Vietnam Human Rights Defenders’ Weekly Report for September 2-8, 2019: Convicted Pro-democracy Activist Nguyen Ngoc Anh Threatened with Death
Defend the Defenders | September 8, 2019
Authorities in the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre have mentally tortured pro-democracy activist Nguyen Ngoc Anh, using criminal inmates to beat him and threaten to kill him while he is waiting for his appeal in the temporary detention center under the authority of the province’s Police Department.
Their moves aim to prevent him from appealing the decision of the People’s Court of Ben Tre province in the first-instance hearing on June 24, 2019 in which he was given six years in prison and five years of probation for the allegation of “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 117 of the country’s Penal Code. They are trying to isolate him by punishing those inmates having talked with him and one was forced to commit suicide while another was beaten severely that he hardly eat.
Meanwhile, female activist Doan Thi Hong from the unregistered group Hien Phap (Constitution) is under great pressure while being held in pre-trial detention in Ho Chi Minh City’s Temporary detention facitity. Police have asked her to deny a lawyer hired for her by her family, said her older sister after meeting her for the second time on September 4 since her detention in early September 2018. She is among seven members of the group detained in early September last year on allegation of “disrupting security” under Article 118 with imprisonment of between seven and 15 years in prison if are convicted. Others are Ngo Van Dung, Ho Van Cuong, Tran Thi Ngoc Hanh, Hoang Thi Thu Vang, Do The Hoa and Tran Thanh Phuong.
Regarding single mother Hong, Amnesty International have called on local residents and international community to send mails to President Nguyen Phu Trong to request for her immediate and unconditional release, and provide proper medical services for her before freeing her.
Convicted of subversion Huynh Duc Thanh Binh and Tran Long Phi have denied their right to appeal their sentences given by the People’s Court of Ho Chi Minh City on June 24, saying their appeals would be useless since Vietnam has no fair trials which meet international standards for fair trials. Two other convicted Vietnamese American Michael Minh Phuong Nguyen and Huynh Duc Thinh have filled their appeals.
Mrs. Pham Ngoc Hanh and Mr. Tran Nguyen Duy Quang were released on September 8 after 15 months in prison for their participation in the peaceful demonstration in Bien Hoa city on June 10, 2018 which aimed to protest two bills on Special Economic Zones and Cyber Security. Other 13 convicted of “causing public disorders” in the same case were freed in early June.
According to Defend the Defenders’ statistics, Vietnam is holding 238 prisoners of conscience right now.
===== September 4 =====
Jailed Female Activist Suffers Many Diseases, Allowed to Meet With Her 3-year-old Daughter For First Time One Year After Being Detained
Defend the Defenders: Female pro-democracy activist Doan Thi Hong, who is in pre-detention on allegation of “disruption of security” in Ho Chi Minh City, is suffering from a number of serious diseases, including vestibular disorders, digestive disorders, dermatological diseases, and amblyopia, said her older sister.
Ms. Doan Kim Khanh said her younger sister looks very tired and weak during their second meeting on September 2, more than one year from her detention in September 2018. in the temporary detention facility under the authority of the Police Department in Ho Chi Minh City.
Hong, 36, was permitted to meet with her 3-year-old daughter on September 4, the first meeting since her detention by security forces in Ho Chi Minh on September 2 last year.
Hong is a member of the unregistered group Hien Phap which works to promote civil rights by disseminating the country’s Constitution 2013 among citizens. She was kidnapped by security forces and later was charged with “disruption of security” under Article 118 of the 2015 Penal Code.
During their meeting, Hong told her sister that the investigation is nearly completed. She is likely under pressure of the police from HCM City who demand her not to have her own lawyer in her trial which may be held in coming months, said Ms. Khanh.
Khanh said she has already hired a lawyer for her sister but police in HCM City have yet to allow the lawyer to meet her in the temporary detention facility in Phan Dang Luu street where Hong has been held since September last year.
Other members of the Hien Phap group who were also detained by the police in HCM City last September were also allowed to meet with their families for the first time this week.
One year ago, security forces in HCM City detained other members of the Hien Phap group named Mr. Tran Thanh Phuong, Mr. Ngo Van Dung, Mr. Ho Dinh Cuong, Ms. Tran Thi Ngoc Hanh, Ms. Hoang Thi Thu Vang, and Mr. Do The Hoa. Like Hong, four of them were charged with “disruption of security” while the charges against Hoa and Phuong remain unknown.
Their detentions were made as the police forces were on alert of mass demonstrations on the occasion of the country’s Independence Day (September 2). The group’s members were very active in the demonstrations in HCM City on June 10, 2018 in which tens of thousands of people from different social groups marched streets to protest two bills on Special Economic Zones and Cyber Security. The first one seems to favor Chinese investors while the second aims to silence online government critics.
Vietnam’s communist regime is still holding 29 activists in pre-detention on various charges in national security provisions and “causing public disorders” of the Penal Code for their peaceful activities to promote civil, political and human rights or against systemic corruption as well as China’s violations of the country’s sovereignty in the East Sea (South China Sea).
According to Defend the Defenders’ statistics, Vietnam is holding 242 prisoners of conscience, including 19 activists detained this year. In addition, blogger Le Anh Hung is held in Hanoi-based Central Mental Hospital No. 1 after many months in pre-detention for the allegation of “abusing democratic freedom” for his online posts about several senior communist officials.
===== September 6 =====
Jailed Pro-democracy Activist Nguyen Ngoc Anh Threatened with Death While Waiting for Appeal
Defend the Defenders: Jailed pro-democracy activist Nguyen Ngoc Anh, who was convicted of “conducting anti-state propaganda” in June, is under death threat while being held in a temporary detention center under the Police Department of Ben Tre province, his wife has informed Defend the Defenders.
During a regular meeting with his wife Chau on September 6, Mr. Anh told her that the prison’s authorities are using criminals to beat him and threaten to kill him.
He is under continuous physical and mental torture of several inmates with whom police officers have promised to grant amnesty or reduce their sentences for their dirty works, Chau said, adding the prison’s guards take no serious actions to halt the torture against him.
The prison’s authorities are trying to isolate Anh, not allowing other inmates to contact with him, she noted. Police officers confiscated his items and still hold them although he has filled petitions demanding them to return.
Anh told his wife that he may be killed every moment so she should be ready for that. He also said there is serious maltreatment against other individuals, including constant interrogation. One taken to the facility on August 19 committed suicide after being continuously questioned for several days while another was beaten so badly that he hardly eats and the physical and mental torture against them were were acts of revenge for their sympathy to Anh or contact with him.
Anh told his wife that he has appealed the sentence given by the People’s Court of Ben Tre province in the trial on June 6 in which he was sentenced to six years in prison and five years of probation. He had no lawyer in the first-instance hearing and Chau has hired a lawyer for him for the appeal hearing, however, his lawyer has not been allowed to meet with him for preparing his defense.
Anh said he would request to stop the appeal hearing if they don’t permit him to contact with his attorney.
Mr. Anh, a 39-year-old shrimp grower in the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre, was arrested on August 30, 2018 for his posts on his Facebook account Nguyễn Ngọc Ánh in which he speaks out about human rights violations, systemic environmental pollution, bad economic management of Vietnam’s communist government, China’s violations of the country’s sovereignty in the East Sea (South China Sea) and Vietnam’s weak response.
He is listed as one of 128 prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International and a political prisoner by Human Rights Watch.
Due to the inhumane treatment of Ben Tre province’s police, he is suffering from a number of diseases, including sinusitis and bone soreness. Police ignored his request for medical treatment and not allowed his wife to send medicines for him.
===== September 7 =====
PoCs Huynh Duc Thanh Binh, Tran Long Phi Deny Their Right to Appeal
Defend the Defenders: Two prisoners of conscience Huynh Duc Thanh Binh and Tran Long Phi who were convicted of subversion have denied their right to appeal the decisions of the People’s Court of Ho Chi Minh City on their trial on June 24, according to their families.
Speaking with Defend the Defenders, Ms. Hue, the mother of Mr. Binh, said their denial was made based on their judgement that there are no fair trials in Vietnam as the ruling communists control all three branches legislation, governing and justice. They said all the courts have failed to meet international standards for fair trial so it is worthless for them to appeal.
Both Binh and Phi were transferred to Bo La Prison camp in Binh Duong province on July 23 and they are expected to be taken to other prison camps in coming weeks.
Meanwhile, Vietnamese American Michael Minh Phuong Nguyen and Binh’s father Mr. Huynh Duc Thinh have filled their appeals.
Mr. Nguyen, Binh and Long were kidnapped on July 7, 2018 by security forces in HCM City after returning from a journey in the central region. They were later charged with “conducting attempts to overthrow the government” under Article 109 of the Penal Code. Mr. Thinh was detained one day later for the allegation of misprision under Clause 1 of Article 390 of the same code.
In their first-instance hearing which lasted in few hours on June 24 this year, Mr. Nguyen was sentenced to 12 years in prison followed by deportation to the US while Binh, Phi and Thinh were given ten, eight and one year in prison, respectively.
Binh and Phi actively participated in the mass demonstration in HCM City on June 10 last year in which tens of thousands of people from different social groups rallied across the nation to protest two bills on Special Economic Zones and Cyber Security, the first one seems to favor Chinese investors and ignore the country’s sovereignty while the latter aims to silence online government critics. Mr. Nguyen returned from the US in late June 2018.
All of them are listed as prisoners of conscience by Defend the Defenders.
===== September 8 =====
Two Peaceful Protesters in Dong Nai Complete Their Sentences
Defend the Defenders: Two peaceful protesters Mrs. Pham Ngoc Hanh and Mr. Tran Nguyen Duy Quang from Bien Hoa City, Dong Nai province completed their sentences and returned home on September 8 after 15 months spending in prison for the allegation of “causing public disorders” due to their participation in the peaceful demonstration on June 10, 2018.
They were among 20 protesters detained by Bien Hoa police during the street demonstration which aimed to protest two bills on Special Economic Zones and Cyber Security. In their trial on July 30, 2018, Mrs. Hanh was sentenced to 16 months in prison and Mr. Quang was given to 18 months while 13 others were sentenced to between eight and 12 months in prison.
Their sentences were upheld by the People’s Court of Dong Nai several months later.
All of 15 convicted peaceful protesters in Bien Hoa were released, a local activist confirmed.
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