Vietnam Human Rights Defenders’ Weekly Report for April 29-May 5, 2019: Blogger Anh Ba Sam Completes His 5-Year Imprisonment
Defend the Defenders | May 5, 2019
Independent journalist Nguyen Huu Vinh, the owner of well-known blog Anh Ba Sam, completed his 5-year imprisonment and returned to his house in Hanoi on May 5. Five years ago, he was arrested and charged with “abusing democratic freedom” under Article 258 of the 1999 Penal Code for criticizing the communist regime on his blog.
On May 4-5, authorities in Hanoi deployed large numbers of police and militia to place dozens of local activists under house arrest in a bid to prevent them from going to Prison camp No. 5 to welcome the 63-year-old blogger. After he returning home, around 40 police officers and militia were also sent to block all roads leading to his house in Dang Van Ngu street.
On the occasion of the country’s unification (April 30) and the International Labor Day (May 1), hundreds of activists in Ho Chi Minh City were placed under house arrest as the local security forces were requested to take all measures to prevent street demonstrations. On April 26, at a meeting with retired police and army generals, Politburo member Nguyen Thiẹn Nhan, who is also the communist chief in the city pledged not to allow public demonstrations during the holiday.
Police in other localities were also on high alert. In Dong Nai, three Facebookers were arrested and reasons for their detentions were unknown. Meanwhile, police in Lam Dong have arrested female resident Nguyen Thi Tuyet on allegation of being associated with the exile government of Vietnamese American Dao Minh Quan.
Ms Huynh Thi To Nga, who was abducted by plainclothes agents in Nguyen Tri Phuong Hospital in Ho Chi Minh in late January, was found to be in Dong Nai province’s police custody. The charges against her and her older brother Huynh Minh Tam, who was arrested on January 26 were unknown for the public.
Rights activist Nguyen Van Tuc, who is serving 13 years jail sentence in Prison camp No. 6 in Nghe An province, has been denied of medical treatment for his severe diseases, according to his wife Bui Thi Re.
In its annual report released on April 29, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) calls for re-placing Vietnam in the list of Country of Particular Concern (CPC) as “the government of Vietnam has continued to persecute religious individuals and organizations.”
Rights activist Bach Hong Quyen and his youngest child left Thailand where he stayed in the last two years as a refugee and arrived in Canada this week to join his wife and two daughters where they will start a new life as political refugees.
===== April 29 =====
HCM City Communist Chief Pledges not to Allow Public Demonstrations During 5-day Holiday
Defend the Defenders: Nguyen Thien Nhan, Politburo member and secretary of the communist party’s Committee in Ho Chi Minh City has pledged not to local residents to conduct public protests during the 5-day holiday on the occasions of the country’s reunification (April 30) and the International Labor Day (May 1).
During a meeting with retired police and army generals on April 26, Nhan said he has requested the city’s security forces to take all measures for this purpose, adding public protests will affect foreign investment.
There are about 600 individuals in the city potential of triggering or calling for public demonstrations that the local police have to pay attention, he said.
Police will also take care to prevent activists from other localities to come to the city for street demonstrations, he noted.
Activists in HCM City reported that riot police, undercover police and militia have been deployed to important streets and points in the city. Police have also set barricades in many places, especially in the city’s centers.
Dozens of activists have complained that they are under house arrest as plainclothes agents and militia were sent to stationate near their private residences from April 29.
US Religious Freedoms Panel Calls For Vietnam Listing as ‘Country of Particular Concern’
RFA: A U.S. bipartisan commission called on Monday for Vietnam to be placed on a State Department blacklist of the world’s worst abusers of religious freedoms, noting that the country’s removal from the list 13 years ago has not eased violations under one-party communist rule.
Although the State Department removed Vietnam from its list of Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) in 2006 amid improving diplomatic relations, “the government of Vietnam has continued to persecute religious individuals and organizations,” the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said in an annual report.
Religious freedom conditions last year “trended negative,” USCIRF said, adding that 244 prisoners of conscience held in Vietnam’s jails at year-end included “some who advocated for freedom of religion or belief and others who simply professed or practiced their faith.”
“Local authorities continued to seize property from Catholic churches, Buddhist temples, and other religious groups for economic development projects without providing just compensation,” USCIRF said, while police harassed religious leaders of different faiths for attending religious conferences overseas or for meeting with foreign diplomats.
“Based on these systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom, USCIRF again finds that Vietnam merits designation in 2019 as a ‘country of particular concern,’ or CPC, under the Religious Freedom ACT (IRFA), as it has recommended every year since 2002,” the rights monitoring group said.
For original report:
Lam Dong Arrests Woman Associated with Exile Government of Dao Minh Quan
Defend the Defenders: On May 25, authorities in Vietnam’s Central Highlands province of Lam Dong arrested a local female resident named Nguyen Thi Tuyet who was accused of being associated with the US-based provisional government of Vietnamese American Dao Minh Quan.
Ms. Tuyet, 58, was charged with subversion and alleged to send and receive many documents from Quan.
Citing the province’s police, state media reported that Tuyet has campaigned for the election of Quan for the post of president of Vietnam Republic III. Police said they had found four hand-written books and two files of documents as well as many electronic documents in her personal computer. All of these documents are related to Quan’s exile government.
Vietnam’s communist government considers his organization as a terrorist group. Hanoi has imprisoned at least 28 individials alleged of being associated with the group.
In 2018, a group of 18 individuals was accused of conducting petrol bomb plot near Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City and burning a police parking also in HCM City to get public attention in late April on the occasion of the country’s reunification. They were sentenced to lengthy imprisonment between seven and 16 years. However, according to relatives of some imprisoned individuals, the case is trumped-up and they did not know each other.
===== April 30 =====
Prisoner of Conscience Nguyen Van Tuc Denied of Medical Treatment for Severe Diseases
Defend the Defenders: Rights activist Nguyen Van Tuc, who is serving 13 years jail sentence in Prison camp No. 6 in Nghe An province, has been denied of medical treatment for his severe diseases, his wife Bui Thi Re has informed Defend the Defenders.
Re, who conducted prison visit on April 30, found him in deteriorating health. He has been suffering from several chronic conditions, such as heart disease, severe hemorrhoid, corneitis. He can’t see properly, she noted.
He asked for an eye check-up, but the prison officials didn’t reply to his request. His heart problem has been aggravated due to the hot summer conditions in Nghe An.
For more information about Mr. Nguyen Van Tuc
===== May 1 =====
Kidnapped Democracy Activist Huynh Thi To Nga Held by Dong Nai Police: Family
Defend the Defenders: Democracy activist and human rights advocate Huynh Thi To Nga, who was said to be being kidnapped by plainclothes agents in late January, is held by police from Vietnam’s southern province of Dong Nai, Defend the Defenders has learned from her family.
Accordingly, her family has requested the Dong Nai province’s Police Department for meeting with her, however, it has rejected, saying she will not be allowed to meet with her relatives and lawyers during the investigation.
Ms. Nga, 36, is a medical worker in Nguyen Tri Phuong Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City. She was reportedly detained by undercover police on January 28 while she was working. After her disappearance, police in Dong Nai conducted house search of her former husband.
No news about her has been available since that time.
Her detention was made two days after her older brother Huynh Minh Tam was arrested by the Dong Nai police. Police have yet to announce the charge(s) against him as well.
The arrests of Nga and 39-year-old Tam are likely related to their online activities. Ms. Nga has two Facebook accounts Diệu Hằng and Selena Zen and Tam is with Huynh Tri Tam, on which they have posted a number of articles advocating human rights and multi-party democracy, and criticizing the communist regime’s socio-economic policies as well as systemic corruption and human rights abuse.
They may face an allegation of “conducting anti-state propaganda” or even subversion in the national security provisions of the Penal Code. Those convicted of the first allegation may face imprisonment of up to 12 years while the maximum punishment for the second charge is life imprisonment or even capital punishment.
Nga and Tam each have two children. Two kids of Nga were living with her but their father is taking care of them after she was abducted.
Vietnam’s security forces have abducted a number of activists before publicizing the charges against them. In many cases, such as Nga’s one, police keep the kidnapped activists in detention without informing their families for months.
Nga and Tam have been among 15 activists detained since the beginning of this year when the Cyber Security law became effective. Most of them were arrested for their online activities.
According to NOW! Campaign, Vietnam is holding at least 240 prisoners of conscience. Hanoi always denies of imprisoning political activists but only law violators.
===== May 2 =====
Activist Bach Hong Quyen Arrives in Canada, Starting Exile Life after Two Years Staying in Thailand
At 10:40 pm on May 2, 2019, Mr. Bach Hong Quyen, a Vietnamese refugee activist in Thailand, and his youngest son, Joseph Bach (6 months old), boarded a flight from Bangkok to Canada for resettlement under Canada’s private sponsorship program.
About two weeks earlier, on April 16, Ms. Bui Huong Giang, Mr. Quyen’s wife, and their two daughters also resettled to Canada under the same sponsorship program.
As a tireless activist, Mr. Bach Hong Quyen was involved with many activities to support environmental victims in the Formosa disaster in Central Vietnam. In May 2017, Mr. Quyen was forced to leave Vietnam for Thailand as a refugee shortly after the Vietnamese authorities issued a warrant for his arrest with a charge of “disrupting public order” for his activities in the disaster area.
VOICE and VOICE Canada would like to express their gratitude to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Thai Government, Human Rights Watch (HRW), Senator Ngo Thanh Hai (Canada), the Canadian Embassy in Thailand, along with many other individuals and organizations, who jointly campaigned for Mr. Bach Hong Quyen’s family.
===== May 3 =====
Dong Nai Arrests Three Facebookers Alleged of Calling for Public Demonstrations
Defend the Defenders: Authorities in the southern province of Dong Nai have reportedly detained three local FacebookersNgài Nam Tước, Las Plagas and Vy Bùi and currently hold them in B5 temporary detention under the authority of the province’s Police Department
It is unclear the reasons for their arrests but according to some activists, their detentions may be related to their online activities which aim to call for respection and protection of civil and human rights.
The first Facebooker has his real name of Nguyen Dinh Khue (in Vietnamese: Nguyễn Đình Khuê) while the names of the two remaining ones are unclear. They went missing in late April and likely kidnapped by undercover police.
According to their Facebook accounts, they have posted and shared many statuses about Vietnam’s problems such as human rights abuse, systemic corruption, environmental pollution, and the government’s weak response to China’s violations of the country’s sovereignty in the East Sea (South China Sea).
So far this year, Vietnam has arrested around 20 activists, including 15 Facebookers. According to NOW! Campaign, Vietnam is holding at least 240 prisoners of conscience who are imprisoned just because of exercising their basic human and civil rights.
===== April 5 =====
Blogger Anh Ba Sam Completes His 5-year Imprisonment, Activists Barred from Meeting Him
Defend the Defenders: Independent journalist Nguyen Huu Vinh, the owner of Anh Ba Sam blog, completed his 5-year imprisonment and returned to his home in Hanoi on May 5.
After being freed in Prison camp No. 5 in the central province of Thanh Hoa, Mr. Vinh, 63, was taken to a hospital for a medical check-up. His health is good, his wife Le Thi Minh Ha said.
One day before his release, prison staff went into his cell and confiscated more than 1000 pages of his personal notes.
Meanwhile, numerous police officers, plainclothes agents and militia were deployed to block all the roads leading to his private house in Dong Da district in a bid to prevent local activists from cheering him.
On May 4-5, dozens of activists in Hanoi were placed under de facto house arrest as the city’s authorities sent undercover police and militia to stationate near their private residences to prevent them from going out. Others were reportedly closely followed by plainclothes agents.
Vietnam’s authorities are likely not willing local activists to go to Prison camp No. 5 to welcome Mr. Vinh or to visit him after he returning to Hanoi.
Mr. Vinh was arrested on May 5, 2014 and charged with “abusing democratic freedom” under Article 258 of the 1999 Penal Code.
For more information about Mr. Vinh:
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