Many Vietnam Activists under House Arrest on International Human Rights Day, Some Beaten by Plainclothes Agents

By Defend the Defenders, December 11, 2016

Authorities across Vietnam deployed huge number of plainclothes agents to station near private residences of local activists on December 10, putting them de facto under house arrest in a bid not to allow them to go out to mark the 68th International Human Rights Day.

Hundreds of activists from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Haiphong, Nghe An, Thanh Hoa and other cities and provinces said their houses were blocked by a group of between five to ten plainclothes police officers on the day.

A large number of police officers and militia was also sent to cities’ centers to prevent gathering of activists who had to go out in the evening of Friday.

Blogger Trinh Ba Phuong from Hanoi, a son of imprisoned land right activist Can Thi Theu said he was blocked and beaten by police officers when he tried to catch a taxi to visit other activists. Later, he was detained to a police station in Ha Dong district where he was threatened and under degraded treatment by police officers.

Former political prisoner Nguyen Trung Linh said he was summoned to a local police station in Hanoi and questioned for hours about his call on his Facebook page for peaceful gathering to mark the event.

On December 11, Facebooker Han Tin visited former political prisoner Nguyen Xuan Nghia in Haiphong City. He was knocked down on the street few steps from the host’s house. Mr. Nghia believed that the attackers were police officers in plainclothes as they did many times before against his guests, mostly are activists.

Vietnam is a state party of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, however, the communist government encourages local citizens not to engage in politics. It has used controversial articles such as 79, 88, 245 and 258 of the country’s Penal Code to silence local dissidents, social activists and human rights defenders, with around 130 activists being imprisoned.

In addition, authorities have applied other tactics such as persecution, harassment, kidnapping, assault and economic blockage to deal with local activists.