Police in Central Vietnam Brutally Beat Activists, Relatives Coming to Welcome Released Prisoner of Conscience

Mr. Khiem and his two sons who were brutally beaten by Nghe An police
Mr. Khiem and his two sons who were brutally beaten by Nghe An police

[themify_box style=”green, announcement, rounded” ]Two sons of Mr. Khiem, Trinh Ba Phuong and Trinh Ba Tu and several activists, including female blogger Mai Thanh,  were severely assaulted, with numerous injuries in their faces and bodies. Policemen also confiscated their cell phones and broke a number of cameras.[/themify_box]

by Vu Quoc Ngu, June 25, 2015

Police and militia in Vietnam’s central province of Nghe An on June 25 brutally attacked a group of relatives and activists coming to a local prison to welcome Mr. Trinh Ba Khiem, a prisoner of conscience released one month before his term ends.

Mr. Khiem, a farmer in Duong Noi village in Hanoi who land was seized by local authorities for a urban area development. In early 2014, he was arrested and sentenced to 18 months in prison for conducting public disorders when he and other villagers peacefully protested their land grabbing without paying reasonable compensation.

After the unfair trial, Mr. Khiem was transferred to Prison No. 6 managed by the Ministry of Public Security in Thanh Chuong district. Few months ago, Khiem’s health worsened due to hard conditions in prison and inhumane treatment of the prison’s authorities against prisoners of concern.

The prison’s authorities agreed to release Khiem today, one month before his term end due to his bad health.

In early morning of Thursday, when relatives and activists came near the prison’s gate, the prison’s authorities sent policemen and called on local militia to block the group and later attack them.

Two sons of Mr. Khiem, Trinh Ba Phuong and Trinh Ba Tu and several activists, including female blogger Mai Thanh,  were severely assaulted, with numerous injuries in their faces and bodies. Policemen also confiscated their cell phones and broke a number of cameras.

Finally, the prison’s authorities released Mr. Khiem, as they promised.

Mr. Khiem’s wife Can Thi Theu is currently imprisoned in a prison in the neighbor province of Thanh Hoa. She was sentenced to 15 months in jail.

Khiem and Theu are among seven farmers in Duong Noi have been jailed between six and 22 months for objecting illegal seizure of their land by Hanoi’s authorities.

Land grabbing is a thorny issue in the communist Vietnam when all land belongs to the state and residents have only right to use. The state and local authorities can take their land for socio-economic projects or just for development of urban areas and industrial zones.

When farmers object the land seizure and demand for adequate compensation on market prices, they will be accused of conducting public disorders and objecting on-duty state officials and face harassments and imprisonment./.