Human Rights Defender Trinh Ba Tu on Hunger Strike in Police Custody, Reason Unknown

Four HRDs from Duong Noi arrested on June 24, 2020

Defend the Defenders, August 25, 2020


The family of Hanoi-based human rights activist Trinh Ba Tu has informed the online community that he has been conducting a hunger strike twenty days ago while being held in the Cham Mat temporary detention center under the authority of the Hoa Binh province’s Police Department.

It seems that one staff of the detention facility had passed the information about his fasting to his family. However, the reason for Mr. Tu’s hunger strike remains unclear.

Tu, 31, was arrested on July 24 by the Hoa Binh province’s police and charged with “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 117 of Vietnam’s Criminal Code for his advocacy for land petitioners in Dong Tam commune. On the same day, his mother Can Thi Theu was also arrested by the Hoa Binh police while his older brother Trinh Ba Phuong was detained by the Hanoi police, and both were charged with the same allegation in the National Security provision of the code.

The mother and two sons have been held incommunicado for at least four months, the practice the Vietnamese security forces apply in most political cases.

For their works in documenting land seizures and mobilization for the returns of lands and fair compensation from Hanoi’s authorities as well as advocacy for human rights, the family of Mrs. Theu has been suffered from persecution for years.

Firstly, Mrs. Theu and her husband were arrested in April 2014 for recording video of land confiscations in Ha Đông district and police attacking protestors with sticks and batons. She was beaten by police and charged with “resisting on-duty state officials” under Article 257 of the Penal Code. In September of that year, Theu and her husband were sentenced to 15 months in prison each.

In 2016, Theu was arrested after participating in a peaceful demonstration in which participants demanded human rights and multi-party democracy. She was charged with “causing public disorder” and later sentenced to 20 months in prison.

On the day of welcoming his parents released from prison in late June, 2015, Tu and other family’s friends and activists were beaten by policemen and plainclothes agents near the Prison camp No. 6 in Thanh Chuong district, Nghe An province.

In recent years, due to their peaceful activities to assist land petitioners and support other activists as well as protest China’s violations of the country’s sovereignty in the East Sea (South China Sea), Phuong and Tu have been detained by police many times and in police stations, they were interrogated and tortured by police officers.

Meanwhile, Hanoi’s authorities have a plan to hold the first-instance hearing on September 7 to try 29 land petitioners in Dong Tam, who were arrested during the bloody attack of the police in the commune on January 9 this year. During the attack, police killed veteran community leader Le Dinh Kinh. Police said three police officers were killed during the attack and blamed the local land petitioners for killing them with gasoline although there is no clear evidence for the accusation. Police have also not shown the solid facts about the deaths of the three officers, including their corpses.