Former Prisoner of Conscience Bui Thi Minh Hang Kidnapped, Robbed by Hanoi Police

Activist Bui Thi Minh Hang (middle, with flowers) welcomed by other activists upon her release in February, 2017

By Defend the Defenders, November 02, 2017

On November 1, Hanoi police kidnapped and robbed former prisoner of conscience Bui Thi Minh Hang when the Vung Tau city-based activist visited her relatives in Son Tay district, the victim said.

At 2PM Wednesday, while Ms. Hang was staying in her cousin’s private residence on Hoang Dieu street, Son Tay district, two police officers came and said they wanted to conduct a regular administrative check. When Hang took her smartphone to film, a group of nearly ten people detained her and took her to a car and drove away.

The kidnappers took Hang to the headquarters of the Son Tay police department, where several police officers held her while a female officer conducted a body search. They took her smartphone and a wallet with VND3 million ($130).

Later, police took her to a room where she was interrogated by an officer who introduced himself as Trung from the Hanoi city’s Police Department. Trung couldn’t say the reason for her detention when Hang questioned him about their motives against her.

As Hang refused to answer their questions, they left her in the room until 8 PM. After that, they came back and asked her to sign in a working minute but Hang refused.

Finally, police took Hang back to her cousin’s house at 9 PM.

Police asked her to go to the Hanoi Police Department on November 2 to settle issues about the confiscation of her smartphone.

Hang said police are stationed at all the roads leading to her cousin’s private residence.

Ms. Hang, one of the leading figures in eleven consecutive anti-China protests in Hanoi in 2011 and other similar events in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in the following years, was arrested in early 2014 when she and other activists visited former political prisoner Nguyen Bac Truyen in the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap.

Security forces arrested her and two other religious activists, namely Nguyen Van Minh and Nguyen Thi Thuy Quynh, and charged them with “causing public disorder.” Following trials that failed to meet international fair trial standards, she was sentenced to three years in jail on bogus traffic offenses, while Quynh and Minh were given two year sentences each.

Hang, who is also a land rights activist, had been harassed by the Communist government in the past. She was detained many times after participating in peaceful anti-China protests in Hanoi and Saigon, and was sent to a re-habilitation facility by authorities in the capital city of Hanoi for months in an attempt to silence her.

Since her arrest, many legislators and officials from the U.S. and EU member countries, as well as international human rights bodies, have urged Vietnam to release her immediately and unconditionally. She is among 82 prisoners of conscience whom Amnesty International has called on Vietnam’s government to release.

During the imprisonment, she was inhumanely treated by prison wardens. In 2015, she conducted a long hunger strike to protest degrading treatment inflicted on her and other prisoners, especially prisoners of conscience, by the prison’s authorities.

While serving her term, Vietnam’s government offered her to live in exile in the U.S. However, she turned down the proposal, saying she would remain in the country to fight for the nation’s integrity and improved human rights.

Police are keeping close surveillance on her after she completed the sentence in mid-February this year.

Kidnap, robbery, and torture are common practices applied by Vietnam’s security forces against local political dissidents, human rights defenders, social activists, and online bloggers.