A group of Vietnamese dissidents and their families detailed on Thursday their harrowing experience when police broke up a dinner party at a blogger’s house, violently beat them, and dragged them away on the ground in pouring rain.
All eight of them have been released following the raid on blogger Nguyen Tuong Thuy’s house on Wednesday night but have yet to recover from the shocking experience, accusing the police of brutality and abusing their legal authority.
“They broke the door and entered the house without any notice or papers for legal order,” Nguyen Thi Nhung, the mother of activist Nguyen Phuong Uyen, told RFA’s Vietnamese Service.
“They went upstairs where we were and held our hair and pushed us against the wall violently. It was very cruel.”
“It was raining very hard but they threw us on the ground and dragged us to the car,” Nhung said. "We were all soaked, without shoes. It was like an abduction.”
Uyen, a 21-year-old student activist who was released earlier this year after her sentence for spreading “anti-state propaganda” was reversed, has gotten a fever after beatings that made her nose bleed and left her face swollen, her mother said.
The group had gathered at Thuy’s house to have a farewell dinner for Uyen and her mother, who were about to fly back to their home in southern Vietnam’s Long An province following a visit to Hanoi.
Also herded away to the police station in Hanoi’s Thanh Tri district were Thuy’s wife and daughter as well as Duong Thi Tan - the ex-wife of jailed popular blogger Nguyen Van Hai - and Le Quoc Quyet, the brother of prominent rights lawyer Le Quoc Quan, who is set to stand trial next week on tax evasion charges.
Police took Nhung and daughter Uyen to the airport and forced them on a plane home late Wednesday night.
Nhung said police dragged them across the floor and assaulted them. “Her feet are still bleeding,” she said of Uyen.
Tan said she went to the airport with a small group of people to try to see the pair off, but police and plainclothesmen forcibly stopped her from meeting them.
"[The police] pushed me down on the floor. I don’t know what they used but after that I saw my hand bleeding profusely, my body ached,” she said.
“When I got home, I checked and saw many bruises. I don’t know how they did it but I know policemen were trained very well to beat people,” she said.
Le Quoc Quyet injured
Quyet was also beaten harshly in the raid.
“They kicked him on both sides of his torso,” his mother Nguyen Thi Tram told RFA, saying she was caring for his injuries and she was concerned he was severely injured.
“I’m worried that he might have some internal injuries,” she said.
Quyet has been campaigning for the release of his brother, an outspoken blogger actively involved in a string of anti-China demonstrations last year over Beijing's territorial claims in the South China Sea.
“I saw [police] grabbing his [Quyet’s] neck and throwing him out,” said Tan, who was also not spared beatings. “I saw them kicking him…. They kicked him in the face a lot,” she said.
“I was in terrible pain myself and could not think much.”
Activists said they were given no legal reason for the raid and police carried no papers for the detention.
Thuy said the raid on his house was unwarranted and that only a few of those who carried it out were police in uniform while most were in plainclothes.
“According to the law, officers on duty have to wear uniforms and name badges and have to show their papers to prove they are from the government and what agency they come from,” he told RFA.
“It was wrong. Even a child would know that.”
The blogger, who has written critically of the government and been interrogated by police six times, said the incident was not the first time he had faced harassment from local authorities.
“Now this time they came to destroy my house,” he said.
Hanoi police director Nguyen Duc Chung refused to comment when contacted by RFA on Thursday.
The Thanh Tri district police chief could not be reached.
Police surveillance and harassment is a common experience for dissident bloggers and dissidents in Vietnam, where dozens have been jailed for speaking out online since the one-party communist state stepped up a crackdown three years ago.
Reported by An Nguyen for RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Rachel Vandenbrink.