BANGKOK—A prominent minister and rights advocate in central Vietnam says his wife is in critical condition after a beating by police outside their home.
Nguyen Cong Chinh said he tried to intervene when police beat his
wife June 6 outside the family home in Hoa Lu commune, Pleiku, in
She was shouting about the disappearance of laundry hung outside to dry when police arrived and assaulted her, he said. Police struck him too, Chinh said, and later stopped him from taking his wife to the hospital.
Nobody hit her—he made that up."
Hoa Lu police officer
"My wife stood in front of the house and shouted, 'Who stole my stuff?'" Chinh said in a telephone interview June 11.
"She said police were here 24/7, so who could come and steal our stuff? Then some police from the PA-38 unit [for political and religious affairs], who stand guard outside my house, jumped in and beat my wife until she was hurt. When I tried to intervene, they beat me up too. Then another seven or eight police from the checkpoint joined them and beat my wife, kicked her, until she fainted."
"She’s confined to bed now, she cannot eat, she has vomited blood, and she is having difficulty breathing," he said. Asked why they were targeted, he said, "There are many reasons."
"First, they don’t want religion to develop among ethnic [minority] communities" in the Central Highlands region, he said. "I am a priest preaching the Gospel and the chairman of Vietnamese People’s Christian Evangelical Fellows."
"Second, I always speak out for the rights of repressed ethnic people."
Chinh, who was detained and interrogated as recently as May 14-26, said that 12 police stand guard outside his home at all times and that they set up a checkpoint nearby after his release from Gia Lai jail on May 26.
A police officer at Hoa Lu commune, Phan Ngoc Doan, contacted by telephone, denied the allegations.
"Nobody hit her—he made that up…Nobody set up a checkpoint at her house," Doan said. "I can’t talk about this now."
U.S. Representative Ed Royce raised Chinh’s case June 6 in a meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Michael Michalak and a Vietnamese community group in California.
Chinh has complained since 2003 of harassment by Gia Lai and Kontum provincial authorities—including confiscation of his mobile phone and motorcycle—as well as a ban on preaching in the Central Highlands.
Original reporting by Ha Giang and Viet Ha for RFA's Vietnamese service. Vietnamese service director: Diem Nguyen. Executive producer: Susan Lavery. Translation by Hanh Seide. Written in English by Sarah Jackson-Han.