HCM City Police Stop Live Show of Dissident Singer, Detaining and Beating Many Activists

Dissident singer Nguyen Tin after being questioned and beaten by police in HCM City on Aug 15


Defend the Defenders, August 16, 2018


In the evening of August 15, police in Ho Chi Minh City stopped a live show of dissident singer Nguyen Tin, detaining many activists and beating them brutally at the scene and in custody before releasing them.

Among the detained and beaten activists were prominent dissident blogger Pham Doan Trang, activist Dinh Nhat Uy, blogger Tran Phuong and Tran Dai, Ms. Diem Hang and Ms. Thuong Huyen and the singer. Police confiscated the IDs of many detainees before releasing them.

Nguyen Tin, who is famous among Vietnamese dissidents for his patriotic songs and charity activities, held his first-ever live show in a music bar namely Cafe Casanova in 61 C Tu Xuong, Ward 7, District 3 with participation of many local activists and ordinary clients. The live show was publicized on social networks.

The the show started at 8.30 PM on Wednesday. Local authorities deployed large numbers of police, militia, and thugs to block the area near the cafeteria.

According to female activist Vo Hong Ly, police stumped in the cafeteria at 9 PM to film the event. Their behavior was very aggressive, she said.

Feeling the police intervention may not be good for the audience, which included many children and elderly, the MC of the show asked the police to act peacefully.

After requesting the cafeteria owner to show his license and stop the show, police requested the participants to show their IDs. Well-known activists were ordered not to leave the cafeteria, Ms. Hong Ly said.

At 9.45, police started their brutality. Firstly, they approached Doan Trang to ask her not to film their aggressive acts. They knocked her down and detained her. Tran Phuong was also beaten and detained after recording police’s attacks against Doan Trang with his cell phone.

Many activists were beaten while trying to protect Doan Trang and others, Ly said, adding Diem Hang were beaten on her head while Ms. Thuong Huyen was assaulted on her left eye.

Police requested most of the audience leave the cafeteria but kept singer Nguyen Tin, blogger Nguyen Dai and many others police think they are organizers of the live show.

Plainclothes agents and militia were very aggressive and ready to beat anyone, including female, Ly said.

Police took Doan Trang to the police station in Ward 7 for interrogation. During questioning, she was beaten by police officers. At the end of the interrogation, police brought a man in medical clothes to examine her health. Doan Trang suspected that he is not a medical worker since he failed to prove his medical capacity. The man concluded that she suffered light injuries.

Police confiscated her ID, laptop, ATM card, and wallet with several hundreds of thousands of dong. Police took her in a taxi. Later, they asked her to get out of the car, and continued to beat her, using a motorbike helmet to attack her on her head before leaving. Trang suffered severe injuries from the second assault.

Before leaving the scene, police requested her to come to the police station on Thursday to get back her items.

On August 16, Doan Trang was hospitalized after continuously vomiting. The medical check-up showed that she suffered from brain injuries.

Police also beat and detained singer Nguyen Tin and Nguyen Dai at the cafeteria. Later, they confiscated their ID and dragged them into a car to drive to a rubber plantation in Tan An Hoi commune in Cu Chi district, around 60 km from the scene.

This is the second police assault against singer Nguyen Tin within two months. In mid-June, he was detained at his house and held in a police station for several days due to his participation in the mass demonstration against the Special Economic Zones and Cyber Security bills, in which hundreds of peaceful demonstrators were detained and tortured. During interrogation, Nguyen Tin was beaten and mistreated by police officers.

In order to prevent the formation of opposition parties, Vietnam’s security forces are willing to use forces to intervene in meetings of activists, including gatherings for cultural purposes. Dissident singer Do Nguyen Mai Khoi’s shows have been closely monitored and stopped on several occasions.