Vietnamese police beat and detained two activists on Sunday in the town of Dinh Van as they traveled from Ho Chi Minh City to their homes in a village in a Central Highlands province in the latest incident of harassment against defenders of human rights.
One of the two men, Tran Minh Nhat, told RFA’s Vietnamese Service that more than 10 policemen stopped his car around 6 a.m., forced him to get out, beat him and took him to the local police station.
They also took Chu Manh Son, who was with Nhat, to the police station as the pair was heading to their homes in Da Don village, Lam Ha district, in Lam Dong province.
“They wrote up a report that I violated a probation I was under,” Nhat said. “Their evidence was that they went to my house but did not see me there. I told them that I was not on any probation, because the court did not sentence me to it and that I never admitted to any crime related to overthrowing the government, so that any sentence in prison or probation wasn’t valid in my case.”
He also said he reported to authorities that he would go to Ho Chi Minh City for a health checkup, receive a certificate, buy some items and attend a service.
“Even though I am not under any probation, I still reported my activities to the authorities in a respectful manner, even though they themselves do not respect the law,” he said.
The human rights journalist who works for the Vietnam Redemptorist News was arrested in August 2011, and sentenced to four years in prison and three years of house arrest.
When he was released in August of this year, four human rights defenders, including Chu Manh Son, were beaten by police and unidentified individuals after a celebration marking Nhat’s release.
During his recent interrogation, Nhat remained silent and prayed, he said.
The police forced him to cooperate with them, but he was determined not to continue talking to them, he said.
They accused Nhat of following a priest from the Catholic Redemptorist church, which they said is against the state, and of receiving money to betray the country, he said.
One policeman twisted his arms, forcing him to stand up so he could search his body, then punched him in the abdomen, he said.
Afterwards, they took Nhat to Da Don village’s People’s Committee Office, he said.
Authorities gathered members of the communist National Front and Youth Union from the village, who criticized Nhat and told him to write a letter admitting to his wrongdoings, although he refused, he said.
“They talked to each other and said they would give me an administrative punishment for violating my probation,” he said, but they let him go at about 6:30 p.m.
Nguyen Duc Chung, Da Don’s police chief, hung up on an RFA reporter when she called on Monday and asked about Nhat’s case.
Chu Manh Son said police beat him as well, then released him so he could return to Ho Chi Minh City.
Chu Manh Son, who had campaigned against China’s policy in the East China Sea, which the Vietnamese call the East Sea, had been detained for his activities in 2011. After serving a 30-month prison sentence for “propaganda against the state,” he was released in April 2014.
In another harassment case, labor activist Do Thi Minh Hanh told RFA that her rented house in Binh Thuan commune of Ho Chi Minh City was locked from the outside on Friday.
She managed to get out, but encountered a group of masked people, including women, who accused her of having an extramarital affair because they saw her with one of their husbands, she said.
Hanh called an emergency number to report the incident to authorities, but got no answer, she said.
The next day, she informed a representative from the residential area, but he declined to interfere because he had heard that police were involved, she said. He also told her that other residents recognized the women in the group as members of the commune’s women union.
In October 2010, Hanh was sentenced to seven years in prison for distributing leaflets to incite workers at the My Phong footwear company in Tra Vinh province in south Vietnam’s Mekong Delta region to seek better pay and work conditions.
She was released in June 2014 after serving four years of her sentence, during which she was repeatedly beaten by prison guards and other inmates and became ill.
In Hanoi, activists Thao Teresa and Trinh Ba Phuong and blogger Nguyen Lan Thang recently reported harassment by “opinion shapers” who threatened to kill them.
“About a week ago, a policeman named Dung from Ha Dong district and some others came to my house in the commune and threatened to send me and my mother to prison,” Phuong said.
Reported by Gia Minh for RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.