Hanoi-based Activist Kidnapped, Other Threatened with Arrest for Helping Dong Tam Land Petitioners

Hanoi-based activist Nguyen Thuy Hanh


Defend the Defenders, January 21, 2020


Police officers from Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security have kidnapped Hanoi-based activist Nguyen Thuy Hanh for interrogation for hours about their assistance given to land petitioners in Dong Tam commune, My Duc district.

On the afternoon of January 20, Mrs. Hanh and her husband Huynh Ngoc Chenh went to the Vietnam Bank for Commerce (Vietcombank)’s branch in Ba Dinh district to question the bank for freezing her account with around VND528 million ($22,500) of donations for the family of Mr. Le Dinh Kinh, a 84-year-old resident of Dong Tam who was killed by police during the raid on January 9.

During a meeting with the bank’s representatives, Mr. Chenh recognized that plainclothes policemen were deployed in the office, probably the bank branch informed police for the presence of the couple.

After receiving unsatisfied answers from the bank’s representatives, the couple left the office to return home with their motorbike. Not far from the bank, they were stopped by police officers in plainclothes who said Hanh must to go with them to their office for “working.” Hanh was forced to go in their car and the vehicle went to the Security Investigation Agency under the Ministry of Public Security at Nguyen Gia Thieu street, Hanoi where many activists were interrogated and beaten.

During the three-hour interrogation, five police officers questioned about the 50K Fund she established last year for assisting prisoners of conscience and activist-at-risks, and the donations from Vietnamese in the country and abroad for Mr. Kinh’s family after the bloody police raid on January 9.

During the interrogation, police officers said they would arrest some other activists, including land petitioner and human rights defender Trinh Ba Phuong for his covering news on the brutal police attack in Dong Tam on January 9, Hanh said.

The abduction and the interrogation against Mrs. Hanh were made few days after her account in Vietcombank was suspended. On January 13, the Ministry of Public Security said on its website that the ministry had ordered local banks to freeze accounts of some activists, including Mrs. Hanh who have been receiving donations for persecuted Dong Tam residents. The ministry said the financial aids from people can help Dong Tam citizens purchase weaponry to deal with the government.

Meanwhile, Vietnamese activists continue to call for a boycott of Vietcombank’s service and ask the Japanese Mizuho to reconsider its investment in the Vietnamese bank. Currently, the Japanese side owns 15% stake in Vietcombank.