Wife of Detained Vietnamese Activist Trinh Ba Phuong Refuses Police Summons

dong-tam-trinh.jpg Four activists, three of whom are related, were arrested June 24, 2020 for discussing January's violent Dong Tam protests on Facebook. From left to right: Trinh Ba Tu, his mother Can Thi Theu, his brother Trinh Ba Phuong and Nguyen Thi Tam, who was arrested on the same charge.

The wife of a Vietnamese activist is refusing to comply with a police summons to discuss the case of her husband, Trinh Ba Phuong, one of three detained members of the Trinh family who are awaiting trial over a deadly land rights clash outside Hanoi, her father-in-law told RFA Monday.

Trinh Ba Phuong’s wife, Do Thi Thu, gave birth to their child around the time of his June 24 arrest along with his brother, Trinh Ba Tu, and mother, Can Thi Theu, for spreading information critical of a police raid early this year to quash a long-running dispute over a military airport construction site at Dong Tam.

Police arrived at Do’s house in Hanoi’s Duong Noi district on Sunday to deliver the summons.

“The communist police yesterday summoned my daughter-in-law again, but she said she would not to go to police station. She refused to receive the summons, no matter what the communists want her to do,” Do’s father in law Trinh Ba Khiem told RFA’s Vietnamese Service.

“I think they want to investigate Trinh Ba Phuong’s case. My daughter-in-law just gave birth two months ago around when her husband was arrested, that’s why she decided not to go to police station,” he said.

Do’s interaction with the police Sunday was livestreamed on her Facebook account. The video showed police officers in plainclothes delivering the summons, which Do refused to sign for. She also told them she would not appear at the local police station on Sept. 3 as requested.

The three detained members of the Trinh family had been outspoken in social media postings about the Jan. 9 Dong Tam clash, in which 3,000 police stormed barricaded protesters’ homes at a construction site about 25 miles south of the capital, killing a village elder. Three police officers died in the battle.

The Trinhs openly offered information to foreign embassies and other international figures to try to raise awareness of the incident.

Bureaucratic runaround

Trinh Ba Khiem also told RFA Monday that he encountered yet another stumbling block in his attempt to visit his other detained son, Trinh Ba Tu, after the family was told he had begun a hunger strike in early August.

RFA previously reported that the Trinh family patriarch had attempted to meet his younger son at the Cham Mat detention center in Hoa Binh province where he and his mother are being held.

Joined by an entourage of residents from Hanoi’s Duong Noi district, Trinh was last week turned away by camp police who threatened that they would be beaten by gangsters.

The group later visited the Ministry of Public Security in Hanoi, who told them to submit a letter to the police in Hoa Binh province to request an “indirect meeting” with his son, where they would be able to see each other through a glass window but would not be able to talk.

Trinh Ba Khiem told RFA Monday that the letter alone was not enough.

“This morning around 10 a.m. I and several residents of Duong Noi district arrived at the Hoa Binh province police department. Two residents and I met with an officer named Dinh Le Hoa, who requested an official testimony from the police at the local commune station confirming that [I] and Trinh Ba Tu are in a father-son relationship,” he said.

“I went back home and then to the commune police, but they did not confirm [our relationship] so my letter was not sent to the detention camp and I could not meet with my son,” he added.

The reason for Trinh Ba Tu’s hunger strike remains unclear. RFA first learned of the strike last week from Trinh Ba Tu’s sister Trinh Thi Thao, who said that an unknown person had told her that her brother had stopped eating.

RFA attempted to confirm the hunger strike with the detention camp, but officers there said they were not at liberty to provide information. The detention camp’s commissary records show that Trinh and his mother stopped buying food on Aug. 6.

In an earlier flare up of the Dong Tam dispute that goes back to 1980, farmers detained 38 police officers and local officials during a weeklong standoff in April 2017. Three months later, the Hanoi Inspectorate rejected the farmer’s claims that 47 hectares (116 acres) of their farmland was seized for the military-run Viettel Group—Vietnam’s largest mobile phone operator—without adequate compensation.

While all land in Vietnam is ultimately held by the state, land confiscations have become a flashpoint as residents accuse the government of pushing small landholders aside in favor of lucrative real estate projects, and of paying too little in compensation.

International organizations have voiced concern about the Dong Tam case, calling on the Vietnamese government to hold an independent and transparent investigation.

Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Huy Le. Written in English by Eugene Whong.


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.