Leader of Unregistered Republican Party of Vietnam Kidnapped While Taking Lunch in Home Province

Mr. Nguyen Viet Dung was beaten by thugs after participating in peaceful anti-China protest on March 14, 2017

By Defend the Defenders, September 27, 2017

Nguyen Viet Dung, the president and founder of the unsanctioned Republican Party of Vietnam, was kidnapped by plainclothes agents at noon of September 27 while taking lunch in his native province of Nghe An, according to local activists.

The group of around ten kidnappers came with three motorbikes and a seven-seat car. They took Dung when he was taking his lunch with other three friends in a small restaurant near Song Ngoc Catholic church in Quynh Ngoc commune, Quynh Luu district.

The kidnappers acted so fast that any local people can react. In hurry, the kidnapers left one of their motorbikes with some documents. No arrest warrant was read during their action.

Local residents said the kidnappers are completely strange to them.

The fate of Mr. Dung is unknown.

Mr. Dung was a former prisoner of conscience. He was arrested on April 12, 2014 several days after declaring the establishment of the Republican Party of Vietnam. He and four friends were detained by Hanoi security forces right after they attended a peaceful demonstration in the city’s center to protest the local government’s plan to chop down 6,700 aged valuable trees in some of the city’s main streets.

The police released his friends but kept Dung and accused him of “causing public disorders” under Article 245 of the country’s Penal Code. Later he was sentenced to 15 months in prison in a trial which failed to meet international standards for fair trial.

The UN Human Rights Council- Working Group on Arbitrary Detention considered his detention arbitrary (see details: https://vietnamhumanrightsdefenders.net/core_20150131-130254/2016/03/09/opinions-adopted-working-group-arbitrary-detention-seventy-fourth-session-30-november-4-december-2015-opinion-no-452015-concerning-nguyen-viet-dung-vietnam/)

Since being released in July 2015, Dung has continued to participate in many social activities which aim to promote human rights and protest China’s violations of Vietnam’s sovereignty in the East Sea (South China Sea).

He was kidnapped and beaten by security forces many times, including the detention prior to the visit of then U.S. President Barack Obama to Vietnam in May last year. (see our archives: https://vietnamhumanrightsdefenders.net/core_20150131-130254/category/nguyen-viet-dung/).

The kidnap of Mr. Dung is one of series of brutal acts of Vietnam’s security forces against local political dissidents, human rights defenders, social activists and online bloggers.

Along with arresting 16 activists and charging them with severe allegations under national security provisions in the Penal Code since the beginning of this year, Vietnam’s security forces have also kidnapped, tortured and robbed a number of others.

On September 23, security forces in Ho Chi Minh City broke in a private residence in the city and detained blogger Nguyen Dinh Ha and two others. Security officers confiscated their laptops and cell phones, torturing them and forced them to confess of conducting anti-government activities. Police released them after 20 hours without returning their belongings.

On September 20, police officers came to the University of Banking located in Thu Duc district, HCM City to detain student Le Minh Son and held him for three days in police custody for interrogation. Son is a member of the Students’ Association for Human Rights found by detained activist Tran Hoang Phuc. Phuc was arrested in early March and charged with “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 of Vietnam’s Penal Code.

Kidnap, detention, robbery, torture and interrogation are common practices applied by Vietnam’s security forces against local political dissidents, human rights defenders, social activists and online bloggers. Dozens of activists have become victims of police and plain clothes agents in the past few years and many of them sustained severe injuries.

The Communist Party of Vietnam has ruled the country for decades and has no plan to share its power with other parties. Its government has strived to prevent the formation of opposition party by arresting numerous activists and charging them with controversial articles such as Article 79, 88 and 258 of the Penal Code with heavy sentences.

In July-August, Vietnam sentenced two female human rights activists Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh and Tran Thi Nga with respective ten and nine years in prison. Both female activists who have two kids each were convicted with conducting anti-state propaganda under Article 88.

Since late July, Vietnam has arrested seven activists namely Nguyen Bac Truyen, Pham Van Troi, Nguyen Trung Ton, Nguyen Trung Truc, Le Dinh Luong and Nguyen Van Tuc and charged them with subversion. The activists are facing life imprisonment or even death penalty if are convicted, according to the current Vietnamese law.