Vietnam Human Rights Defenders’ Weekly Report for August 5-11, 2019: Government Continues Crackdown, Harassing Anti-China Activists



Defend the Defenders | August 11, 2019


Vietnam’s communist regime continues its crackdown on local dissent and social activists, arresting one resident for his participation in an anti-China protest and harassing others.

On August 11, police in Ho Chi Minh City arrested Mr. Ho Ngoc Hue, one day after he joined others to protest China’s violations of Vietnam’s sovereignty in the East Sea (South China Sea) in front of the Chinese General Consulate in the city. Police did not inform his family the charge against him nor the location he is held.

Five days earlier, the city’s police also summoned Ms. Le Thi Thanh Thuy to a police station to interrogate her about her participation in the anti-China protest held in Tan Tao Industrial Zone in Binh Tan district on August 5. She was fined with VND750,000 for “causing public disorders.”

On August 6-7, Facebookers Văn Quyền from Krong Nang district, Dak Lak province and Phạm Hiền from Rach Gia city, Kien Giang province were summoned to police station for interrogation for their online posts which strongly protest China’s expansionism in the East Sea. Police also confiscated a smart phone and a laptop of Mr. Phạm Hiền.

Police in Hanoi detained Facebooker Vũ Hệ in the evening of August 8 and held him for several hours although he has a nine-year-old son who is in special medical treatment. In the afternoon of the same day, he went to a crowded street in Lang Thuong ward to hold a banner requesting China not to violate Vietnam’s sovereignty in the East Sea.

Police also dispersed a peaceful demonstration of about ten activists in the front of the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi on August 6.

Jailed democracy campaigner Truong Minh Duc may face punishment of the authorities of Prison camp No. 6 which is located in Thanh Chuong district, Nghe An province. On August 2, during his talks with his wife, police stopped their conversations after she mentioned being attacked by plainclothes agents in the main gate of the prison in late July. Duc responded by threwing the phone on the floor and police took him away and threatened to charge him with “destroying state’s assets.” Duc’s health is recovering after the 40-day hunger strike on June 11-July 21 to protest inhumane treatment against prisoners of conscience.

PhD Tran Thanh Tuan, a lecturer of Hanoi National University, failed to get promotion to associate professor due to his participation in the peaceful mass demonstration agaist two bills on Special Economic Zones and Cyber Security in Hanoi on June 10, 2018.

Two Facebookers in Bac Ninh province were fined totally VND20 million for their online posts which were considered untrue or defamation of police forces.

===== August 5 =====

Jailed Democracy Activist May Face Disciplined in Prison Camp No. 6

Defend the Defenders: Mr. Truong Minh Duc, former deputy president of the unregistered Brotherhood for Democracy who is serving his 11-year imprisonment in Prison camp No. 6 in the central province of Nghe An, may face disciplined by the prison’s authorities.

Being angered after his conversation with his wife on August 2 was stopped after 10 minutes, Mr. Duc threw the phone on the floor. He was taken away by the prison guards who threaten to impose discipline action on him for destroying state assets.

The visit was supposed to last for one hourbut police officers intervened after Mrs. Nguyen Thi Kim Thanh started to tell him about the assault she was suffered on July 12 when she and other relatives of prisoners of conscience came to the prison to support Duc and three others who were in their 32-day of hunger strike.

Mrs. Thanh who resides in Ho Chi Minh City, has to travel nearly 2,000 km to visit her husband in the central region. She said there was a great pressure on her couple. During the short conversation, he told her that his blood pressure tends to increase suddenlyso he is unable to sleepand hisfood intake is irregular. He feelsexhausted, due to pressure headache at times is unbearable. His head and neck often become stiff.


University Lecturer Revenged for Participation in Peaceful Mass Demonstration Last Year

Defend the Defenders: PhD Tran Thanh Tuan, a lecturer of Hanoi National University, failed to get promotion to associate professor due to his participation in the peaceful mass demonstration agaist two bills on Special Economic Zones and Cyber Security in Hanoi on June 10, 2018.

It was a revenge to his social engagement since he meets all requirements for an associate professor. His failure was the only one among 19 candidates for the promotion.

Last year, the university’s Directorate was willing to discipline him after the mass protest, however, the communist party unit in which he was a member did not agree. Few weeks later, he declared to leave the party.

===== August 6 =====

Hanoi Police Disperse PeacefulDemonstration Protesting Chinese Oil Block Survey in East Sea

Defendthe Defenders: OnAugust 6, security forces in the capital city of Hanoi cracked down a rare peaceful demonstration carried out by a group of ten activists who opposed to China’s survey of an offshore oil block located within Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the EastSea (South China Sea).

The protest broke in the front of the Chinese Embassy on Tuesdayandits participants came from an unregistered group No-U (says No to China’s illegal U-shaped claim in the sea).

The protests held banners calling on China to withdraw from Vietnam’s waters and chanted Beijing to get out of Vanguard Bank. They also called on Vietnam’s government to take stronger actions, including taking China to the international arbitration court under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The demonstration lasted about 20 minutes before being dispersed by police and militia. Police asked them to leave the area and the protesters peacefully complied with the police order and no one was arrested.

The demonstration was in response to the Chinese survey in July of waters near VanguardBank which is located westernmost of the contested Truong Sa (Spratlys).

From early July, China sent a survey ship named Haiyang Dizhi 8operated by the China Geological Survey, with Chinese Coast Guard ships and escorted by Chinese Coast Guard ships.At one point, China’s survey intruded into Vietnam’soffshore oil block in Vanguard Bank, and vessels from the two countries have since been involved in a weeks-long standoff near the area.

Vietnam and China are disputing over the Hoang Sa (Paracels), and the two communist nations together with Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan have overlapping claims on the Truong Sa and surrounding waters in the East Sea.

Vietnam has solid evidence of possessing both the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa. The first is occupied by China and Taiwan while the second is controlled by the five nations. China illegally claims over 90% of the East Sea, including the two archipelagos.

China invaded the Hoang Sa in 1974 controlled by the Vietnam Republic. It also took over Gac Ma (Johnson South Reef) in Truong Sa in 1988 after killing 64 Vietnamese soldiers and wounding 11 others who stationed there.

In recent years, China has built numerous military facilities in the Hoang Sa and the Truong Sa, and installed military equipment, including missiles there.

The East Sea is important for international sealine and rich of oil and gas as well as fisheries.

Related article: Vietnam Police Disperse Protest of Chinese Oil Block Survey in South China Sea

===== 08/8 =====

Facebooker Vu He Summoned by Hanoi Police After Holding Anti-China Protest

 Defend the Defenders: In the evening of August 8, police in the capital city of Hanoi summoned Facebooker Vũ Hệto a police station for questioning after his demonstration earlier on the same day to protest China’s violations of Vietnam’s sovereignty in the East Sea (South China Sea).

He, whose son is under special medical treatment in Vietnam National Hospital of Pediatrics, was interrogated for hours in Lang Thuong ward police station where he was told that he has no right to public demonstration.

In late afternoon of Wednesday, Vu He held the demonstration in Nguyen Chi Thanh boulevard. He was with a banner saying “China get out of Vietnam” in English and “Protesting China’s invasion of Vietnam’s Vanguard Bank in Vietnamese. His demonstration was live streamed on his Facebook account.

After about a half hour, police came and requested him to leave the area.

A number of Vietnamese have been intimidated after participating in anti-China protests or criticizing Beijing’s aggressiveness in the East Sea. The intimidation includes summoning to police stations for interrogation and victims include Ms. Le Thi Thanh Thuy from Ho Chi Minh City, Facebooker Văn Quyền in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak and Facebooker Phạm Hiền in the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang. Police in Rach Gia city confiscated Hien’s smart phone and laptop.


Two Facebookers Fined for Online Postings

Defend the Defenders: Authorities in the northern province of Bac Ninh have imposed administrative fines of VND20 million ($850) on two local Facebookers for posting statuses defaming the local police forces and untrue information about robbing in the province.

According to the province Police Department, Ms. Pham Thi Huong was riding a motorbike without a helmet. When she was stopped by traffic police, she took pictures and then posted on her Facebook account named “Hương tit” along with a content considered by the authorities as defaming the police officers.

Due to her posting, Huong was fined VND7.5 million under Article 66 of the government Decree 174 for defaming others.

Meanwhile, Ms. Trang posted the news on a street robbery on her Facebook accounts named “Vẻ Đẹp Kinh Bắc-Bắc Ninh” and “Trang Bella,” saying the incident happened in Bac Ninh city street. However, the information on the case was from a robbery in Ho Chi Minh City in February this year. Police imposed an administrative fine of VND12.5 million for posting untrue information which was considered to be a reason triggering unrest in Bac Ninh province.

Authorities in Vietnam’s localities have been tightening online activities of local citizens after the country’s Cyber Security Law became effective in early 2019.

===== 11/8 =====

Dong Nai Resident Arrested after Participating in Anti-China Protest

Defend the Defenders: On August 11, authorities in Ho Chi Minh City arrested Ho Ngoc Hue, a resident from the neighbor province of Dong Nai, one day after he participated in a peaceful demonstration in the front of China’s General Consulate in the city.

According to his family, he was detained by the police from District 1 in Tan Son Nhat International Airport’s areas. Police told his wife that he was arrested for participation in a peaceful demonstration on August 10, together with retied intellectuals to protest China’s violations of Vietnam’s sovereignty in Vanguard Bank. However, they did not inform the charge(s) he is facing nor where he is held.

Mr. Hue is a Catholic follower in Minh Hoa parish, Lo 25 commune, Thong Nhat district. On August 10, he joined the anti-China protest held by a group of intellectuals residing in HCM City. He may be charged with “disrupting public order” under Article 318 of the 2015 Penal Code with the maximum punishment of seven years in prison. Vietnam’s authorities often use this charge to imprison peaceful protesters. Hundreds of people participating in the peaceful protests on June 10-11, 2018 against two bills on Special Economic Zones and Cyber Security were charged with this accusation and imprisoned.