Vietnam Human Rights Defenders’ Weekly Report for October 22-28, 2018: Imprisoned Democracy Campaigner Nguyen Trung Ton Denied of Medical Treatment
Defend the Defenders | October 28, 2018
Authorities in Gia Trung prison camp have refused to provide medical treatment for jailed Protestant pastor Nguyen Trung Ton, the former president of the unregistered group Brotherhood for Democracy who is serving his 12-year imprisonment in the camp.
Mr. Ton, 47, is with failing health and unable to walk owing to an untreated injury suffered in a beating in early 2017. He is suffering from serious kidney stones and prostate which have become severe due to hardesh conditions in prison.
He has submitted a request for medical treatment to the camp’s authorities who remain silent.
Meanwhile, the police of Ho Chi Minh City have summoned Tran Le Thanh Ha, the 13-year-old daughter of detained activist Tran Thanh Phuong, to police station for interrogation about his activities. Ha, who is a 8th class student, was requested to go with her mother Le Thi Khanh to the office of the city police’s Security Investigation Agency on October 15, 45 days after Mr. Phuong was kidnapped by local security forces. Mr. Phuong is a member of the unregistered group of activists named Hiến Pháp (Constitution) which is striving to educatepeople abouthuman rights as well as political and civil rights by disseminating Vietnam’s 2013 Constitution among citizens. Its members were key figures in the mass demonstration on June 10 in the city in which demonstrators protested the Vietnamese parliament’s plan to approve two bills on Special Economic Zones and Cyber Security.
The People’s Court of the southern province of Dong Nai will hold an appeal hearing of 15 peaceful protesters on November 9. On July 30, the People’s Court of Bien Hoa town convicted them on allegation of “disrupting public orders” under Article 318 of the 2015 Penal Code due to their participation in the peaceful demonstration on June 10, sentencing them to between eight and 18 months in prison. Eight of them are female, some of them have children at school ages.
Vietnam’s authorities continue to persecute people who participated in the mass demonstration in mid-June. On June 26, the police of the Mekong Delta province of Tra Vinh detained Dang Van Thanh, 25, who is said to be linked with the to-be-established Vietnam National Coalition. Thanh was beaten and questioned for two days before being released in the evening of October 27, however, he was asked to go to police station in his native city of Can Tho for further interrogation.
So far, Vietnam’s communist regime has convicted 64 peaceful protesters, sentencing 56 of them to between eight and 54 months in prison and giving eight remaining probation of between five and 24 months.
The ruling Communist Party of Vietnam is going to discipline former Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Chu Hao for “serious violations” of the party’s disciplines. According to the party’s Central Inspection Commission, as the director of the Knowledge Publishing House, Mr. Hao, one of open-minded intellectuals who had decissive roles in bringing Internet in the country, is responsible for publishing a number of book with the progressive content against the party’s ideology and advocates for political change. In response to the party’s decission, many senior party’s members publicly have declared to quite their party’s membership in a bid to support him.
The government-backed Red Flag group, which has conducted numerous harassments against the Catholic community in the central province of Nghe An since 2017, is carrying out acts threatening priest Dang Huu Nam from My Khanh parish in the Khanh Thanh commune, Yen Thanh district. Le Dinh Tho, a communal policeman and the head of the local unit of the group, went to the parish church to threaten to kill the priest who bravely speak out about the country’s issues and protect his followers from the ongoing discrimination of the local authorities. The communal authorities took no actions to response to his report.
On October 28, authorities in Hanoi were sending plainclothes police officers to station near private residences of many local activists in a bid to prevent them from gathering to celebrate the 7th anniversary of the No-U football group established by activists who protest China’s violations of Vietnam’s sovereignty in the South China Sea. A police officer named Duy of Dong Da district who was sent to block dissident La Viet Dung slapped his mother when the activist tried to go to his bussiness meeting.
===== October 22 =====
Imprisoned Democracy Campaigner Nguyen Trung Ton Denied of Medical Treatment for His Severe Diseases and Injuries
Defend the Defenders: Authorities in Gia Trung prison camp in Vietnam’s Central Highlands province of Gia Lai have denied to provide medical treatment for human rights defender and democracy campaigner Nguyen Trung Ton, who is serving his 12-year imprisonment in the facility, his wife Nguyen Thi Lanh has informed Defend the Defenders.
Mrs. Lanh said her husband made his phone call to her on October 22 to report the inhumane treatment of the prison camp against him, adding he is suffering from serious kidney stones, prostate and the injuries in his legs caused by plainclothes agents during their assault against him in February last year, five months before his arrest.
Mr. Ton told his wife that he is with failing health and unable to walk owing to an untreated injury suffered in a beating in early 2017. He submitted his request for medical treatment more than one week earlier, however, the prison camp’s authorities remain silent, he said.
Nguyen, who is serving a 12-year prison term, is now seriously ill and is being denied medical treatment by prison authorities, his wife Nguyen Thi Lanh told RFA’s Vietnamese Service on Tuesday.
“On Oct. 22, my husband called me and told me about his health,” she said.
“He said that he had sent a petition asking for treatment, because in February 2017 his knee was injured after he was beaten up by police. Doctors told him that he needs follow-up visits once a month, but he has not been able to have visits since his arrest,” she said.
“Prison authorities have not allowed me to send him any medication, and now he can’t walk and is very ill,”
Mr. Ton, president of the unregistered group Brotherhood for Democracy (BFD) was arrested on July 30 last year and charged with subversion under Article 79 of the 1999 Penal Code, together with two other key members of the group named Pham Van Troi and Truong Minh Duc and Nguyen Bac Truyen, one of its co-founders but left the organization several years before being arrested.
In mid-2018, Mr. Ton was convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison and three years of probation. After losing his appeal, he was transferred to Dak Lak, about 1,000 km from his native province of Thanh Hoa.
Along with being sentenced to lengthy imprisonments, Vietnamese activists have been treated inhumanely during their imprisonment, including being sent to prisons far from their families and denied of proper medical treatments.
Food quality in prison is very low while prisoners of conscience were subjects to enforced labor and solitary confinement. In addition, a number of them have been beaten and threatened by criminal inmates sent by prisons’ authorities who strive to break their mental strength and force them to admit false confession.
Authorities in Thanh Hoa have also been harassing his family after his conviction. Police have summoned his wife to police stations to interrogate her after she made interviews with foreign media about inhumane treatment against him, and sent thugs to throw dirty substances to her good stand in a local market. Police also robbed her once after she got small financial donation from people.
For more information about Mr. Ton, go to our website’s archive.
===== October 23 =====
Appeal of 15 Mid-June Protesters Convicted in Late July Set to Be on November 9
Defend the Defenders: On November 9, the People’s Court of Vietnam’s southern province of Dong Nai will hold the appeal hearing of 15 protesters who were convicted by a lower court in late July on alleged disturbing public orders, Defend the Defenders has learned from Ho Chi Minh City-based lawyer Dang Dinh Manh, who defends them in both hearings.
The defendants were among 20 peaceful demonstrators arrested on June 10 while participating in the mass demonstrationin Bien Hoa city to protest the Vietnamese parliament’s plan to approve two bills on Special Economic Zones and Cyber Security. They were accused of causing public disorders under Article 318 of the country’s Penal Code 2015.
On July 30, in the first-instance hearing, the People’s Court of Bien Hoa city found them guilty, sentencing 15 of them to between eight and 18 months in prison. Five protestors were given probation of one year and they have not appealed the court’s decision.
The police of Bien Hoa city reportedly confiscated cell phones and motorbikes and other items of the defendants.
After the trial, police had reportedly threatened the convicted protesters, saying they should not appeal the court’s decision, otherwise they would receive harder punishment.
The convicted protesters in Dong Nai are among hundreds of Vietnamese people arrested during and after the mass protest with the participation of tens of thousands of people in Ho Chi Minh City, Dong Nai, Nha Trang, Binh Thuan and other localities to challenge government plans to grant long-term leases for foreign companies operating in special economic zones (SEZs) and the adoption of a controversial Cyber Security law. The protests prompted clashes with police that saw demonstrators beaten and an unknown number detained.
Since July, Vietnam has convicted nearly 70 mid-June protesters, sentencing 59 of them to between eight and 54 months in prison and giving eight others probation of between five months and two years.
Amnesty International has called on Vietnam’s government to release all people who joined the peaceful protest on June 10, including the people convicted in the July 30 trial by the People’s Court of Bien Hoa city, return all property belonging to protesters which was confiscated by the police or court, apologize to the protesters, and compensate protesters who have been illegally detained. The London-based right group also called on Vietnam’s National Assembly, a rubber-stamp parliament, to ensure that legal protections for demonstrators are upheld, according to stipulations in the country’s 2013 Constitution.
The convicted mid-June protesters were considered as prisoners of conscience by Now!Campaign, a coalition of 14 domestic and international NGOs, including Defend the Defenders, BPSOS, Civil Rights Defenders and Front Line Defenders. The coalition also says Vietnam is holding around 250 prisoners of conscience now.
===== October 25 =====
Vietnamese Intellectual Faces Punishment Few Days After Hardline Party Boss Grabs President Post
Defend the Defenders: The ruling Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) is going to discipline Professor Doctor Chu Hao, one of few intellectuals- reformers just few days after General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, the most conservative leader grabbed the country’s president post which was vacant after the sudden death of Tran Dai Quang, another hardline senior official of the regime.
According the decision of the CPV’s Central Inspection Commission released on October 25, Prof. Chu Hao, former deputy minister of science and technology, had seriously violated the party’s disciplines and affected the social ideology.
The party must discipline him for his violations, said the conclussion of the commission at the end of its 30th regular session.
Particularly, as the head of the Knowledge Publishing House, Prof. Hao is responsible for publishing a number of book with contents opposing the party’s policies and the country’s laws, the commission said in its statement.
Many of books published by the house had been banned from circulation, the commission said without naming the banned books.
Professor Chu Hao, who obtained his PhD in France, held many positions in research institutes before became deputy minister of science and technology in 1996. At this period, he supported the project to launch Internet in the Southeast Asian nation.
He retired from the post in 2005 and became the director of the Knowledge Publishing House, and still holds the post.
He is the president of the Vietnam-France Friendship Association.
According to readers, many books published by his agency have progressive points of views.
Meanwhile, on October 22, Vietnam’s National Assembly, the rubber-stamped parliament elected Nguyen Phu Trong, 74, as the country’s new president, making him the most powerful figure in the communist regime.
Since becoming the party’s chief in early 2016, Trong has launched severe crackdown on the local dissent. In 2016-2017, Vietnam detained more than 50 activists. So far this year, the communist regime has arrested 26 activists and convicted 39 government critics with a total 294.5 years in prison and 66 years of probation under controversial articles of the national security provisions in the Penal Code. As many as 13 of them were sentenced to between ten and 20 years in prisons.
In addition, the regime has also sentenced 56 peaceful protesters who participated in the mass demonstration in mid-June to between eight and 54 months in prison.
===== October 26 =====
HCM City Police Summon 13-year-old Daughter of Detained Activist for Interrogation about His Activities
Defend the Defenders: The Security Investigation Agency under Ho Chi Minh City’s Police Department have summoned Tran Le Thanh Ha, the 13-year-old daughter of detained activist Tran Thanh Phuong, to police station for interrogation about his activities, Defend the Defenders has learned.
Ha, who is a 8th class student, was requested to go with her mother Le Thi Khanh to the agency’s office on October 15, 45 days after Mr. Phuong was kidnapped by local security forces.
The girl did not obey by the police’s request, saying she knows nothing about her father’s activities.
Mr. Phuong is a member of the unregistered group of activists named Hiến Pháp (Constitution) which is striving to educatepeople abouthuman rights as well as political and civil rights by disseminating Vietnam’s 2013 Constitution among citizens. Its members were key figures in the mass demonstration on June 10 in HCM City which aimed to protest the Vietnamese parliament’s plan to approve two bills on Special Economic Zones and Cyber Security.
In the first week of September, in order to prevent public demonstrations during the three-day holiday on the occasion of the Vietnamese Independence Day (September 2) amid online calls for public gathering, security forces in HCM City arrested and kidnapped many government critics, including nine members of the Hiến Pháp group.
The police in HCM City kidnapped Mr. Phuong on September 1 and took him into custody without informing his family about his arrest and detention. He is held in the temporary detention facility managed by the city’s police located in Phan Dang Luu street. Six other members of the group are also kept in the same facility.
So far, only four members of the group were charged with controversial articles of the national security provisions in the 2015 Penal Code. Two activists Ngo Van Dung and Ho Van Cuong were accused of “disruption of security” under Article 118, Huynh Truong Ca was alleged with “anti-state propaganda” under Article 117 while Le Minh The was said to had abused democratic freedom under Article 331.
Police released Hung Hung but still hold Doan Thi Hong, Tran Hoang Lan, Do The Hoa and Tran Thanh Phuong without publicizing the charges against them.
Meanwhile, local activists reported that the police of Tra Vinh province arrested Dang Van Thanh, 25, who is said to be linked with the to-be-established Vietnam National Coalition. On October 10, the People’s Court of HCM City sentenced democracy campaigners Luu Van Vinh, Nguyen Quoc Hoan, Nguyen Van Duc Do, Tu Cong Nghia and Phan Trung to between eight and 15 years in prison on allegation of subversion due to their links to the organization.
Vietnam’s communist regime has intensified its relentless crackdown on local dissent which started in early 2016 when the ruling communist party elected its new leadership with many police generals holding senior posts in the party and state aparatuse.
In 2016-2017, Vietnam arrested around 50 activists. So far this year, Hanoi has detained 27 human rights defenders and democracy campaigners and convicted 39 individuals, sentencing them to a total 294.5 years in prison and 66 years of probation.
In addition, hundreds of peaceful demonstrators were beaten, detained and tortured. As many as 56 of them were sentenced to between eight and 54 months in prison due to their participation in the mid-June protest.
===== October 28 =====
Southern Activist Detained, Beaten by Police, Facing Arrest on Allegation of Disseminating Leaflets to Call for Mid-June Protest
Defend the Defenders: Police from Vietnam’s southern province of Tra Vinh have detained and beaten young activist Dang Van Thanh who was alleged of disseminating leaflets in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho in early June with the content opposing the bill on Special Economic Zones.
According to Ho Chi Minh City-based human rights defender Nguyen Thien Nhan, Thanh, 25, was detained on October 26 by police officers from the police unit of Ward 5, Tra Vinh city who came to his rent apartment in the city to seek for him.
When Thanh took his cell phone to film the police officers, one of them robbed his phone and others handcuffed him, Nhan said, citing the news from Thanh’s relative.
One of the police officers beat Thanh before taking him to the ward police station where Thanh was interrogated for two days continously, Nhan said, noting he was beaten again, and was forced to take off all his clothes.
Police released him in the evening of October 27 but placed him under house arrest, Nhan said.
In his Facebook account, Thanh also confirmed that he was beaten and interrogated for days. He said that he has to go to police for further questioning in coming days.
Nhan said police plan to take him to his mother’s house in Can Tho City and transfer him to the city’s Police Department for further interrogation about his activities related to the mass demonstration in mid-June.
It is likely Thanh’s detention is linked to the allegation that in early June he had disseminated leaflets in Can Tho City with the content calling for peaceful protest again the Vietnamese regime’s plan to pass the bill on Special Economic Zones. The bill meets strong public protest as it is likely to favor Chinese investors to hire land for 99 years amid increasing concerns about Beijing’s aggressiveness in the South China Sea.
Other activists said his detention is linked to the to-be-established group Vietnam National Coaliation which intends to promotes multi-party democracy. In August, the People’s Court of HCM City convicted five activists Luu Van Vinh, Nguyen Quoc Hoan, Nguyen Van Duc Do, Tu Cong Nghia and Phan Trung who were said to be linked with the group on allegation of subversion, sentencing them to between eight and 15 years in prison and three years of probation each.
On October 9-11, tens of thousands of Vietnamese from different social groups rallied on streets in Hanoi, HCM City, Danang, Nha Trang, Binh Thuan, Ninh Thuan, Dong Nai and other localities to protest two bills on Special Economic Zones and Cyber Security. The second bill aims to silence online critics.
In response to the public anger, Vietnam’s security forces used violent measures to disperse the public gatherings, beating and detaining hundreds of peaceful demonstrators. So far, 56 protesters have been sentenced to between eight and 54 months in prison on allegation of “disrupting public orders” while tens of others, including eight members of the Hiến Pháp (Constitution) group, are still held in police custody and facing serious accusations such as “disrupting security” and “conducting anti-state propaganda” with punishment of up to 15 years and 20 years in prison, respectively.
In September-October, Vietnam’s authorities convicted five activists named Nguyen Hong Nguyen, Truong Dinh Khang, Doan Khanh Vinh Quang, Bui Manh Dong, and Nguyen Dinh Thanh to between one year and seven years in prison for posting and disseminating leaflets calling for opposing the two bills.
The rights to freedom of peaceful expression both online and offline, and assembly have been violated seriously, especially in the past few years. Since the begining of 2018, Vietnam has arrested 27 activists and sentenced 39 human rights defenders and democracy campaigners with a total 294.5 years in prison and 66 years of probation.
As many as 22 activists are in pre-trial detention with allegations in the national security provisions in the Penal Code. They are facing lengthy imprisonments if are convicted, according to the current Vietnamese law.
Police torture is still rampant in localities after Vietnam’s parliament ratified the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in November 2014. Several criminal suspects died in unknown circumstances in police custody in rerent weeks.
Hanoi Places Local Activists under House Arrest, Dissident La Viet Dung’s Mother Beaten by Plainclothes Policeman
Defend the Defenders: On October 28, authorities in Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi are sending plainclothes police officers to station near private residences of many local activists in a bid to prevent them from going out for unknown reason.
One of the victims, La Viet Dung’s mother was beaten by policemen when Dung questioned the legelity of the blockage against him by the Dong Da district’s police.
When Dung and his mother requested explanation from the plainclothes agents and asked them not to block him from going out, policeman Duy slapped his mother, according to his video.
Land rights activist Trinh Ba Tu recognized that the policeman named Duy was the officer who beat him in Dong Da district’s police station on April 5 this year when the People’s Court of Hanoi held the first-instance hearing against six key members of the unsanctioned group Brotherhood for Democracy.
University lecturer Dao Thu was also barred from going to her university where she had a meeting with her students.
In all cases, plainclothes police officers said they work under direction of their unit heads, however, they fail to show any legal documents to prove that when being questioned by their victims.
The reason for blockages is likely to prevent Hanoi-based activists from gathering to mark the 7th anniversary of No-U football club established by activists who rallied on Hanoi’s streets in 11 consecutive Sundays in mid-2011 to protest China’s invasion of Vietnam’s sovereignty in the South China Sea.
In the past years, authorities in Hanoi strived to disperse activists from No-U’s birthday parties, using plainclothes agents and thugs to attack participants.
Mr. Dung, a well-known dissident and a member of No-U football club. He is one of activists who have been placed de facto house arrest in many occasions, especially when the local authorities think that local dissidents may gather together to hold public protests.
He was attacked twice by plainclothes agents for his activities which aim to protect the country’s sovereignty and promote human rights and democracy.
He is also among more than one hundred of activists blocked from international trips.
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