Vietnam Female Activist Kidnapped, Tortured after Participating in Peaceful Demonstrations

Activist Cao Hoang  Tram Anh with a banner to protest the bill on Special Economic Zones

Defend the Defenders, June 29, 2018


Vietnamese female activist Cao Hoang Tram Anh has been kidnapped and tortured for hours after participating in recent peaceful demonstrations to protest two bills on Special Economic Zones and Cyber Security, the victim told Defend the Defenders.

Ms. Anh, a designer from the central province of Khanh Hoa and lives in its coastal city of Nha Trang, told Defend the Defenders that she was abducted by four men in early hours of June 25.

The men sprayed a liquid to her face so she fell unconscious and they took her to a abandoned house in the city where they tortured her physically and mentally for hours, Anh said.

They released her in the early morning of the same day, she said. She is still shocked and could not remember much of the incident.

After she went missing, other activists had alerted to seek for her on social network. They suggested that security forces in Khanh Hoa were under the abduction in response to her social engagement.

Anh told Defend the Defenders that before her kidnap, police in Khanh Hoa came to her apartment twice to request her not to write about politics.

Ms. Anh has posted a number of articles about country’s issues on her Facebook account Hoang Paris, particularly on systemic corruption, human rights violations and the increasing Chinese influence on the Vietnamese regime despite Beijing’s violations of the country’s sovereignty in the South China Sea.

According to pictures circulated on social network, including Facebook, Ms. Anh participated in peaceful demonstrations in Nha Trang in mid-June.

On June 10, tens of thousands of Vietnamese rallied on streets of Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Danang, Nha Trang and other cities to protest the bills on Special Economic Zones and Cyber Security. The peaceful demonstrations were biggest for decades which attracted ordinary peoples in many localities across the nation.

In response, the Vietnamese security forces responded aggressively, sending large numbers of riot police, militia and plainclothes agents to disperse the crowds. In many places, police used tear gas and smoke bombs as well as water cannons and even Long Range Acoustic Devices (LRADs) to suppress peaceful demonstrations on Sunday. According to state media, the devices were imported from the US for equiping patrol ships of the Vietnam Coast Guard.

Police were reported to detain hundreds of protestors during the protests or after that, most of them being interrogated and beaten for hours. Many activists, including Nguyen Thuy Hanh from Hanoi and Trinh Toan, his wife Nguyen Thanh Loan and Catholic follower Nguyen Ngoc Lua in HCM City suffered severe injuries after being attacked by police.

Defend the Defenders has learned that sometime police filmed peaceful demonstrations, recognizing the most active protestors or organizators so later they arrested them or summoned them to police stations for questioning and other forms of harassments.

In order to keep the country under a one-party regime, the communist government has little tolerance to local dissent. Along arresting hundreds of activists and sentencing them to lengthy imprisonments on trumped-up politically-motivated cases, Vietnam has also applied many forms of persecution against dissidents, including kidnap and torture, close surveillance and block all economic activities as well as international travel ban.

Although the right to assembly is enshrined in the country’s 2013 Constitution, the government does not welcome spontanous demonstrations and has violently dispersed the protests which can challenge its power. Peaceful protestors may be arrested and charged with “causing public disorders,” “disrupting security” and “resisting on-duty state officials” in the Penal Code.