Government Loyalists in HCM City Brutally Assault Activist Le My Hanh in Second Attack Against Her within One Month

Environmentalist Le My Hanh after being assaulted by government loyalists in HCMC on May 2, 2017

By Defend the Defenders, May 02, 2017

On May 2, in Ho Chi Minh City, a group of ten government loyalists brutally attacked Le My Hanh, a female environmental activist from Hanoi for her activities, which aim to promote multi-party democracy, human rights and environmental protection.

Ms. Hanh said that the attackers, including women, broke in as she stayed at her friend’s private residence in Vietnam’s biggest economic hub. They sprayed tear gas at the two women and beat them.

After causing severe injuries to Ms. Hanh and her friend, the group left. Later, they posted a video clip of the attack on their Facebook accounts.

Hanh reported that she received online warnings from government loyalists who threatened to assault her when she was due to arrive in the city.

This is the second attack of government loyalists against Ms. Hanh within a month. On April 5, she and blogger Trinh Dinh Hoa were brutally beaten by Hanoi-based government loyalists in Ho Tay (West Lake) as they were broadcasting a live stream on Facebook about the environmental disaster caused by the Taiwanese Formosa steel plant in the central coastal region in April 2016.

According to the video posted on their Facebook accounts, as Ms. Hanh and Mr. Hoa were conducting the live stream in Ho Tay to report about the current situation in the central region, a group of six thugs appeared behind them, attacking Ms. Hanh and robbing her of the cell phone with which she was filming herself. Throwing her cell phone into the lake, the thugs turned to beat Hanh and Mr. Hoa, who stood near her.

Due to the assault, Hanh and Hoa sustained a number of injuries. She recognized one of the attackers as a member of a pro-government group in Hanoi that has received support from the local authorities to disturb patriotic and pro-democracy activities organized by local activists. In 2015, the same group persecuted the family of activist Nguyen Lan Thang.

Ms. Hanh is a citizen journalist who has actively reported peaceful demonstrations by central coast residents who seek compensation for the environmental consequences of a toxic waste discharge by the Taiwanese Formosa steel plant in the central coastal waters and request the Taiwanese group to leave Vietnam.

Hanh is among the many activists who have been assaulted by plainclothes agents and pro-government individuals in the past few years.

Among the victims are human rights lawyers Nguyen Van Dai and Nguyen Bac Truyen, prominent human rights activists Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh (Me Nam), Nguyen Trung Ton, Pham Thanh Nghien, and Vu Quoc Ngu, and anti-China activists La Viet Dung and Truong Minh Tam.

In order to silence local critics, Vietnam’s communist government has taken a number of measures, including intimidation, harassment, physical assaults, and arbitrary arrests and detention against them. It has also supported government loyalists who are responsible for a number of attacks against local activists.

For the previous attack against Ms. Hanh: