Wife of Imprisoned Vietnamese Human Rights Activist Calls for Help from UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Pastor Nguyen Trung Ton was kidnapped, robbed and brutally beaten by plainclothes agents in March, 2017

By Defend the Defenders, November 10, 2017

Mrs. Nguyen Thi Lanh, the wife of imprisoned human rights activist Nguyen Trung Ton, has sent an open letter to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein to call for help while her family is being harassed by local authorities.

In the letter dated on November 9, 2017, Mrs. Lanh said after her husband was arrested on July 30 and charged with subversion under Article 79 of the country’s 1999 Penal Code, her family has also been under harassment and intimidation of authorities in the central province of Thanh Hoa.

The detention of Mr. Ton, a former prisoner of conscience, is part of Vietnam’s ongoing crackdown on local political dissidents, human rights defenders, social activists and online bloggers.

Since his arrest, Mrs.Lanh, a seller of glossary in a local market, has become the person responsible for taking care of his old mother and two kids, one of them has problem with health and mentality.

Soon after his detention, his blind mother was hospitalized for surgery. His second 19-year-old daughter, who has 20-kg weight and 1.2-meter height, was also taken to hospital due to blood shortage.

While she was facing financial difficulties, some Vietnamese were willing to support her family by sending financial aid to her bank account. However, when she went to a local bank to withdraw her money, a female police officer robbed her ID and demanded her to go to a police station for “working.”

Since November 3, local police have summoned her to their headquarters where she was interrogated by security officers from Thanh Hoa province’s Police Department.

During the interrogation, police officers demanded her to provide them her bank accounts. They said that she is receiving money from “terrorist groups.”

In her letter, Mrs. Lanh called on the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to use his power to ask Vietnam’s authorities to stop their persecution against her family. The moves of Thanh Hoa province’s police are terror acts, she said.

Mr. Ton is a Protestant pastor. He was sentenced to two years in prison and two years under house arrest on allegation of “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 of the Penal Code. He was released in January 2013.

He joined the Brotherhood for Democracy established by prominent human rights attorney Nguyen Van Dai and others.

In March, Mr. Ton and his friend were kidnapped, robbed and brutally beaten by plainclothes agents when they visited the central province of Quang Binh. The attackers beat him and broke his legs and later left the duo at a remote area.

Due to the assault, he spent months in hospital for leg surgery. His treatment for injuries continued until his arrest in late July.

Her glossary booth at a local wet market had sometimes been attacked with dirty mess.

According to Vietnam’s current law, Ton faces life imprisonment or even death penalty if convicted.