A young Vietnamese man detained after protesting last week over government plans to grant land concessions to foreign investors is being sought by police after granting an interview to RFA’s Vietnamese Service in which he said he was severely beaten while in custody.
Nguyen Minh Kha, 18, faces charges for obstructing and injuring officers and “damaging state assets” during protests in Binh Thuan province on June 10 and 11, and was cursed and beaten by police after being summoned to their office, Kha told RFA in an earlier report.
Quoted by state media on Thursday, police denied they had assaulted Kha and urged him to surrender to authorities to face the charges made against him, adding that a hospital X-ray certificate they were given shows no sign of Kha’s claimed injuries.
“Yesterday, local authorities came to our house, saying that my son is now on the run,” Kha’s mother told RFA in a phone interview on Thursday. “But I told them that he had only gone somewhere to the south for his injuries to heal.”
“After beating my son, they did not provide him with any medical treatment,” she said. “And now they are denying having beaten him at all.”
Speaking to RFA in an earlier report, Kha’s grandmother Huynh Thi Cut said that the police abuse of Kha, who admitted throwing stones at the police, began as soon as he entered their office.
“I went with him to the police station,” she said, adding that officers asked Kha about the protest as soon as he sat down, cursing him and striking him in the stomach and head.
The policeman carrying out the beating wore a mask, she said.
“Later, we went to the hospital near our home, but the doctors there are scared of the police and did not want to report that my grandson was injured,” she said.
“They said they would need to hear from the police before filing a report,” she said.
The Binh Thuan protest—one of several that rocked major cities including Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Nha Trang—saw demonstrators throw rocks and Molotov cocktails at police and set fire to official vehicles and buildings, with scores of protesters detained across the country.
The protests were launched amid fears that the 99-year special economic zone leases Vietnam plans to offer foreign investors will be snapped up by buyers from neighboring China, with which Vietnam has had tense bilateral relations in recent years—in part due to territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Richard Finney.