Vietnam police summon political prisoners’ wives

Rights advocates say it marks the start of a new harassment campaign by the government.
By RFA Vietnamese
2024.03.13
Vietnam police summon political prisoners’ wives Political prisoner Bui Van Thuan and the police letter calling his wife in for questioning.
Facebook/RFA

Vietnam police have been summoning the wives of political prisoners for questioning over the past week, leading one lawyer to suggest that the Ministry of Public Security has launched a new harassment campaign against relatives of prisoners of conscience.

According to information obtained by Radio Free Asia, police summoned the wives of four prisoners this week: Trinh Thi Nhung, wife of Bui Van Thuan; Le Thi Ha, wife of Dang Dang Phuoc; Do Thi Thu, wife of Trinh Ba Phuong; and Nguyen Thi Tinh, wife of Nguyen Nang Tinh. 

The women were questioned about their social media activities.

They also summoned Nguyen Thi Mai, daughter of female prisoner Nguyen Thi Tam.

The five prisoners are serving sentences of between five and 10 years, all for the crime of “propaganda against the state.”

On Tuesday, police also summoned Le Thi Kieu Oanh, wife of former prisoner Pham Minh Hoang, following her trip to France to see her husband.

In 2017, Hoang was stripped of his Vietnamese citizenship and deported after serving a 17-month prison sentence for “activities aimed at overthrowing the government.”

Questioned about Facebook

Trinh Thi Nhung was summoned for questioning by the Nghi Son Town Police in Thanh Hoa province on Wednesday morning.

They said they believed she had used the Facebook account “Nhung Trinh” to sign a petition calling for the release of human rights activist Nguyen Thuy Hanh, who has cancer and is being held in a secure mental facility.

Nhung told the police the account was not hers and refused to sign a statement.

Do Thi Thu was asked to visit Ha Dong District Police in Hanoi on Thursday, also in connection with Facebook but she refused.

“I’m not going to meet them there because they've invited me so many times about the same thing,” she said.

“The investigator asked me if the [Thu Do] Facebook account was mine.

“They told me not to share articles related to prisoners of conscience.”

Le Thi Ha was summoned by the Internal Security Department of Dak Lak Provincial Police.

They asked her to come in on Thursday to provide information about her use of social media. She told RFA she would attend even though she doesn’t have a Facebook account.

“I find it annoying,” she told RFA Vietnamese. “It affects my job because I work all day at school and have no time to rest.”

Human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Miem wrote on Facebook, "There seems to be a campaign to harass the wives of prisoners of conscience."

Josef Benedict, Asia Pacific civil space advocacy expert for rights group CIVICUS also criticized Vietnam for harassing families of political prisoners.

"The Vietnamese government must halt the shameful and vindictive campaign of harassment against the wives of political prisoners for their social media posts,” he said.

“Prisoners’ families should not be targeted simply because they seek justice for their loved ones . 

Instead they should be able to exercise their basic right to freedom of expression peacefully without fear of reprisal.”

According to Amnesty International, Vietnam currently has more than 250 political prisoners.

Hanoi always claims it has no political prisoners, only those convicted of crimes.

Translated by RFA Vietnamese. Edited by Mike Firn and Taejun Kang.

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