Unidentified thugs vandalized the Hanoi home of a prominent human-rights attorney, smearing it with red paint and putrid-smelling shrimp paste late Thursday night, the lawyer told RFA’s Vietnamese Service.
Tran Thu Nam told RFA that he was working at his home around midnight when he went to his front door to investigate a mysterious commotion.
“I don’t know who did it, as they had already run away when I opened the door,” he said. “They painted the door and threw shrimp paste at it.”
Tran called the Yen Hoa commune police, who took pictures of the scene and wrote a report.
"They came and took pictures of the scene and wrote a report,” he said. “They promised me that they will use pictures taken by cameras from the neighbors to identify those people.”
Tran and fellow attorney Le Van Luan were brutally beaten by thugs last year when they visited the family of their client Do Dang Du, who had died in police custody.
Publicity over the 2015 attack on Tran and Le led Hanoi police to investigate and prosecute the people involved in the assault, but the victims decided to drop the case, and Tran forgave his attackers.
“When I was beaten, they had to start the prosecution process because of the public pressure, but I didn’t think those young men had any problem with me directly, so I decided to drop the case,” he said.
While the beating drew national attention and was raised in Vietnam’s National Assembly, an attack on a house is unlikely to rise to that level, he said.
“I’m afraid that it will be very difficult to investigate due to complicating issues in society concerning circumstances,” he said. “It is hard to hope that they will find out who did this.”
Shrimp paste is a pungent ingredient used in many Asian dishes, and is made from fermented, ground shrimp mixed with salt. In Vietnam, it is used in a wet form, and is often an ingredient in a dip made for fish or vegetables.
While it remains unclear who vandalized Tran’s house, attacks on the homes of prominent dissidents and government critics are often used in Asia as a form of intimidation.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Brooks Boliek.