Activist Luu Van Vinh Allowed to Meet with Family After More than One Year of Arrest as Investigation over Subversion Ends

Mr. Luu Van Vinh (left) and Mr. Nguyen Van Duc Do

By Defend the Defenders, November 13, 2017

Security forces in Ho Chi Minh say they completed an investigation against pro-democracy activist Luu Van Vinh after more than one year of incommunicado detention.

The police said they handed the investigation results to the city’s People’s Procuracy and advised it to prosecute him on allegation of conducting attempts to overthrow the government under Article 79 of the country’s 1999 Penal Code.

Mr. Vinh, who was detained on November 6, 2016, was allowed to meet with his wife and two kids for 15 minutes, the first meeting since his arrest on November 12.

Nguyen Thi Thap, the wife said his health has been degraded seriously due to continuous interrogation and inhumane treatment during the detention. He looks slim with poor eyes and worsened skin.

For the first time he was told that his father passed away seven months ago or five months after his arrest.

His wife informed him that she had to abandon the business he started before being arrested due to harassments of authorities in HCM City. With the help of some activists, she started her work as clothes sewing to earn money to feed their two kids and supply him with some additional food every month.

Vinh, 49, is a handyman, electrician and plumber from the northern province of Hai Duong who moved to HCM City several years ago. His family, including three children aged between six and 19-year-old, joined him in 2015.

Vinh participated in many peaceful demonstrations in Hanoi and HCM City to protest China’s violations of Vietnam’s sovereignty in the East Sea (South China Sea) and the Taiwanese Formosa’s discharge of huge amount of toxic industrial waste into sea waters in the central province of Ha Tinh which caused massive death of fisheries in four central coastal provinces.

He had been detained and beaten many times, including the three-day arrest in May, 2016 after he took part in a peaceful demonstration on environmental issue.

Vinh was beaten and detained in his private residence in the city during the lunch on November 6 while his friend Nguyen Van Duc Do was arrested after visiting Vinh’s house earlier on the same day. Police also detained between nearly ten others related in the same case on the same day but released them after torturing and interrogating them for several days, the victims said after being released.

The arrests were said to be linked to the Coalition for Self-determined Vietnamese People. Mr. Vinh founded the coalition in mid-July last year and became the president of the organization which aims to end the communists’ political monopoly. All major issues of the country should be decided by the people via referendums, according to its founding statement.

However, Vinh was reported to have left the coalition few days before being detained.

After Vinh’s detention, Amnesty International issued a statement calling on Vietnam’s government to immediately and unconditionally release him and his friend Do.

In November last year, the UN Human Rights Office for Southeast Asia called on Vietnam to release three rights advocates who were detained by the government and to investigate allegations that the trio were tortured while in custody.

In its statement issued Tuesday, the UN agency said prominent blogger Ho Van Hai and two political activists pushing for greater freedoms Vietnam, Vinh and Do, should be granted unconditional release.

The arrests of Vinh and other activists are part of Vietnam’s intensifying crackdown against local dissidents, social activists and human rights defenders amid increasing public awareness about the country’s socio-economic problems, including systemic corruption and widespread environmental pollution.

So far this year, Vietnam has arrested and tried or expelled 25 activists in the ongoing hardest campaign against government critics.

According to Amnesty International, Vietnam holds nearly 90 prisoners of conscience while other human rights organizations said 165 activists are held in prison now. Hanoi always denies of holding any prisoners of conscience but only law violators.