Vietnamese Human Rights Attorneys Attacked Three Days Before Appeal Hearing of 15 Peaceful Protesters in Dong Nai

Defend the Defenders, November 6, 2018


Three human rights lawyers named Dang Dinh Manh, Nguyen Van Mieng and Trinh Vinh Phuc have been attacked by unknown individuals few days ahead of the appeal hearing of 15 peaceful demonstraters, Defend the Defenders has learned.

Lawyer Manh said that the three attorneys went to Bien Hoa with his car in the morning of November 6 to meet with their clients to prepare for their defense in the appeal hearing set on November 9. When they were inside the car and ready to move, they heard a bid explosion and saw the window glass of the car’s right side broke.

It was likely some individuals shot Manh’s car with a hand-made device. However, it was not a gun, according to how the glass broke, said the lawyers who remained safe after the attack.

Manh, Mieng and Phuc are among few lawyers who often involve in political cases in recent years to protect local dissidents.

The assault may be made due to their participation in the appeal hearing of 15 peaceful protesters from Bien Hoa city which will be carried out by the People’s Court of Dong Nai province. The convicted protesters challenged the decision of the People’s Court of Bien Hoa city made on July 30 in a trial in which 15 out of 20 peaceful demonstrators were sentenced to between eight and 18 months in prison just because of joining peaceful demonstration on June 10 to protest two bills on Special Economic Zones and Cyber Security.

After the trial, lawyer Manh said authorities in Dong Nai threatened the convicted protesters, saying they should not appeal the court’s decision otherwise they may receive harder sentences.

This is the second attack against Vietnamese lawyers in recent years. In 2016, Hanoi-based human rights lawyers Tran Thu Nam and Le Van Luan were also attacked by plainclothes agents when they went to visit the family of Do Dang Du, who was beaten to death while being held in a detention center under the authority of the Hanoi Police Department. Later, communal policemen came to the lawyers’ private residence to apologize for the attack and ask for forgiveness.

In mid June, tens of thousands of Vietnamese from different social groups rallied on streets in Ho Chi Minh City, Dong Nai, Nha Trang, Hanoi, Binh Duong, Binh Thuan and other localities in a nationwide demonstration to protest Vietnamese communist regime’s plan to approve the two bills on Special Economic Zones and Cyber Security. The first is likely to favor Chinese investors to hire land for 99 years amid increasing concerns about Beijing’s aggressiveness in the South China Sea while the second aims to silence online critics.

In response to the demonstration biggest for decades, Vietnam’s communist regime used violent measures to deal with peaceful protesters. Authorities in manylocations used water cannons, tear gas and riot police to disperse the demonstration.

Police beat and arrested hundreds of protesters. So far, nearly 100 protesters have been convicted, 98 of them were sentenced to between eight and 54 months in prisons while eight of them were given probation of between five months and two years for allegation of causign public disorders.

Vietnam’s government is expected to prosecute many other mid-June protesters in coming weeks. A human rights defenders told Defend the Defenders that authorities in the central province of Binh Thuan have placed many protesters under house arrest and may try soon on allegation of disturbing public security.