Family of Prisoner of Conscience Nguyen Trung Ton Harassed When US Ambassador Visits Locality


Defend the Defenders, June 30, 2020


Authorities in Vietnam’s central province of Thanh Hoa have harassed the family of prisoner of conscience Nguyen Trung Ton, who is serving his 12-year imprisonment when the US Ambassador visited the locality, Defend the Defenders has learned.

Mrs. Nguyen Thi Lanh told Defend the Defenders that on June 26, the local police came to her private house to request her family members not go out in the next five days from June 27 until June 30 in all circumstances, including exercise or shopping. They also said they will keep close monitoring during the period without explaining the reasons.

One of district police officers named Nhon threatened that they will not take responsibility if the family members go out and hit by some other.

Lanh said she found it difficult to follow their instruction because she works as a grocery seller in a local wet market to feed for her family which includes the elderly mother-in-law and two children, one of them is disabled.

On the evening of June 28, they came again and requested the family not to go out in the next two days, Monday and Tuesday, Lanh said.

She said that due to the request, her son could not go to Hanoi for an interview for a new job which was scheduled on June 30.

On the morning of Tuesday, Lanh decided to go to the local market but she found that they locked her gate from outside. She and her son Nguyen Trong Nghia had to cut the lock.

When Mrs. Lanh was selling groceries in the local wet market, a client intentionally quarreled with her, accusing her of selling substandard goods. She knew it was a trick and offered to return the money and take back her goods from the client but he did not agree but want to take her to the local communal authorities.

Being informed by the trouble for his mother, Nghia left his house to the communal headquarters. However, he was stopped in the middle of his way by uniformed police and plainclothes agents who beat him brutally until he collapsed on the road. The attack was made but police officers did not intervene.  Later, they took him to a communal clinic for treatment of injuries caused by the assault.

Later Lanh learned that her family was under harassment because the US Ambassador visited Quang Xuong district and the local authorities want to prevent her family from meeting him to report her family’s situation.

Since the arrest of Mr. Ton, president of the unregistered Brotherhood for Democracy in July 2017, the local authorities have constantly harassed and intimidated his wife. His son Nghia has also been under the persecution of the local security forces after returning to the country from the Philippines where he participated in a training course provided by VOICE for young social activists. Due to their harassment, he cannot find a job to support his mother and younger sisters.

Ton, who was brutally beaten by plainclothes agents in April 2017 before being arrested. One of his legs is still affected by the attack but he has received no assistance from the police for treatment of the injury.

His wife has to supply him with medicines for the injury but sometimes, the prison authorities have suspended the family’s supply.