Monthly Archives: October 2013

Do Thi Minh Hanh, Mai Thi Dung handcuffed, fettered and fainting in prisoner transport

Trương Minh Đức (Danlambao) * Translated by Jasmine Tran – Early on 11/10/13, Mr Do Ty, Do Thi Minh Hanh’s father, arrived in Hanoi to go to Thanh Xuan Prison (Camp 3), at Xuan Duong in Thanh Oai District, Hanoi. Five other friends and Mr Vo Van Buu also accompanied him. During the visit with his daughter, he was reportedly shattered when Hanh recounted:
The prison authority had transferred Minh Hanh and Ms Mai Thi Dung to the North through prisoner transport. During the trip Hanh was handcuffed, fettered and left in the coachwork. She fainted and regained consciousness many times on the 1700 kilometre trip to the North. Ms Mai Thi Dung did not fare any better; she also fainted many times on the rough long trip from the South to the North. In addition, being on hunger strike since 1/10/2013 had already worsened her health. Both of Dung and Hanh were transferred in poor health conditions; they were starving and very ill.
It is hard to believe that the government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam could perpetrate such inhuman acts on the two female prisoners, in front of a world where abused women are supposed to be protected. But then it is that same government that is afraid of these women’s voices asking for the right to freedom, democracy, and freedom of religion and belief. This government has acted vengefully, by exile and torturing these women, despite the outrage of the public.
Mai Thi Dung (holding a milk box)
Đỗ Thị Minh Hạnh (Taken during the previous visit)
According to Mr Vo Van Bưu, Dung’s husband, Dung said she would rather die than to accept the prison authority’s suggestion to “confess”. From the visit on 10/10/2013, Dung has reached on her 11th day of the hunger strike and her life is at stake.
Dung could not walk unsupported anymore; she was carried on the back of another prisoner to see her husband. She could not talk, only murmured and her husband had to put his ear near her mouth to hear her speak. On 11/10/13 (one day after Dung met her husband), when Mr Do Ty visited Do Thi Minh Hanh, Hanh informed that Mai Thi Dung had just been brought to the hospital for the intensive care as Dung had fainted of exhaustion.
A group of friends visiting Hanh and Dung ( FB Bùi Thị Minh Hằng)
Do Thi Minh Hanh’s father also let us know that recently the prison officers are “proposing” Hanh and Dung to sign the “confession of guilt” in order to be “released early”. He also disclosed that he himself was advised by officers to push Hanh to “confess” to acquire her freedom…
At the visit Mr Ty could see Hanh was very thin, but her mind remains very strong and resolute in what she is fighting for. He said he is very pleased about what Hanh has done to help and protect poor exploited workers, the many farmers whose lands were unlawfully seized, and other social injustices. Before leaving, Mr Do Ty comforted Hanh and told her he has always known her to do right, all her family and friends love her and support her, and that he would stop her if he saw her doing the wrong thing. He said: “I am very proud of you, my daughter!”
Mr Do Ty – Do Thi Minh Hanh’s father

Vietnam: Drop Politically Motivated Charges Against Critics

Tax Evasion Allegations Intended to Silence Le Quoc Quan
(New York, October 01, 2013) – The Vietnamese government should drop politically motivated charges against Le Quoc Quan, one of Vietnam’s most prominent and respected human rights defenders, Human Rights Watch said today. Vietnam’s donors should communicate serious concerns about Hanoi’s ongoing crackdown on rights defenders and bloggers, and publicly call for the unconditional release of Le Quoc Quan and other peaceful critics.
Le Quoc Quan’s trial was originally scheduled for July 9, 2013, but it was postponed at the last minute and has been rescheduled for October 2, at the People’s Court of Hanoi. Tax evasion carries a maximum of seven years’ imprisonment and a significant fine.
“Le Quoc Quan’s apparent crime is to be an effective public critic of the Vietnamese government,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “When will the Vietnamese government accept that freedom of expression includes the freedom to peacefully express opinions that differ from those of the ruling party?”
The Vietnamese government has previously used tax evasion charges to imprison prominent blogger Nguyen Van Hai (Dieu Cay) in 2008. At his trial he was sentenced to prison for 30 months. On the day Dieu Cay was supposed to be released, he was held on a new charge, “conducting propaganda,” and then sentenced to an additional 12 years in prison.
Le Quoc Quan, 41, is a lawyer and blogger, and a leading voice advocating human rights and democracy. He was arrested on December 27, 2012, nine days after the British Broadcasting Corporation published his article entitled, “Constitution or a contract for electricity and water service?” The article commented on discussions about amending Vietnam’s constitution. Le Quoc Quan’s piece criticized the retention of article 4 of the constitution, which makes the Communist Party preeminent in national life.
Before his current detention, Le Quoc Quan wrote prolifically on his popular blog about human rights, civil rights, political pluralism, religious freedom, and other issues. His website documented human rights violations against him, his family, and fellow activists. He was also involved in a series of peaceful protests in Hanoi over claims by China to sovereignty over parts of the South China Sea, which Vietnam says are within its maritime territory.
In 2006-2007, Le Quoc Quan spent five and a half months in Washington, D.C., as a fellow of the National Endowment for Democracy, which is funded by the US Congress. He used the prestigious fellowship to do research on civil society in connection with his interest in economic development that would benefit the nation’s poor. He was arrested in March 2007, days after returning to Vietnam following completion of his fellowship, for alleged subversion under the vague provisions of article 79 of Vietnam’s penal code. Following domestic and international criticism, the authorities released him in June 2007. He lived under constant police surveillance until his arrest in December 2012.
Le Quoc Quan attempted to run for a seat in the Vietnam National Assembly in 2011 but was blocked by the authorities. That year he was temporarily detained for “causing public disorder” when he attempted to observe the trial of the prominent dissident Cu Huy Ha Vu. On August 19, 2012, he was assaulted by two men, one of whom he recognized as a person who had been following him for months, and had to be treated in a hospital for his injuries. The police do not appear to have seriously investigated this crime.
“The Vietnamese government appears to be so nervous about its position in society that it is reflexively finding ways to silence and imprison dissident after dissident,” Adams said. “Hanoi should realize that government critics reflect a large and growing body of opinion in the country that it is time for Vietnam to become a genuine multi-party democracy in which free speech is tolerated. These voices will not be silenced by such heavy-handed tactics.”