Prominent Vietnamese blogger Pham Doan Trang is struggling to regain her health and faces constant police harassment after she suffered a beating on Aug. 15 when a concert she was attending was broken up by police in Ho Chi Minh City, her editor told RFA’s Vietnamese Service on Thursday.
Trang was among at least four activists who were attacked after policemen stormed into a cafe and broke up dissident singer Nguyen Tin’s “Memory of Saigon” show. She was then taken by police to an unknown road outside the city and “beaten further to the point of disfiguring her face,” a fellow activist said last week.Singer Tin was also roughed up.
“The doctors said that her health needs to be monitored closely because at the moment it is hard to know exactly when she will fully recover,” Trinh Huu Long, editor in chief of Luat Khoa magazine, where Trang works as an editor, told RFA,
“There are doctors who monitor her case but Trang has to move constantly to avoid police. This creates more difficulties for her,” he said.
“Police follow her wherever she goes. They ask neighbors about her, and pressure them and visitors. This hinders her access to medical care when needed,” added Long.
Trang, author of book on political engagement titled Politics for Everyone that angered Vietnamese authorities, earlier this year won the Homo Homini Award from People in Need, an international human rights organization based in the Czech Republic.
The New York-based watchdog group Human Rights Watch said the during the Aug. 15 attacks, Trang suffered multiple bruises, nausea, and dizziness and was later diagnosed with a concussion. Friends who tried to visit her in the hospital were harassed and beaten, the rights group said.
“This pattern of brutal physical assaults carried out by shadowy thugs, in apparent coordination with the police, is an intensification of the government’s persecution of political activists,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, Robertson.
“By failing to investigate or hold accountable those committing these thuggish acts, the authorities are signaling that attacks against dissidents will enjoy impunity.”
Trang’s editor Long echoed Robertson about the growing pressure from police on dissenters in Vietnam.
“Harassment and attacks on activists have become more frequent,” he said. “This is an indication that the government will utilize any measure to gag dissidents.”
Meanwhile, in Nghe An province, Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, 52, was on the 10th day a hunger strike to protest police pressure on him to plead guilty in exchange for amnesty.
He was jailed in 2010 for 16 years for writing online articles criticizing the government under Article 79 of Vietnam’s penal code and is serving at Prison No. 6 in Nghe An province.
“We have called the prison several times but there was no answer. Our only choice now is to wait for him to call us, because we can’t go visit him until next month and the prison’s authorities won’t give us any information about him,” Thuc’s brother, Tranh Huynh Duy Tan, told RFA.
“We are still working with his lawyer to prepare petitions for him. We demand that the government respect rule of law and apply new a penal code, which is considered more favorable in his case so he can be released soon,” added the brother.
The rights group Amnesty International estimates that at least 97 prisoners of conscience are currently held in Vietnam’s prisons, where many are subjected to torture or other ill-treatment.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Paul Eckert.