Vietnam’s Suppression of Political Dissidents, Social Activists and Human Rights Defenders in 2016

Vietnam Human Rights Defenders | January 19, 2017

In order to keep the country under one-party rule, Vietnam’s communist government has applied a series of measures to silence government critics, social activists and human rights advocates. In 2016, before and after the 12th National Congress of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam that took place late January, local security forces continuously harassed, intimidated and persecuted activists. Hundreds of them have been detained and beaten or have been subjected to other forms of repression throughout the year.

Hundreds of Vietnamese activists were brutally beaten by police officers and plainclothes agents in police stations or on the streets. As a result of these attacks, many activists sustained serious injuries and needed medical treatment in order to recover.

Vietnam’s security forces also detained hundreds of activists during and after peaceful demonstrations, kidnapping dozens of them for interrogation or preventing them from attending peaceful gatherings or meeting with foreign diplomats. Many activists reported that they were placed under de facto house arrest either during weekends or on weekdays.

In 2016, Vietnam imprisoned at least 16 activists for lengthy sentences on charges of anti-state activities under controversial legal provisions such as Articles 79, 88, 245 and 258 of the Penal Code. Two of them, Tran Anh Kim and Le Thanh Tung, were sentenced to 13 and 12 years in jail and an additional four and three years under house arrest, respectively. Other activists, including prominent blogger Nguyen Huu Vinh and Nguyen Dinh Ngoc, received jail terms of between two and five years for their exercising their right to freedom of speech and freedom of peaceful assembly, which are enshrined in the country’s 2013 Constitution.

Vietnam also arrested at least eight activists, including prominent human rights defender Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh (also known as Me Nam or “Mother Mushroom”), well-known blogger Ho Van Hai and activist Luu Van Vinh, and charged them with anti-state activities on the basis of Articles 79 and 88 of the Penal Code. The communist government still holds human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai and his assistant Le Thu Ha on anti-state propaganda charges under Article 88 of the Penal Code.

In addition, Vietnam implemented old tactics by using plainclothes agents to assault local activists, causing serious injuries to several of them. Victims of police brutality included Nguyen Trung Truc, Mai Van Tam, Nguyen Cong Huan, Nguyen Van Dung, La Viet Dung, Truong Minh Huong and Nguyen Bac Truyen.

In order to prevent activists from meeting with foreign diplomats and officials and their international counterparts, Vietnam barred numerous individuals from traveling abroad. Security forces also placed activists under house arrest on many occasions in order to prevent them from participating in peaceful gatherings.

Authorities in many localities used additional measures to suppress and intimidate local activists and their families in other to discourage them from continuing their human rights and pro-democracy activities.

Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Gia Lai and Lam Dong were the localities where local police showed the highest level of brutality and disrespect for the rule of law by resorting to arbitrary detention in numerous cases.

========== Arrest and imprisonment ==========

December 16: The People’s Court of Vietnam’s northern province of Thai Binh convicted two pro-democracy activists, Tran Anh Kim and Le Thanh Tung, for activities allegedly aimed at “overthrowing” the state under Article 79 of the 1999 Penal Code. The two pro-democracy fighters were sentenced to 13 and 12 years in prison followed by five and four years under house arrest, respectively.

December 16: Police in Thanh Hoa arrested Nguyen Danh Dung and charged him with “abusing democratic freedoms” under Article 258 of the country’s Penal Code, alleging that he posted online videos on social networks “defaming” the country’s leadership. If convicted, Dung will face a prison term of between two and seven years in prison, according to Vietnam’s current law.

November 30: The People’s Court in Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi rejected the appeal of local land rights activist Can Thi Theu, upholding the 20-month sentence given by the lower court two months earlier on allegations that she caused public disorder under Article 258 of the Penal Code.

November 06-16: Police in Ho Chi Minh City arrested Luu Van Vinh and Nguyen Van Duc Do, who are said to be members of the Coalition of Vietnamese People, which does not operate officially and which aims to fight for multi-party democracy. They were officially accused of conducting activities aiming to “overthrow” the government under Article 79 of the Penal Code and face a punishment of five years to life imprisonment, and even the death penalty according to Vietnam’s law. Police also detained other activists, including Nguyen Quoc Hoan, Phan Trung, Tu Cong Nghia, Linh and Nguyen Van Teo in the same case.

November 2: Police in HCMC detained well-known blogger Ho Van Hai who had posted numerous articles on the country’s systemic corruption, environmental issues and the nation’s sovereignty in the East Sea (South China Sea) on his blog and Facebook page under the penname BS Ho Hai. He is charged with “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 of the Penal Code.

October 10: Security forces in the central province of Khanh Hoa arrested prominent blogger and human rights defender Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, also known as Me Nam, saying they will hold her for the next four months to investigate charges of “anti-state propaganda” under Article 88.


October 05: The Higher People’s Court in HCMC reduced the four-year sentence of well-known blogger Nguyen Dinh Ngoc (aka Nguyen Ngoc Gia) by one year but upheld the three-year house arrest sentence that will follow the completion of his term. The well-known blogger was arrested in December 2014 on charges of conducting “anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 of the Penal Code. In late March, he was sentenced to four years in prison and an additional three years under house arrest for posting articles criticizing the ruling Communist Party and its government.

September 22: The Higher People’s Court in Hanoi rejected the appeal of prominent blogger Nguyen Huu Vinh and his assistant Nguyen Thi Thanh Thuy, sending them back to prison. The two bloggers were sentenced to three years and two years in prison by the People’s Court of Hanoi on March 23 on charges of “abusing the rights to freedom and democracy to infringe upon the interest of the state” under Article 258 of the Penal Code.


September 20: The People’s Court of Dong Da district, Hanoi, sentenced land rights activist Can Thi Theu to 20 months in prison on trumped-up charges of causing public disorder under Article 245 of the Penal Code. She had been arrested on June 10.


August 30: The People’s Court of Vietnam’s Central Highlands province of Gia Lai sentenced Ksor Phit and Siu Dik, two activists from the Ede ethnic minority, to respectively 11 and eight years in prison on charges of “undermining the national unity policy” under Article 87 of the country’s Penal Code.

According to the indictments, from early 2014, the two had incited other indigenous people to form a group with the aim to establish an independent country named Dega. They were arrested on March 11 this year. Previously, Ksor Phit served an eight-year prison term and Siu Dik spent seven months in jail on the same charges.

August 23: The People’s Court in Khanh Hoa province sentenced activists Nguyen Huu Quoc Duy and Nguyen Huu Thien An to respectively three and two years in prison, finding them guilty of conducting “anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 of the Penal Code.


The Brotherhood of Democracy said its member Hoang Van Giang from the central province of Thanh Hoa was sentenced to three years in prison on anti-state propaganda charges under Article 88 in a secret trial held in August. His family was not informed about the trial. The medical doctor was arrested on October 14, 2015 and initially charged with drug possession.


June 10: Mrs. Can Thi Theu was arrested on allegations that she caused public disorder under Article 245 of the Penal Code. The police said they arrested her due to her public order-disturbing activities in Hanoi’s Dong Da district on April 8. If proven guilty, she may face imprisonment of up to seven years in jail, according to the Vietnamese law.

March 30: Blogger Nguyen Ngoc Gia, or Nguyen Dinh Ngoc, was sentenced to four years in jail followed by three years under house arrest for posting articles “defaming” state leaders.

On the same day, the People’s Court in Ho Chi Minh City sentenced three female land petitioners for calling for political change and bringing home-made flags of the former Saigon regime to a demonstration at the U.S. Consulate General in 2014. Accordingly, Ngo Thi Minh Phuoc was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment with an additional three years under house arrest, whereas Nguyen Thi Tri and Nguyen Thi Be Hai received three-year prison sentences and two years’ house arrest.

March 24: The People’s Court in Vietnam’s central province of Thanh Hoa sentenced 73-year-old anti-corruption fighter Dinh Tat Thang to seven months and 11 days on charges of “abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the State, the legitimate rights and interests of organizations and/or citizens” under Article 258 of the Penal Code.

March 23: Hanoi People’s Court imprisoned blogger Anh Ba Sam (Nguyen Huu Vinh) and his assistant Ms. Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy to respectively five and three years in prison on charges of “abusing democratic freedoms”.

March 2: The People’s Court in Vietnam’s southern province of Long An rejected the appeal of 15-year-old Nguyen Mai Trung Tuan, saying the boy was guilty of attacking police with acid when local authorities deployed police and militia to seize his family’s land in mid-April last year.

Vietnam has been detaining human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai and his assistant Ms. Le Thu Ha since December 16, 2016 for investigation into allegations that they conducted “anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 of the Penal Code. The two pro-democracy activists have not been allowed to meet with their family members since their arrest.

===== Torture, Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment, and Forced Labor in Detention =====

Vietnamese prisoners, especially prisoners of conscience, have been subjected to various forms of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, as well as forced labor by prison authorities.

Protestant pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh, who is serving an 11-year prison sentence for “undermining the national unity policy” under Article 87 of the Penal Code, has been subjected to constant torture and ill-treatment in prisons under the management of the Ministry of Public Security.

Earlier this year, when he was held in An Phuoc Prison in Binh Phuoc province, he was supplied food which was mixed with tiny glass particles and copper wire, while the drinking water provided for prisoners of conscience allegedly had a strange smell, which may indicate that it has been intentionally contaminated with toxic or other chemical substances. In addition, the prison authorities encouraged other inmates to beat prisoners of conscience who bravely speak out to protest ill-treatment in the prison.

Many prisoners of conscience have died or suffered from serious illnesses in detention due to food poisoning with chemicals, Mr. Chinh said, adding that late chemistry teacher Dinh Dang Dinh, who was detained from 2011 to 2014, suffered from stomach cancer after being poisoned with what he believes were toxic substances. The political dissident died in April 2014, several weeks after receiving amnesty from then President Truong Tan Sang.

Later, police transferred Mr. Chinh to Xuan Loc Prison in Dong Nai province without informing his family. He has been placed in a solitary cell since October 12 and has not been allowed to pray.

Political blogger Nguyen Dinh Ngoc, also known as Nguyen Ngoc Gia, who is serving a three-year imprisonment sentence, was tortured in Ho Chi Minh City’s Chi Hoa Prison and his health has severely worsened. He was fettered two times, each time for one week. The first fettering was imposed against him from July 17-24, after he demanded the prison’s management to improve detention conditions, and the second was carried out from August 9-16 as reprisals for his denunciation of violations committed by, and bribery of, prison staff, including Major Le Van Yen, Lieutenant Huynh Van Hoa and Senior Lieutenants Nguyen Van Em and Nguyen Quang Que.

During the punishment periods, Ngoc was held in a solitary cell on a dirty cement floor. The prison’s authorities fed him with very little rice twice every day. The fettering lasted for all day and night, so he was forced to urinate in a pot placed near him. He was not allowed to wash his teeth or to take a shower during the entire fettering periods.

His family was also prevented from sending him food supplements for two months.

Authorities in many detention facilities have force prisoners to work for eight hours a day without signing a contract or paying them. In August, authorities in Prison No. 6 in the central province of Nghe An punished prominent political prisoner Tran Huynh Duy Thuc by cutting electricity in his solitary cell amid hot summer, after he refused to work under such conditions.

According to Lao Dong Viet (Viet Labor), an independent trade union in Vietnam, forced labor is rampant in Vietnamese prisons, where between 100,000 and 200,000 prisoners are forced to work without being paid or adequately compensated. Viet Labor made this conclusion based on its investigation conducted from September-December 2015. The researchers interviewed over 40 former prisoners from three regions of the country. According to their findings, inmates were forced to work in slave-like conditions. They were often beaten by prison guards. The most common type of work for prisoners consists of removing shells of cashew nut without wearing gloves, making bricks, making clothes, and farming products for export or domestic consumption.

Forced labor was found to occur in 56 out of 60 prisons across the nation. On average, prisoners have been forced to work for 40-50 hours a week.

Viet Labor considers the activity as organized by the communist government. It brings about huge profits for the communist party’s leaders, prison authorities and companies that are involved in these activities.

Prison conditions in Vietnam are harsh, with inadequate food and health care that fall short of the minimum requirements set out in the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (“Nelson Mandela Rules”) and other international standards, said Amnesty International. Prisoners of conscience are commonly held incommunicado in pre-trial detention, which makes the risks of torture and other forms of ill-treatment high. Although Vietnam has ratified the UN Convention against Torture, which came into effect in the country in February 2015, insufficient steps have been taken to bring the country into compliance with its obligations under that treaty, Amnesty International noted.

Released prisoners of conscience confirmed the conclusions of the London-based Amnesty International.

In addition, as reprisals against brave local activists, Vietnam’s authorities have often sent those who are imprisoned to places far away from their hometown, making it difficult for their families to visit them. For example, Tran Huynh Duy Thuc from Ho Chi Minh City is serving his 16-year sentence in the central province of Nghe An. The distance between the two locations exceeds 1,400 km. The distance between Xuan Loc Prison, where pastor Chinh is currently detained, and his home town is over 600 km.

========== Attacks by police officers and plainclothes agents on the streets ==========

In 2016, at least 56 activists were reported to be beaten by uniformed and plainclothes police officers, as well as thugs. These figures do not include those assaulted in or after mass demonstrations relating to environmental issues in April-June 2016.

December 26: Activist Nguyen Ho Nhat Thanh was beaten by plainclothes policemen on two occasions, before and after being kidnapped and detained at a police station in Tan My ward in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 7, where he was questioned about his activities aiming to promote human rights and multi-party democracy.

December 25: The Hanoi authorities sent policemen, militia and thugs to harass the family of environmentalist and human rights defender Nguyen Anh Tuan after he held a personal mourning ceremony for victims of hydro-dam floods in the central region in mid-December.

December 23: Activist Nguyen Van Dung was kidnapped, assaulted and robbed by plainclothes agents in the central province of Thanh Hoa as he was heading to Nghe An.

December 22: Human rights defender Truong Minh Huong was beaten by plainclothes agents in the northern province of Ha Nam. Lawyer Ha Huy Son, who was with Huong, asked traffic police to intervene but they refused. They also rejected his plea to provide injured Huong with urgent emergency.

December 21: Plainclothes agents attacked the private house of former political prisoner Pham Van Troi in Thuong Tin district, Hanoi. After cutting off electricity at his house, they threw stones and bricks to his house, causing significant damage to it.

The same tactic was employed against former prisoner of conscience Tran Duc Thach in the central province of Nghe An, a few days earlier.

Between December 15 and 24, police officials in the Central Highlands summoned a number of religious activists to police stations where they questioned and beat them. Victims included Y-Quynh Bdap, Khen Bdap and Y Wen Nie.

December 10: Blogger Trinh Ba Phuong, the older son of imprisoned land rights activist Can Thi Theu, was beaten by Hanoi police when he went to visit activists on International Human Rights Day.

December 3: Hanoi-based activist Dinh Hong Quyen was beaten by plainclothes agents while the private house of blogger Nguyen Tuong Thuy was attacked with dirty substances.

December 2: Activist Nguyen Cong Huan from Dien Chau district, Nghe An was kidnapped, beaten and robbed by plainclothes agents when he went to attend the wedding party of another activist.

November 30: On the day of the open appeal court trial for his mother Can Thi Theu, Trinh Ba Tu was detained and beaten by Hanoi police when he tried to approach the courtroom.

November 15: Blogger Vu Dat Phong from the central province of Khanh Hoa was tortured by police officers during an eight-hour detention session.

November 6: Security forces in HCMC detained at least seven activists – Luu Van Vinh, Nguyen Van Duc Do, Do Phi Truong (Mac Van Phi), Tuan Doan and three men referred to by their short names Tuan, Hung and Hoan (or Hoan Thanh Dia) – and released the last five several days later. The released activists claimed that all of them were beaten by police officers during their interrogation.

November 5, October 26: Hanoi-based activist Ngoc Anh was beaten by plainclothes agents.

October 29: Nearly one hundred of plainclothes agents in Nghe An attacked a group of activists, namely JB Nguyen Huu Vinh, Nguyen Tuong Thuy and Truong Van Dung, by throwing stones and bricks at them during their return by car from a charity mission in the flood-hit central region. The attackers caused significant damage to Vinh’s vehicle.

October 8: Security forces in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau detained a dozen activists at a seminar on civil society. A number of them, including former prisoners of conscience Le Cong Dinh and Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh, were beaten by police officers.

September 22: Hanoi plainclothes police attacked La Viet Dung when he tried to attend the open appeal court trial for prominent blogger Nguyen Huu Vinh (also known as Anh Ba Sam).

September 20: On the day of the open trial against land rights activist Can Thi Theu, the Hanoi police detained dozens of her relatives and other activists, beating Trinh Ba Tu, Phung The Dung and Nam Phuong. Female teacher Tran Thi Thao was also detained and beaten by local police.

August 27: Plainclothes police officers in the southern province of Dong Nai attacked environmental activist Nguyen Tri Quoc with stones and iron bars.

August 15: Hundreds of protestors were beaten by police who used tear gas to disperse a demonstration of around 4,000 people in Ky Anh district. The protest was triggered by the environmental disaster caused by the Formosa steel plant in the district.

August 13: Four activists led by prominent blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh were beaten by unknown individuals while they tried to cover news on an environmental dispute in Ninh Ich village, Ninh An commune, Ninh Hoa town in Khanh Hoa province.

August 12: Many Ninh Ich villagers were beaten by police while participating in a demonstration to protest the environmental pollution caused by a waste treatment plant.

August 08: HCMC-based activist Nguyen Lam Hoang Bao was detained and brutally beaten by local police for wearing a t-shirt with a human rights logo.

July 18: Nguyen Phuong, an environmental activist in HCM City, was held for hours and tortured in a police station in Phu Xuan commune, Nha Be district on July 18 when he came with his friend to demand the return of his friend’s belongings. They had been confiscated by local police during anti-Formosa demonstrations in May-June.

July 17: Blogger Truong Van Dung was beaten by police officer Nguyen Duc Khuong in a police car as the latter was “deporting” the activist from Hanoi’s center to Dong Da district. Earlier, police illegally detained Dung when he tried to participate in a peaceful anti-China protest in the city’s center.

July 13: Bac Giang plainclothes agents attacked Mr. To Oanh, a Hanoi-based blogger and pro-democracy and anti-China activist.

July 10: Hanoi plainclothes agents attacked La Viet Dung, a member of the No-U movement and pro-democracy activist in Hanoi.

July 09: Plainclothes agents in Nghe An kidnapped, robbed and beat eight members of the Brotherhood for Democracy, severely injuring Mai Van Tam and Nguyen Trung Truc.

July 7: Police violently suppressed Catholic followers in Con Se parish, Quang Loc commune, Quang Trach district, Quang Binh province as about 2,000 parishioners were holding an anti-Formosa protest. Due to the police attacks, Mr. Pham Duc, 48, sustained numerous serious injuries to his head and body. He is currently under urgent medical treatment at the Ba Don Hospital. Mr. Hoang Van Thanh, 20, and Hoang Tan Thanh, also received serious face injuries. Mr. Nguyen Van Xuan, 33, said policemen beat him on his back with batons.

July 3: Plainclothes agents in the central city of Danang brutally beat local dissident Nguyen Van Thanh. This is the third attack against Thanh within three weeks.

June 22: While preventing An Giang province-based Hoa Hao follower Mai Thi Dung from taking part in services observing the anniversary of the sect’s foundation, thugs beat Mrs. Dung, using helmets to hit her from behind and leaving her with swollen lips.

June 20: Authorities in the central city of Hue sent 200 police officers and militia to attack Thien An Church, breaking a number of items of the church and beating followers as well as threatening the church’s leadership. The move aims to take the land belonging to the church for an urban development project.

June 19-20: Authorities in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang deployed a large number of police officers and militia to attack facilities of the Cao Dai Buddhist sect in Cho Moi district, beating local followers. Due to the attack, Ms. Le Thi Hong Hanh and Ms. Nguyen Thi Bich Ngoc suffered severe injuries.

June 19: Police forces in the northernmost province of Lao Cai stormed a Protestant church in Muong Khuong district, destroying the church and beating many followers, including the elderly and women.

June 13: Nguyen Van Thanh, who has posted online articles calling for multi-party democracy and better human rights protections, was attacked with a dirty substance made of shrimp sauce (mam tom) by thugs in Danang, just eight days after he was severely beaten by plainclothes agents.

May 16-22: Police detained and beat a number of activists: Tran Hoang Han, Nguyen Huu Tinh, Nguyen Phuong and Tran Ngoc Anh from Vung Tau city, Nguyen Van Trang from Thanh Hoa province and Nguyen Viet Dung from Nghe An.

April 6: Police in the central province of Quang Binh used tear gas and electric batons to suppress Catholic followers in Huong Phuong parish, Vinh diocese when the followers protested the local authorities’ destruction of their Easter decoration. Priest Phero Le Nam Cao reported that four followers were bleeding from their faces while one sustained eye injuries.

April 1: Nguyen Cong Thu, a staff of Defend the Defenders, was severely beaten by numerous police officers and plainclothes agents in his home province of An Giang. The attackers threatened to kill him if he continued his human rights activities, including those that promote the right to freedom of religion or belief. In response to the assault, Defend the Defenders strongly condemned the brutal acts committed by security forces in the province, particularly in Cho Moi district, and said these forces are responsible for the safety of Mr. Thu and his family.

==========  Detention and torture in police custody ==========

November-December: Police in HCM City arrested Luu Van Vinh, Nguyen Van Duc Do, Phan Trung and other activists, accusing them of establishing a group aiming to overthrow the government. All of them were tortured during interrogation.

July 18: Ten policemen in Phu Xuan commune, Nha Be district, HCMC sealed the mouth and tied the hands of environmentalist Nguyen Phuong with tapes, and beat him in a room at 11:00pm until he collapsed on the floor. Phuong was detained from 2:00pm to midnight solely because he filmed the police facility.

June 5: Vietnam’s security forces in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Danang and other localities arrested nearly one hundred environmental activists during peaceful demonstrations demanding government transparency in relation to a serious environmental disaster in the central coastal region which has killed hundreds of tons of marine species since April 6, 2016.

A number of activists were severely beaten by police officers while in police custody. Among the victims of police abuse are Pham Nam Hai in Hanoi, Nguyen Van Thanh in the central province of Danang, and Nguyen Van Do and Facebook activist Huy Truong Le in Saigon. The tortured activists said they suffered serious injuries to their bodies.

Hanoi’s authorities arrested around 70 activists and released them in the afternoon, while police in HCMC still held many activists, including Mr. Luu Van Vinh, Ms. Tran Thi Nguyet, Mr. Truong Huy Le, and Mr. Khanh Le Hoang, in the social rehabilitation facility No. 463 in No Trang Long street. The facility is used to hold sex workers, criminals and drug addicts for interrogation. In mid-May in this facility, police held hundreds of activists for several days. Many said that they were beaten with electrical batons during their questioning.

May 27-28: Security forces in Vietnam’s Central Highlands province of Gia Lai continued to harass Mrs. Tran Thi Hong, the wife of imprisoned Protestant pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh, said the Vietnam-U.S. Lutheran Alliance Church. In the mornings of May 27 and 28, police officers in Hoa Lu ward of Pleiku city broke the door of Mrs. Hong’s private residence and forcibly took her to the police station for interrogation. She was beaten while in police custody.

May 20-22: Vietnam’s security forces detained Nguyen Viet Dung twice, severely beating him during the three-day visit of U.S. President Barack Obama in a bid to prevent him from meeting with the American leader. He was first arrested in Saigon on May 20 and deported to Vinh after being interrogated and tortured. In Vinh, he was detained by the local police who held him for several days during which they severely beat him.

May 8: Police in HCMC used violence, attacking protestors with tear gas and severely beating activists. Some of the victims bled as a result. Bloggers said police detained over 300 activists and held them at a local stadium under the hot sun.

April 28-May 4: Former prisoners of conscience Truong Minh Tam and Chu Manh Son were detained by security on April 28 as they travelled to the central province of Ha Tinh to cover news on the massive death of aquatic species there. Tam was released on May 4 and Son was released earlier. Tam said during his seven-day detention, police officers forced him to take off all his clothes and beat him. They also cursed him with “dirty words.” Tam said police did not show him any warrant or decision of authorized agencies for his detention.

May 1: Police in HCMC and Danang violently suppressed peaceful anti-Formosa protests, beating many people and detaining around 30 activists.

April 14: Police in Vietnam’s Central Highlands province of Gia Lai brutally beat Tran Thi Hong, the wife of prisoner of conscience and Protestant pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh, while questioning her about a recent meeting with U.S. diplomats.

April 8: Dozens of Vietnamese activists gathered in a cafeteria in Hanoi to mark the tenth anniversary of the pro-democracy group “Bloc 8406” and to discuss the situation of detained human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai and his assistant Le Thu Ha. Local security forces blocked the cafeteria in Lang Ha Street near the U.S. Embassy, detaining eight activists, including former prisoners of conscience Nguyen Trung Nghia and Thai Van Dung, activists Truong Dung, Tu Anh Tu and Can Thi Theu, and four land petitioners. Plainclothes agents brutally assaulted Nghia, Truong, Dung and Tu in front of hundreds of people and passers-by.

March 20: Police in Ho Chi Minh City detained and severely beat 15 young local activists who gathered in a local cafeteria to learn computer skills under the guidance of Professor Dr. Pham Minh Hoang, a former political prisoner. The victims complained that they suffered serious injuries as a result of the police attack. Police also confiscated a laptop belonging to Mr. Hoang.

========== Restrictions on freedoms of peaceful assembly and movement ==========

More than a hundred Vietnamese activists have complained that they are being blocked from traveling abroad due to their activities. In addition, local authorities placed some of them under de facto house arrest or prevented them from taking part in meetings with foreign officials and diplomats.

December 28-31: Police forces in Ha Nam blocked human rights activist Tran Thi Nga from going out while security forces in HCM City placed labor activist Do Thi Minh Hanh under house arrest.

Prior to Christmas, security forces in the Central Highlands blocked many religious activists from going out.

December 15: Authorities in many Vietnamese localities, including Hanoi and Nghe An, deployed security forces to the private residences of activists, putting them under de facto house arrest one day prior to the open trial against two pro-democracy campaigners, Tran Anh Kim and Le Thanh Tung.

November 10: Catholic priest Phan Van Loi from Hue city said he was barred from going out by plainclothes policemen.

October 28: Hanoi’s authorities deployed a large number of police officers to block local activists from attending the fifth anniversary of the No-U Football Club, a football team of people who oppose China’s illegal claim to nearly the entire East Sea (South China Sea). Victims included activists Nguyen Tuong Thuy, Vu Quoc Ngu, Pham Thanh, Phung The Dung and Nguyen Hoa.

September 26: Security forces in Noi Bai International Airport stopped DTD’s Chief Executive Officer Vu Quoc Ngu from boarding an international flight to Paris, where he was invited to attend a conference on freedom of the press organized by Reporters Without Borders.

September 24: Security forces in Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport blocked activist Phan Cam Huong and her son from taking an international flight to Singapore. Police said the measure was based on “national security” reasons according to Decree 136 of the government regulating citizens’ exit and entry.

August 24: Security forces prevented Mr. Lax Konrad, a political officer from the German embassy in Vietnam, from visiting prominent social activist Dr. Nguyen Quang A in the latter’s private residence in Que Vo district, Bac Ninh province.

July 31: Vietnam’s security forces barred Protestant pastor Pham Ngoc Thach from taking an international flight to Timor Leste where he was invited to attend the 2016 Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief in Southeast Asia. Police confiscated the pastor’s passport without providing him with any explanation.

July 6: Security forces in Hanoi detained Mrs. Vu Minh Khanh, the wife of detained human rights lawyer and political dissident Nguyen Van Dai, for questioning for ten hours upon her arrival from Bangkok after a long journey abroad to lobby for her husband’s release.

July 1: Security forces in Hanoi barred a number of local activists, including human rights lawyer Le Quoc Quan and blogger Nguyen Huu Vinh from attending an event organized by the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam to mark the American Independence Day (July 4). The activists were blocked by a large number of police officers and plainclothes agents when they left their private residences for the embassy.

June 30: Police in Ho Chi Minh City detained two local activists, Mr. Tran Tu Long and his girlfriend Ms. Truong Tue Minh, and released them the next day.

June 29: Police forces in the central province of Quang Tri detained former prisoner of conscience Pham Minh Vu but released him the next day. They seem to have failed to gather evidence to support their claim that he conducted “anti-state activities.”

July 3: HCMC-based activist Hoang Dung was detained but freed in the late afternoon of the same day.

June 24: Security forces in Hanoi violently dispersed a peaceful demonstration of land petitioners in the city’s center, detaining around 20 of them for interrogation. Among the detainees was Trinh Ba Phuong, the older son of land rights activist and former prisoner of conscience Can Thi Theu, who was re-arrested on June 10 and charged with causing public disorder under Article 245 of the Penal Code.

June 13: Hanoi security forces detained two sons of Mrs. Can Thi Theu, Trinh Ba Phuong and Trinh Ba Tu, and many other land petitioners for ten hours after they held a peaceful demonstration in the front of the government building in Ha Dong district to demand her release. Police confiscated cameras and cell phones of the detainees, erasing all data including pictures and videos before returning the devices to them.

June 13: 30 government authorities, including high-level officials, stormed a local church in the northern province of Cao Bang. During the onslaught, multiple churchgoers were beaten and two were arrested, including a 14-year-old. The priest was held for interrogation, and authorities attempted to force him to sign a statement admitting that the church’s activities disrupted the community and endangered security.

June 2: Prominent government critic Dr. Nguyen Quang A was kidnapped and briefly held by the Hanoi police a few hours ahead of his scheduled meeting with two senior diplomats from the EU.

June 3: Security forces in Hanoi arrested Ta Tri Hai, a street musician who often sings patriotic songs in anti-China peaceful demonstrations in Hanoi and Saigon, and held him for several days in a social rehabilitation center that is used to hold sex workers, criminals and drug addicts despite his strong protest, the victim told his friends.

May 29: Security forces in Vietnam’s capital city of Hanoi detained a number of environmental activists who conducted a street sit-in demonstration in the city’s center demanding government transparency in the mass killing of aquatic species off the country’s central coast. Among the detainees were bloggers La Viet Dung, Tran Thuy Nga, Nguyen Thi Thuy Hanh, Dang Phuong Bich, Truong Van Dung, and Nguyen Van Phuong.

May 20-25: Vietnam’s security forces detained a number of activists while keeping many others under house arrest a few days ahead of the planned meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and local civil society organizations (CSOs). Police detained Hanoi-based blogger Doan Trang and Vu Huy Hoang while security forces in the central city of Nha Trang violently arrested bloggers Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh (aka Me Nam or “Mother Mushroom”) and Mr. Nguyen Ba Vinh.

On May 20, police in Ho Chi Minh City detained former prisoner of conscience Nguyen Viet Dung, the founder and leader of the unsanctioned Republican Party of Vietnam, and questioned him until late afternoon on May 22. The young activist was forced to take a flight to his home province of Nghe An. However, Dung went missing after landing in Vinh Airport, and bloggers suggested that he was being held by the local police.

Dozens of political dissidents, social activists and human rights defenders across the nation have reported that they were under de facto house arrest as local authorities deployed a large number of police officers to station around their private residences and to prevent them from going out.

June 15: Dozens of environmentalists were detained in HCMC, Hanoi and other places after holding short protests against the Formosa plant, including Huynh Ngoc Chenh, Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, Vo Chi Dai Duong, Long Tran, Ha Nam, Lau Nhat Phong, Cao Tran Tuan, Vinh Le, Hoang Vuong, Vu Ngoc Lan, and Manh Kim, and Catholic priests Le Ngoc Thanh and Le Van Loc.

May 12: Police in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai summoned Tran Thi Hong, the wife of imprisoned Protestant pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh, to the police station, where they interrogated and beat her.

May 10: Many Hanoi-based members of the Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam (IJAVN), including its Vice-President Nguyen Tuong Thuy and members Vu Quoc Ngu and Le Anh Hung, were barred from attending a meeting with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Tom Malinowski, who is visiting the Southeast Asian communist country to prepare the upcoming visit of President Barack Obama.

May 8: In Hanoi, police violently arrested and detained around 100 activists who were on their ways to the city’s center. Police also arrested dozens who were sitting on the pavement near Hoan Kiem Lake. Detainees were taken to police stations where police officers questioned them. Some reported that police beat several detainees before releasing them in late afternoon.

May 1: On Sunday, around 5,000 people gathered in central Hanoi and 2,000 participated in a peaceful demonstration in Ho Chi Minh City. In many localities, such as Danang, Quang Tri and Quang Binh, hundreds of people also took to the streets to raise their concerns over the mass fish death and Formosa plant’s suspected role in discharging improperly-treated waste into the sea.

April 24: Security forces in Hanoi detained five activists at a meeting at a local restaurant to mark the third anniversary of the pro-democracy group named “Brotherhood for Democracy.” The detainees were freed in the late evening on the same day without being ill-treated or questioned.

April 17: Police barred a number of members of the Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam (IJAVN), including President Pham Chi Dung and Vice-Presidents Nguyen Tuong Thuy and Bui Minh Quoc, from going out to attend a scheduled meeting in Hanoi to discuss the upcoming visit of President Barack Obama to the communist country, the first and the only trip of incumbent American President to Vietnam.

April 14: The Investigation Agency of Hanoi detained pro-democracy activist Ngo Duy Quyen to question him about a petition many independent civil social organizations sent to the Minister of Public Security, demanding an end to police torture. This is Quyen’s second detention. On February 4, police detained him, searched his private residence and illegally confiscated many personal items, including laptops, cell phones, books and money.

April 4: Mai Van Tam, who represented the newly-formed Vietnam Independent Civil Society Organizations Network (VICSON) in meetings of the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People’s Forum (ACSC/APF) in Bangkok from March 31-April 3, was detained and questioned by security forces upon landing at Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport. After eight hours of interrogation, police released him in the very early morning of Tuesday without returning his passport. Tam said he was beaten by police officers in the Police Investigation Agency in Hanoi when he came to request his passport’s return.

In late 2016, Tam went to Ba Don town police to have his new identification card but the police refused to grant him, saying that he could not get a new ID due to his activism. In July, he and other activists were kidnapped, beaten and robbed by Nghe An province’s plainclothes agents who took all of their belongings and old identity documents.

January 7-9: Police in Hanoi and Nghe An kidnapped activists Nguyen Huy Tuan and Truong Minh Tam and robbed them before leaving them in remote areas. Tuan was severely beaten.

========== Other forms of harassment and intimidation ==========

Vietnam’s security forces have pursued their intimidation against Hanoi-based activists Ngo Duy Quyen and his wife Le Thi Cong Nhan after detaining the husband, searching their private residence and robbing them of money and personal items on February 6.

Mr. Quyen, a member of the charity group Bau Bi Tuong Than (People’s Solidarity) which has provided financial assistance to prisoners of conscience and their families, reported from his home town of Bac Giang that many security agents were gathering around his family’s house where he and his younger brother Ngo Quynh run a farm. Mrs. Nhan, a former political prisoner and a member of the independent labor union Lao Dong Viet (Viet Labor) said from Hanoi that the private apartment of her mother, in which the couple lives, was also blocked by many police officers.

Police in Vietnam’s Central Highlands province of Lam Dong continue their persecution of local activist Tran Minh Nhat, a former political prisoner. Late in the night of February 13, thugs attacked the private house of Mr. Nhat’s father with stones, breaking window glasses and lamps and threatening Nhat and his family members. The previous night, thugs burned dried wood near the house but the family detected the fire and successfully extinguished it.

Human rights activists Nguyen Van Huong and Tran Thuy Nga from Ha Nam province have been under constant persecution of the local authorities, which have sent large number of plainclothes agents to station near their private residences and attack them with stones and dirty substances.

Authorities in the central province of Thanh Hoa continuously harassed pro-democracy activist Nguyen Trung Ton and his family. In addition to making public fake denunciations through local media, on the radio and through neighborhood loudspeakers, plainclothes agents also troubled the businesses of his wife in a local wet market. They even destroyed her booth of seafood products.

Many activists complained that their businesses have been affected by the intervention of local authorities as retribution for their political engagement.

========== Suppression of religious groups ==========

Authorities in many localities have suppressed religious groups, especially unregistered ones.

In August, authorities in HCM City evicted monks and destroyed the Lien Tri Buddhist Temple which belonged to the unsanctioned Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV).

In June, authorities in Hue City again attacked the Catholic Monastery of Thien An, which was targeted for land grabs in the past few years.

Followers and clerks of the unsanctioned Cao Dai and Hoa Hao sects in the Mekong Delta, as well as Protestant Mennonites in the Central Highlands and the northern mountainous region, were regularly subjected to government persecution. Many of them have been beaten, arrested and charged with “conducting activities to undermine the unity policy” under Article 87 of the country’s Penal Code.