An activist in Vietnam who has spoken out extensively against Chinese aggression in the South China Sea was brutally beaten by thugs in the capital Hanoi on Monday, in the latest attack against public campaigners in the one-party communist nation, where dissent is not tolerated.
Activist Nguyen Chi Tuyen, who has participated in several anti-China rallies expressing anger over Beijing’s claims to the disputed Paracel islands, told RFA’s Vietnamese Service he was attacked in the morning after driving his son to elementary school around three kilometers (two miles) from his home.
“On the way home, along the road I usually take, a group of thugs stopped me from both in front and behind [my vehicle] and they beat me,” Tuyen said.
“I couldn’t see what they were using to strike me, but I am sure that they didn’t only use their hands and feet. They struck me about my head and face.”
Tuyen said he received first aid at a medical center near his home, but his friends decided to take him to the French-Vietnamese Hospital, where he was given a CT scan to determine whether he had suffered a brain injury.
“The doctors there told me that I was lucky because my brain was not damaged; only the soft parts were injured. My forehead, eyes, cheeks, nose and ears are swollen. I was given six stitches on my head. Those were the main injuries,” he said.
“The doctors allowed me to go home and said that if I experienced any abnormal symptoms in the next 24 hours, I should be hospitalized; if not, I should just take a prescription they gave me.”
Tuyen, who has also campaigned to commemorate Vietnamese soldiers who died during Vietnam’s brief border war with China in 1979 and to promote environmental causes such as recycling, is the latest outspoken activist to be beaten by thugs on a Hanoi street in weeks.
At the end of April, prominent blogger Trinh Anh Tuan was savagely attacked with bricks by a trio of plainclothes policemen he said were among a group of men who have been observing his home for the past month.
Tuan, who operates a website calling for transparency from local officials with regards to a controversial tree removal plan in the city, said he had been harassed by plainclothes authorities before in March 2014, though “the injuries were not as severe as this time.”
He was also among 50 people detained and beaten by police on May 15 last year after taking part in an anti-China protest sparked by territorial tensions in the South China Sea.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Gia Minh. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.