnostic: Broken sternum. No damages to the soft tissues of the lungs”. (See Figure 1: X-Ray Examination Record)

A broken sternum is a serious injury that may lead to severe chronic pains and/or conceal even more serious injuries to the heart, the lungs, and the upper body nervous and vascular system. When a sternum is severely broken as in a compound fracture, surgery is likely to be required. However, the usual treatment for a simple broken sternum is for the patient to take plenty of rest and avoid all shocks to the bone, and taking painkillers when the pain becomes unbearable. A broken sternum usually heals itself within a few months. (4)

Two things stand out when reviewing the events surrounding the savage beating Mr. Huynh Ngoc Tuan received.

Nhà văn Huỳnh Ngọc Tuấn bì gãy xương ức do công an xã Chương Dương đánh ngay trong đồn.
Nhà văn Huỳnh Ngọc Tuấn bì gãy xương ức do công an xã Chương Dương đánh ngay trong đồn.

First and foremost is the leading role of the government of Vietnam. The government coordinated and led all activities from the center in Hanoi to the regions in the Chong Duong Hamlet. Once it discovered that Mr. Huynh Ngoc Tuan and friends were visiting dissidents and human rights activists, the government followed him and sent a team to the Chong Duong Hamlet to direct and oversee local members of the Public Security Forces in beating him up. Moreover, governmental intervention didn’t just stop there. Somehow the government knew that Mr. Huynh Ngoc Tuan and his friends would return to Hanoi and that he would check in at a local private hospital to get a diagnostic on his wounds. And thus, it had members of its secret service masquerading as healthcare professional waiting for Mr. Huynh Ngoc Tuan at the clinic to provide him a fake diagnostic and some fake medical care, as denounced by lawyer Le Thi Cong Nhan.

The second and even more horrifying thing is the fact that government secret services – or the Public Security Forces – had no problems convincing the professional staff of a private medical clinic to let them impersonate bona fide medical personnel to provide fake medical diagnostic and care to Mr. Huynh Ngoc Tuan. Everybody knows that medical ethics is the most important attribute of anyone working in the medical field. To provide proper care to a patient is the first and only priority of a medical professional. If the real and credentialed medical staff at a medical institution could be replaced at will by agents of the Public Security Forces or the secret service who have with no medical training at any level whatsoever, if these fake replacements could deliver “medical services” at will, how can the welfare of any patient be assured? Given that this situation was reported by lawyer Le Thi Cong Nhan, a honorable and very reliable witness who actually identified some of the medical staff at the clinic as members of the Public Security Forces that followed and harassed her in the past, it is very important that the leadership of the Hong Ngoc Medical Clinic clarifies this matter. And they must do so as soon as possible. They must let the people know if the clinic was a willing accomplice or coerced into accepting the shenanigans of the members of the secret service or the Public Security Forces. And regardless of what transpired, actual harms were done to Mr. Huynh Ngoc Tuan. Thus, in all fairness, the Hong Ngoc Medical Clinic owns Mr. Huynh Ngoc Tuan a) a public apology and b) some compensation. In the meantime, it would be wise for the citizens of Hanoi to stay away from this clinic until the whole story is known.

The fact that a government – the government of Vietnam in this case – could stoop so low as to have members of its secret service or Public Security Forces impersonate medical personnel to deliver medical diagnostics and treatments to human rights activists and dissidents they just harassed and beat up an inch to their death is probably unprecedented in human history and thus utterly revolting. That such a thing is happening in Vietnam now marks a very big step backward toward savagery for Vietnamese society in general, and for medicine in Vietnam in particular.

A patient by nature is helpless. To use fake medical personnel to falsely diagnose and then offer fake or no medical treatment to a patient is to flagrantly and horrifyingly trample on both conscience and medical ethics. Thus, all Vietnamese working in the medical field, wherever they are, must be outraged at what has transpired. They must do all they can to condemn and resist such deeply immoral intrusions of the police state into the practice of medicine. Just think about this: Can you, or can anyone, stay alive in a hospital if the medical staff treating your wounds or ailment is exactly the same one that just harassed and tortured you?

The hunt for and the repression of people such as Mr. Huynh Ngoc Tuan, who did nothing except to exercise his most basic human rights – the right to speak his mind, the right to go wherever he pleases, the right to assemble and meet with other people, be it his friends or other dissidents – within the boundaries guaranteed by the nation’s constitutions and laws, is a serious violation of the International Human Rights Charter. That the Government of Vietnam has ratified this Charter makes such a violation even more severe.

Moreover, confining a human rights activist, namely Mr. Huynh Ngoc Tuan in this case, in a closed room so that members of the public security forces – people who are on the government payroll – could take turn beating him savagely to near death, is an act that could only be defined as torture. When then ink is hardly dry on Vietnam’s signature ratifying the International Conventions Against Torture (5), when Vietnam is the newest member of the UN Commission on Human Rights, what the Government of Vietnam did to Mr. Huynh Ngoc Tuan is truly despicable and unworthy of its new and heightened international stature. We all must be outraged and we all must condemn what the government of Vietnam did.

Therefore, we appeal to the United Nations to send a new investigative team to Vietnam to review and report back to the UN on the government of Vietnam’s use of medical professionals as tools in the repression and killing of human rights activists and dissidents in Vietnam. At the same time, we urge the United Nations to continue to investigate and report on gross human rights violations in Vietnam such as the systematic implementation of a policy aimed at repressing, beating, and torturing human rights activists and dissidents.

We appeal to international institutions such as the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the World Health Organizations, and all other organizations who are sponsors and/or stakeholders in healthcare related initiatives and projects in Vietnam to immediately suspend their activities in Vietnam pending a reviews of the facts related to the Huynh Ngoc Tuan incident described in this article and elsewhere. It is imperative that these institutions must act expeditiously to express their outrages and concerns regarding the blatant use, by the government of Vietnam, of fake medical personnel to deliver fake medical diagnostics and care to human rights activists they just beat up and/or tortured.

We call upon the government and the elected officials of all free and democratic nations to categorically condemn the Vietnamese government for using secret service agents and/or members of the Public Security Forces as fake medical professionals at public and/or private hospitals to repress, harm or kill outright human rights activists and dissidents that these very same secret service agents and members of the Public Security Forces had just beaten and/or tortured. At the same time, we continue to appeal to the same governments and elected officials to keep voicing their concerns regarding the human rights situation in Vietnam and applying the appropriate pressure to convince the Government of Vietnam to stop all activities aimed at repressing, harming, torturing, or killing dissidents or human rights activists such as Mr. Huynh Ngoc Tuan.

We call upon all people of the world to communicate to their government and elected officials their concerns regarding the deteriorating human rights situation in Vietnam, and to urge these governments and elected officials to do whatever they can to pressure the Government of Vietnam to stop turning medical services and medical professionals into tools for members of the secret services and/or the Public Security Forces to use in repressing and harming or killing Vietnamese human rights activists and dissidents.

We hope, and we firmly believe, that in the end, the voice of human rights, justice, and national and international public opinion shall prevail!

References

1. Huỳnh Ngọc Tuấn. 2014. “Đòn Thù Của Công An CSVN” (‘Vengeful Beating by the Vietnamese Communist Public Security Forces.”) Internet:  http://www.vietnamhumanrightsdefenders.net/2014/01/05/don-thu-cua-cong-csvn-huynh-ngoc-tuan/

2. Youtube.com. 2014. “Phỏng Vấn Huỳnh Ngọc Tuấn Sau Khi Bị Đánh Ở Chương Dương” (“An Interview with Mr. Huynh Ngoc Tuan after his beating at Chuong Duong Hamlet”). Internet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzGaSe-osM4

3. Đài Á Châu Tự Do (Radio Free Asia). 2014. “Bị Công An hành hung khi đi thăm bạn tù” (“Assaulted by Public Security when visiting fellow former prisoner”). Internet: http://www.rfa.org/vietnamese/vietnamnews/dissident-assaulted-12312013132745.html

4. Wikipedia. 2014. “Sternal Fracture”. Internet: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sternal_fracture

5. Báo Nhân Dân Điện Tử. 2013.  “Việt Nam tham gia Công ước chống tra tấn.” (Vietnam Joins the International Convention Against Torture”). Internet: http://www.nhandan.com.vn/chinhtri/tin-tuc-su-kien/item/21605102-viet-nam-tham-gia-cong-uoc-chong-tra-tan.html