Huynh Trong Hieu reports on the illegal and forced arrest and detention of human rights ativists.

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Defend The Defenders | 8/9/2014
Translation by Huỳnh Thục Vy
Tell the World

[themify_box style=”blue rounded” ]On the morning of September 5, 2014, at 7:30 AM, as Ms. Huynh Phuong Ngoc opened the door of her house at 305/16 Truong Chinh Street, Ward 14, Tan Binh District, to walk out and go work, she was stopped by two uniformed members of the Public Security Forces. Simultaneously, several members of the same Forces and guards from civil defense units came forward and pushed her house door wide open to prevent her from closing it.[/themify_box]

Alerted by the commotion that resulted, Ms. Nguyet, a woman who lives in the same house, joined Ms. Ngoc at the door. There, the two women asked that the members of the Public Securities Forces produce a house search warrant. They refused and instead insisted that they must search the house to conduct a head count of the people who live in the house.

Faced with the illogical and illegal demand by the members of the Public Security Forces to  conduct a search and headcount and offended by the the disdain that they had for the rights and the freedom of the people, the two women vigorously protested. However, all resistance was futile.

After about 15 minutes of back and forth with the two women, the Public Security Forces changed tactics. They asked to work directly with me – Huynh Trong Hieu – on matters regarding household member registration. I refused and asked them to leave the house. Voices were raised, and they asked me to present my personal identity papers.

I must add here that I have repeatedly updated and submitted to the Public Security Forces Station of Ward 14 my Household Member List along with the request that they review and certify it but to no avail. Each time, the responsible officials at the Ward 14 Public Security Forces Station declined to address my requests and offered innumerable reasons why they couldn’t do so. I told many news organizations about the troubles I have with my Household Member List. This way, everybody will see how wrong the behavior of the Ward 14 Public Security Station was.

About 20 minutes later, six or seven uniformed members of the Public Security Forces pushed their way inside the house and asked us to go the Ward 14 Public Security Station to be interrogated. We didn’t accept their illegal request. We asserted that we are free citizen and if they want to arrest us they must have a Court Warrant.

When we said that, a member of the Public Security Forces screamed: “If you don’t comply, you will be forcibly taken to the Station.” He then grabbed my shoulders and kneed me in the back. His action dropped me flat on my belly on the ground. As I hit the ground, four uniformed members of the Public Security Forces jumped on me. They pinned me firmly down on the ground by pressing on my arms, legs, and neck. They  nearly suffocated me in the process.

One of the plain-clothed people whom I know is a Public Security Forces officer then issued an order: “Take him away!” And so the four members of the Public Security Forces who were pinning me down on the ground grabbed my arms and legs, dragged me on the ground along the narrow street, and then threw me on a waiting car as a large number of passers-by watched.

Two of the four members of the Public Security Forces who dragged me out then jumped on the car with me. They violently attempted to subdue me. Then another plain-clothed member of the Public Security Forces joined them. He cursed me non-stop and threatened to kill me. I met this guy before. It was at the District 1 Public Security Forces Station where I was taken after my arrest for participating in an anti-China demonstration. Then and there, he had threatened to kill me right in front of several other members of the Public Security Forces. To this day, I still remember his murderous face as he made these threats.

As my head was pushed against the inside of the car, I heard someone groaning. Twisting my neck to look out, I saw Ms. Phuong Ngoc being violently thrown into the car also by yet another member of the Public Security Forces. This guy  was also muffling her mouth with with one of his hand while twisting her neck to the side with the other hand.

As the two of us were being transported away, Ms. Ngoc sobbed and tearfully told me told that she saw members of the Public Security Forces tussling with and then applying a choke hold on my wife, Nguyen Thi Anh Ngan. The choke hold caused her to let go of our baby boy whom she was holding and he dropped on the ground.

The two of us were taken to the Ward 14 Public Security Station. There, we were ordered to sit still on our chair and not move around. Surrounding and guarding us were many members of the Public Security Forces. About 15 minutes later, my wife was escorted into the Station while our 8 month old baby boy, Con Bang, was carried in by a woman who was unknown to us. Also escorted into the Station along with my wife was Ms.  Nguyet. She is a veteran land grab protester who lives in the same house as us. As far as I know, she is also very active in the human rights movement.

My wife demanded that they returned her baby boy to her so that she can breastfeed him as he didn’t eat anything yet since this morning. They refused to grant her wish and instead decided to keep us away from our baby boy.

We screamed in protest.  My wife truly lost her composure and she kicked or grabbed anything and everything within reach. Both of us were quickly overpowered. They then us forced into another room and told us that once we are in there, they will return our baby boy to us.

So in another room we went. But they didn’t return our baby boy to us. Instead, they bought some milk for him. I didn’t know what kind of milk they gave him. As we argued about that with them, a female member of the Public Security Forces threatened to slap the face of our baby boy right in front of the other detainees and members of the Public Security Forces.

I was then isolated and kept waiting for close to 20 minutes in a room of the second story of the Station. Then someone gave the order to transfer all detainees from Ward 14 including me to the Tan Binh Public Security Station. Thus, all of us were led out, pushed into a van and then driven to that Station.

I met Ms. Bui Thi Nhung at the Tan Binh District Public Security Forces Station. She was also a temporary resident of the home at 305/16 Truong Chinh Street. When forcibly arrested by Public Securities Forces, she was still in her night gown.

During our incarceration at the Tan Binh District Public Security Station, each one of us were held in a separate room. We couldn’t leave the room we were in without the consent of the members of the Public Security Forces who were guarding us. A guard followed us every time we go to the bathroom.

Of special interest is how Mr. Vo Thanh Son, a member of the Public Security Forces who interrogated us behaved. He was particularly vicious. He never stopped cursing and insulting us. His behavior made the interrogation sessions very tense and nerve wracking.

We must add an important detail here. On the morning we were arrested, September 5, 2014, the many civil societies in the city had scheduled a meeting to discuss human rights issues at the Ky Dong Church, a church administered by the Redemptorist Catholic Church in Saigon. For four days, Public Security Forces monitored our activities continuously. I assert that such monitoring is a gross violation of existing laws and must be stopped immediately.

As the current victims of gross human rights violations perpetrated by the GVN, we wish to protest the brutal way the GVN treats the citizens of Vietnam. We also wish to appeal to the international human rights organizations and the international community to condemn the cruel and barbaric activities the GVN is engaging in. What the GVN is doing goes against all civilized norms.

Huynh Trong Hieu