Vietnam seriously violates Human Rights- before EVFTA enforcement: Urgent international investigation needed

Dear Representatives of the European Union Parliament and EU congressmen,
Representatives of the EU Delegation and Embassies in Vietnam,
Representatives of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Civil Rights Defenders,

We are journalists, lawyers and human rights defenders/activists reporting here very serious cases of human rights violation and lawlessnessin Vietnam, and we call for international help and urgent investigation as well as call for the EU Parliament to request Vietnamese government to enforce commitments and obligations of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) to stop its violation of human rights before allowing the EVFTA with Vietnam to come into force in August 2020.

Following the serious violation of human rights by the Vietnamese government’s security forces attacking civilians in Dong Tam commune at night to horribly kill an old man (Mr. Kinh) and arrest 29 people over land dispute earlier this year, Hanoi government recently also arrested 4 other people who only updated information about Dong Tam incident on social media. So far, lawyers still have not been allowed to access the case files although the trial in court is expected in August for the 29 arrested people. Until now lawyers are still not allowed to meet the arrested people in order to prepare for the trial, and the authorities want to appoint their own “lawyers”. This is a very serious violation of the law and civil rights. The Hanoi government seriously violates human rights and law after brutal killing, arresting people and not allowing any lawyers to access the case documents:

It is inhuman crime operated by the Hanoi government in January to assault and brutally kill a citizen in Dong Tam and arrested 29 people without any lawful warrant, which seriously violates the law and human rights and that must be condemned and be punished by international communities /the EU/ the UN and Human rights organizations for the crime against humanity. The Vietnamese only Communist ruling party with the dictatorship of the so-called “police state” abusing power to do whatever they want without following rules of law, so Vietnamese people especially those who raise their voice for justice are often suppressed and threatened.

This video clip is the evidence of the horrible crime committed by the Hanoi government, shocking the public. Please see how cruel it was after the authorities sent armed police to shoot Mr. Kinh brutally to his heart and head in his house at night and brought his wife, sons, and grandsons to the police station to beat and the security forces took Mr. Kinh away to open his body without any family’s consent ( the stitches shown along his belly and chest) then returned his body to the family after 2 days. Mr. Kinh’s family and relatives screamed in shock and pain when seeing his body had been shot brutally horribly by the armed police, his leg almost fallen – which shows cruel crime done by Hanoi government (minute 6:20 in the video clip in the link below):

(The security forces arrested people and deleted all these video clips and images about Dong Tam on social media to cover up the Hanoi government’s horrible crime). 

The Hanoi government even escalated the violation of human rights by arresting more people (on June 24th) who only peacefully raised voice and informed the public on social media about the Dong Tam incident, 2 brothers Trinh Ba Phuong, Trinh Ba Tu and their mother – Can Thi Theu- the land rights activist were also arrested, although they only expressed the rights of freedom of speech peacefully for human rights in Dong Tam and their land rights. This is the video clip of Trinh Ba Phuong livestream when the police were breaking the doors to get into his house to arrest him in the very early morning at just about 5 am. His wife had just given birth to the second child just 4 days old when Phuong was arrested. It is the police who violate the law when breaking & destroying the doors to raid into people’s private house during people’s sleeping time:

Amnesty International has written about the Dong Tam clash: “dozens are still being detained incommunicado and are at grave risk of torture and other ill-treatment. In her testimony, Thanh states that four of her family members are in detention. Amnesty International has documented appalling detention conditions in Viet Nam, with evidence of prisoners being tortured and otherwise ill-treated, routinely held incommunicado and in solitary confinement, kept in squalid conditions, and denied medical care, clean water, and fresh air”:

The Vietnamese government has intensified the crackdown and repression of social media, especially blocked all updated news about Dong Tam incident on Facebook public groups in Vietnam.

Social media, particularly Facebook, is increasingly becoming weaponized by Viet Nam to go after those who peacefully speak their mind. This is an unacceptable attack on freedom of expression and a clear attempt to stamp out dissent,” said Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Regional Director.

“The authorities want to muzzle discussion of what happened in Dong Tam and avoid it becoming yet another touchpoint for popular discontent. Silicon Valley cannot become complicit in this blatant attempt to keep Vietnamese citizens in the dark about human rights violations” (said Nicholas Bequelin in the link above).

Here is a very important point to oppose and deny the Hanoi police’s allegations: at the scene – the dry well/ pit between Mr. Kinh’s house and his son’s house has NO smoky black of fuel fire on the wall at all, so the Hanoi police’s allegations that Dong Tam villagers “refueled to burn the 3 security officers inside the pit” can NOT be true as there is no evidence of any fire inside the pit (plus it was at night 3 am when the armed police raided into Mr. Kinh’s house, people were sleeping and unable to do anything under the brutal shooting and assault by thousands of armed police around the house) : . This is the important evidence to oppose all the authorities’ allegations to arrest and imprison Dong Tam’s villagers, and this needs urgent independent investigation.

The public do not believe in the police’s false and blatant allegations, instead, people suspect that the armed police shot Mr. Kinh also shot outside the house to each other by mistake so killed the 3 security officers then the police made up the story that those offers were burnt inside the pit by Mr. Kinh’s son and other villagers, in order to arrest Mr. Kinh’s sons, grandsons and dozens of other villagers after shooting dead Mr. Kình cruelly in his bed room but blatantly forcing his family to sign a paper that he died in the Dong Senh field (the location of land dispute). Mr. Kinh’s family members refused signing and condemned the blatant lies of the Hanoi authorities. It is so unlawful, deceitful, unjust and unacceptable.

We therefore call for international urgent independent investigation of this case. Mr. Phil Robertson, Deputy Asia Director of Human Rights Watch has called for international investigation for Dong Tam incident in January, however, no independent investigation has been conducted, as everything is being done by the Hanoi ruling authoritarian regime with no transparency and no democracy.

Blatantly after brutally killing and assaulting those citizens, the Hanoi authority and its police even deceitfully slandered that Mr. Kinh with his family and some villagers had performed the alleged crimes, in order to accuse those villagers and cover up the Hanoi government’s brutal murderous crime.

It is so worrying that the arrested people have been brutally beaten and tortured, as security forces in Vietnam in many cases apply corporal punishment and torture to force people to admit the alleged crimes. And it is absolutely a serious violation of human rights that these victims are NOT allowed to meet lawyers. Please raise your voice to require the Vietnamese government to stop torturing these people and release them. Here their bruised faces show that they have been brutally beaten(shown on that state-controlled television that they “admit” crime, but with these bruised faces it’s easy to see that they had been tortured to be forced to admit):

The Vietnamese government has increasingly arrested human rights activists, journalists, and bloggers. Independent Journalists Association’s (IJA) vice president Nguyen Tuong Thuy and prominent journalist Pham Chi Thanh were both arrested in May 2020, and the IJA president – journalist Pham Chi Dung was arrested in November 2019. Human rights activist Vu Tien Chi; Facebook user Nguyen Thi Cam Thuy and Le Huu Minh Tuan – a young journalist of the IJA were also arrested recently.
According to Vietnamese state-controlled media, all the individuals named above are being held under Article 117 of the 2015 Penal Code for “making, storing, and spreading information, materials, and items for the purpose of opposing the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,” which carries a prison sentence of up to 20 years. These unlawful arrests, illicit persecution, and unjustified charges are unacceptable in any democratic society respecting rules of law!

These arrests represent a further grave escalation in the Vietnamese government’s long-standing repression for dissent and harassment of human rights defenders, activists, and journalists. Independent media and civil society groups – including the Liberal Publishing House and the Independent Journalists Association have been under continuous crackdown since the end of 2019, further repression offreedom of expression in Vietnam (press release, in English):

Following is the human rights network and Defend of defenders organization’s statement (in English) about the arrest and human rights violation in Vietnam. In this web page there written also other unlawful imprisoned cases such as facebooker Nguyen Quoc Duc Vuong who has recently been sentenced to prison for 8 years just because of his post on Facebook speaking his mind:  

Mr. Trinh Ba Phuong met with the USA’s embassy representative in Hanoi (Ms. Michele Roulbet) on the 6th February 2020 to expressed deep concerns about the case of Dong Tam and gave the letter from Mr. Kinh’s wife calling for help:  

Trinh Ba Phuong was the person who regularly updated information about Dong Tam incident for the community to follow, so now the authorities arrested him to shut him up and deleted all his video clips of Dong Tam incident on social media, and forcefully close his Facebook account to muzzle him and others (that’s why some links from his Facebook account presented in our previous email have recently been removed). The security forces also arrested (actually kidnapped) another woman named Nguyen Thi Tam on the same early morning when she was in the local market, without any lawful arrest warrant. It is so unlawful and seriously violates human rights:

Although Vietnam has signed a number of international treaties and conventions including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which established the freedom of onion and expression and the right to information, the Vietnamese communist ruling regime has never implemented its commitments and obligations, while punishing with severe imprisonments those who exercise their rights : (report in English):
Before implementing the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), the Vietnamese government must respect human rights and realize the commitments of human rights with the EU and the United Nations. They must not keep violating seriously as how they have been doing and escalating. The Vietnamese government’s escalation of human rights violations after being approved the EVFTA  by the EU has further proven that the Vietnamese authorities disregard international commitments and keep violating rules of law, and that need to be jointly condemned, pressured and punished by international communities by specific actions.

We call for the European Union Parliament, EU delegation, the United Nations and international Human Rights organizations to require the Vietnamese government to fulfill its commitments and obligations of the EVFTA regarding human rights and civil rights protections before allowing the EVFTA coming in force in August. EVFTA should not yet be implemented when the Vietnamese government still repeatedly and seriously violates human rights and commitments as it continuously arrests and imprisons human rights activists, independent journalists, and bloggers, and suppress freedom of expression

How could the EU allow EVFTA implementation with Vietnam when the Vietnamese government seriously violates human rights and the commitments of the EVFTAWe expect that the European Union Parliament and the United Nations’ values on human rights are respected so as to request such commitments must be fulfilled by the Vietnamese government before the EVFTA is enforced. Trade must not be put beyond basic Human Rights, and Human Rights in Vietnam must be respected! Please see our previous email below for your reference.

We urgently call for your international actions to investigate the Dong Tam incident and require the Vietnamese government to fulfill commitments on human rights and release journalists & prisoners of conscience who are detained and suppressed by the authoritarian regime.

Thank you for your consideration and collaboration. (If some of you are not the person in charge, please kindly forward this email to relevant people in charge of the issue). We look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely yours, with best regards,
Thuy Le (human rights activist)
Nguyen Van Dai (human rights lawyer)
Vu Quoc Ngu (Director of Defend the Defender organization)
Le Trung Khoa (journalist)
Khai Dao (lawyer)
Anh Le (journalist)
Human rights defenders and social activists:
Minh Chinh Bui
Doan Huong
Hong Tham Pham
Ly Tran
Nguyen Huong
and other human rights activists


The open letter was sent on July 17, 2020