Report on the kidnapping, torture and robbery inflicted to Pastor Nguyen Trung Ton
President Tran Dai Quang
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc
Minister of Public Security To Lam
Chairwoman of the National Assembly Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan
Head of the Police Department in Thanh Hoa Province
Head of the Police Department in Ha Tinh Province
Head of the Police Department in Quang Binh Province
International and domestic human rights organizations
My name is Nguyen Trung Ton, I was born in 1971 (Identification card: 1972). My place of residence is Yen Co villate, Quang Yen commune, Quang Xuong district, Thanh Hoa province.
I write this report to you on the recent case as follows.
In the afternoon of February 27, 2017, my friend Nguyen Viet Tu, who is also from Quang Yen commune, and I planned to go to Quang Binh in a bid to search for the remains of Nguyen Ba Dat, my step-father and my older brother Nguyen Trung Tien, who were killed during the Vietnam War as soldiers of the Vietnam People’s Army. Mr. Dat is said to have fallen somewhere in Quang Binh or Quang Tri province, while Mr. Tien is believed to be in Hue.
We took a taxi from Tu’s house to Quang Thinh commune in Thanh Hoa City and then took a bus to Quang Binh, specifically Con Se in Quang Loc district, where we wanted to meet with some friends. Last year, I participated in a charity campaign to support local residents to overcome the consequences of the floods in Con Se, and I wanted to re-visit the place as well as ask information about my relatives.
At 1:00pm, we took a Hanoi-Saigon bus, namely Chien The. Two individuals were following us with a suspicious behavior. The bus was scheduled to arrive in Ba Don town at 7:00pm on the same day but when the bus stopped for dinner, the driver said the bus was broken and needed to be repaired. Finally, the bus arrived in Ba Don at 9:30pm and we left the bus.
At the bus station, a group of seven or eight young men were waiting for us. One of them beat me in the face while others held me. They took us into a seven-seat white car. Inside the car, the kidnappers took off our clothes and robbed us of our belongings, covering our heads with cloth. They started to beat us with iron bars.
They did not inform us why they acted like this. The car was moving and they continued to beat us. I and my friend were beaten by at least six thugs.
After several hours, the car stopped in a remote area and they took us out of the car. They continued to beat me, making me unable to move.
After a while, they took us back into the car and continued to move. On several occasions, they placed phone calls and asked the person they were speaking to how to handle us.
When they talked with each other, I recognized their accents. Four of them had a Thanh Hoa accent while two others had accents from Ha Tinh and Quang Binh. Later, they freed us in a rubber plantation after tying us with our clothes. We were released in a remote location during a cold night in a mountainous area.
When they left, I tried to see their car registration number; however, I could not since its plate was covered in mud.
We struggled to untie ourselves and went to the nearest house, that of forest farmers who provided us with warm clothes and instant noodles as well as clean water. It was nearly 2:00am on February 28.
I asked the farmers to contact my wife in Thanh Hoa. In early morning of Tuesday, a local resident took us to his house and provided us some food and money so we can take a taxi to return to Thanh Hoa. Residents said the place where we were released was in Huong Khe district of Ha Tinh province.
In Thanh Hoa, we underwent a medical check-up. The results showed that we suffered from numerous muscle injuries.
They robbed me of my belongings, including my ID card, my driver’s license, the death notices of the two fallen soldiers, my watch, a ring, an Iphone 4 and an Iphone 5, VND 5 million ($220), as well as clothes and footwear.
They also stole my friend’s belongings, including his ID card, passport and driver’s license, a Samsung smart phone and a Nokia cell phone, VND 2.5 million, clothes and footwear.
I believe the kidnapping, torture and robbery inflicted to us may have been carried out by security forces of three provinces Ha Tinh, Thanh Hoa and Quang Binh, as we have not been involved in disputes with anyone. If the attackers had been criminal, they would have robbed us but would not have tortured us in such a brutal way.
I have spoken out against injustice as well as participated in charity events in Quang Binh in 2016. Security forces in Thanh Hóa have regularly blocked me from going out. This time, they might have wanted to show their aggressiveness against me and my friend.
Because of the severe injuries caused by the kidnappers, we could not report the crime immediately to local authorities. I have recovered only partly, so I can write this letter, and I hope you can investigate the case and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Thanh Hoa, March 3, 2017
Nguyen Trung Ton
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